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See The Babadook because it is really about the claustrophobia of single parenthood.

The Babadook

See Actress because it is really about the sexuality of mothers.

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Cormac in the Gallery of Modern Art.

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More thoughts from me on art for kids (everyone).

Small child in the art gallery.

Play to your strengths.

Overheard in an art gallery.

Black people don’t go to art galleries.

More of December takes a strange turn.

“simple criteria when buying art: it had to be inexpensive, small enough to be carried on the subway or in a taxi and it had to fit inside their one-bedroom flat”.

When she turned 9.

I die of love.

Inspiration for your own plastic bag collection.

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There’s been a lot of talk in the social media era about the end of authority — how networks of friends, say, have replaced experts, and Yelp taking over for food critics. That’s definitely part of what’s happening here with Kim, and so it’s tempting to see the phenomenon as sort of democratic. But I can’t help thinking the opposite is also happening — that we haven’t been liberated in the way we think about some cultural product or other, we have just learned to defer, just as totally, to a different authority — some sense of conventional wisdom.

Which makes me wonder: What do you think it means that it’s now a kind of conventional wisdom that Kim is someone worth thinking seriously about?

JS: Here’s where it may start to get really interesting. What might it mean that collective critical thinking, such as it is, in this case, the acceptance of Kim not as a freak show, huckster, or something sold, but instead as something self-created, self-aware, and sincere, with its own essences and vulnerabilities.

I think that we may be turning a corner away from what I think of as takedown culture. Of writers, commentators, critics, or those in authority taking to the airwaves or wherever and laying people low, grousing, snipping, passing all sorts of extraordinarily general disparagements of whole professions or trying to take someone out altogether. It all comes from cynicism, the feeling that the system is corrupt and that everything is rigged and nothing is what it seems. We all love a good critical catfight, but somehow, with these catfights and cynical demonizations becoming the way of mainstream media, I perceive the wider culture and the art world slowly trying to separate out and isolate this behavior for what it is: Headline-grabbing, grandstanding, gasbags, people scared of change, or afraid of going deeper. I saw a critic review the entire NADA art fair with two words: “I’m disappointed.” Other critics duck the issue altogether, preferring instead to just gripe about what another critic says. We have so many people using their energy now to attack how other people use their energy. This is the new nullity.

From Jerry Saltz and David Wallace-Wells “Jerry Saltz: How and why we started taking Kim Kardashian seriously (and what she teaches us about the state of criticism) in Vulture.

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Conversations were governed by the same rules as matches. Lead with a pussy joke about my cat? Dick is abundant and low value. Choose a meeting place that doesn’t account for my commute there? Dick is abundant and low value. Ask for nudes too soon? Dick is abundant and low value. Cancel twice? Dick is abundant and low value. Send an unsolicited photo of your lower body in your laundry-day underwear with your hand suggestively but not sexily placed over your semi and not even bothering to crop out your poor cat? Dick is abundant and low value.

Some will read my gleeful rejections on the many faces I encounter on Tinder as evidence of a disturbing uptick in malevolent, anti-male sentiments among single straight women. It is not. It is evidence of us arriving nearer to gender equilibrium where men can no longer happily judge the clear and abundant photos and carefully crafted profiles of women but become incensed when they take the opportunity to do the same.

From “The Dickonomics of Tinder” by Alana Massey in The Medium. This is spot on.

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When I’m broken I am whole

Bjork in “The Invisible Woman: A Conversation with Bjork” by Jessica Hopper in Pitchfork.

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Sometimes people say to me, “why should I read a poem?” There are plenty of answers, from the profound – a poem is such an ancient means of communication that it feels like an evolutionary necessity – to the practical; a poem is like a shot of espresso – the fastest way to get a hit of mental and spiritual energy.

We could talk about poetry as a rope in a storm. Poetry as one continuous mantra of mental health. Poetry as the world’s biggest, longest-running workshop on how to love. Poetry as a conversation across time. Poetry as the acid-scrub of cliche.

We could say that the poem is a lie detector. That the poem is a way of thinking without losing the feeling. That a poem is a way of feeling without being too overwhelmed by feeling to think straight. That the poem is “the best words in the best order” (Coleridge). That the poem “keeps the heart awake to truth and beauty” (Coleridge again – who can resist those Romantics?). That the poem is an intervention: “The capacity to make change in existing conditions” (Muriel Rukeyser). That poetry, said Seamus Heaney, is “strong enough to help”.

Yes.

And pleasure.

Carol Ann Duffy has often spoken about poetry as an everyday event and not as a special occasion. She wants us to enjoy poetry, to have as much as we like, to be able to help ourselves to a good, fresh supply, to let poetry be as daily as talking – because poetry is talking. Words begin in the mouth before they hit the page. Speech is older than writing, and poetry is as old as speech. Poems are best spoken to get the full weight and taste of the words and the run of the lines. Difficult poems become easier when spoken.

Just as the body is shaped for movement, the mind is shaped for poetry.

Rhythm and rhyme aid recall. Poems are always rhythmic but not always rhyming. In the same way that melody became rather suspect in 20th-century classical music – atonal fractures being the mark of seriousness – so modernism rebranded rhyme as pastoral, lovesick, feminine, superficial. Fine for kids and tea towels; not fine for the muscular combative voice of the urban poet.

It has taken a long time for rhyme to return to favour. Rap and the rise of performance poetry have played a part in that return.

Jeanette Winterson on the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy in The Guardian.

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From Damon Young’s “Men just don’t trust women. And this is a problem” in Very Smart Brothas:

But you know what I don’t really trust? What I’ve never actually trusted with any women I’ve been with? Her feelings.

If she approaches me pissed about something, my first reaction is “What’s wrong?

My typical second reaction? Before she even gets the opportunity to tell me what’s wrong? “She’s probably overreacting.” 

My typical third reaction? After she expresses what’s wrong? “Ok. I hear what you’re saying, and I’ll help. But whatever you’re upset about probably really isn’t that serious.”

I’m both smart and sane, so I don’t actually say any of this aloud. But I am often thinking it. Until she convinces me otherwise, I assume that her emotional reaction to a situation is disproportionate to my opinion of what level of emotional reaction the situation calls for. Basically, if she’s on eight, I assume the situation is really a six.

I’m speaking of my own relationship, but I know I’m not alone. The theme that women’s feelings aren’t really to be trusted by men drives (an estimated) 72.81% of the sitcoms we watch, 31.2% of the books we read, and 98.9% of the conversations men have with other men about the women in their lives. Basically, women are crazy, and we are not. Although many women seem to be very annoyed by it, it’s generally depicted as one of those cute and innocuous differences between the sexes.

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