While I haven’t been able to consolidate my thoughts enough to write a traditional post, I thought I’d share what I’ve been enjoying and what has got me thinking this past week– with bits of commentary. Look forward to some of these becoming future blog posts in the weeks to come!
A terrific profile on Carrie Brownstein in the New Yorker. Nuanced and complex, this piece takes a look at her work with Portlandia and how she relates satire to her actual life and the real city she lives in. This article made me think about what kind of culture satire is helpful in the sense that it fosters progress and what kind is merely observant or passive. Also, interesting to hear Brownstein talk about the “narcissism of small differences” and why people may be clinging to small distinguishing factors to derive a sense of unique value or worth.
The Social Networks of Emily Dickinson, Paul Gauguin and Charlotte Bronte
This piece by Keith Sawyer, published in the 99%, explores what contributes to creativity and if it can be fostered in isolation. He analyzes an article by Katherine Giuffre, which profiles famous creatives that our culture would generally consider loners. Her conclusion is that even in the most limited means of letters, these people relied on communication, collaboration and critique and never created in a vacuum like the individualistic myth might suggest.
The Soft Bigotry of Kony 2012
This Atlantic article explores the assumptions that we make when we buy into viral videos like the Kony 2012 campaign. A terrific read, and made especially interesting by the news today about the Invisible Children’s founder and his recent actions. A favorite quote of mine was:
Kony 2012 is so seductive for precisely the same reasons that make it so dangerous. … [It] sets viewers up for a message so gratifying and fulfilling that it is almost impossible to resist: there is a terrible problem in the world, you are the solution, and all you have to do is pass along this video. … it tells Americans that by simply watching a video, and at most maybe buying a $30 “action kit” of wristbands and stickers, they have done all that’s necessary; they are absolved of responsibility.
Our Nomadic Existence: How Electronic Culture Shapes Community
A long read, but a great read. Far from being a dismissive luddite, Hipps simply encourages us to consider how the medium of the internet shapes the message of what we are saying (an idea borrowed from Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death and McLuhan’s Laws of Media). Something that I was left to think on:
“Electronic culture does opposite things at the same time. If oral culture is tribal, and literate culture is individual, then the phenomenon of the electronic age is marked by what I call the tribe of individuals. We live in a confused state of being characterized by a deep and growing desire for connection and community and the ever-increasing experience of an electronic nomad. It’s the isolating and thin existence of electronically wandering the globe, glancing off one another, but never really connecting or encountering the other… The end result is apathy and inaction. This is not our fault; it’s not because we are bad people. The human psyche isn’t designed to withstand all the weight and trauma of global suffering without shutting down. Numbness and exhaustion are natural reactions… and it didn’t exist prior to the electronic age. The reason this matters is that the spiritual habit of empathy at a distance also finds its way into our local communities. It becomes increasingly difficult to muster local activism and genuine concern for others when global suffering has already cauterized the nerves of compassion…”