Fantasy, even when it’s rooted in practical details and doesn’t involve any metaphysical impossibilities, is the hardest genre to pull off, for the simple reason that life is interesting. A drama or a comedy that sticks close to experience has the intrinsic virtue of documentary—and, as with documentary itself, less is usually more.
In 1966, a photographer Cunningham knew gave him an Olympus Pen D half-frame camera. “It cost about thirty-five dollars,” Cunningham wrote. “He said, ‘Here, use it like a notebook.’ And that was the real beginning.”
People don’t read these books to find out how to be better human beings. People read them to figure out how to become the kind of human being the workplace is looking for.
George Saunders is a gem.
There’s this theory that self-esteem has to do with getting confirmation from the outside world that our perceptions are fundamentally accurate. What Doug does at this meeting is increase my self-esteem by confirming that my perception of the work I’d been doing is fundamentally accurate. The work I’ve been doing is bad. Or, worse: it’s blah. This is uplifting–liberating, even—to have my unspoken opinion of my work confirmed. I don’t have to pretend bad is good. This frees me to leave it behind and move on and try to do something better.
The tendency to associate classical music with murderous insanity is a curious neurosis of the American pop-cultural psyche.
To pluck some things from the list, while ignoring others, strikes many Buddhists as absurd. McMahan said, “It would be as if somebody went to the Catholic Church and said, ‘I don’t buy all this stuff about Jesus and God, but I really dig this Communion ritual. Would you just teach me how to do that bit? Oh, and I want to start a company marketing wafers.’
To be told that a scene of mass death is the result of an accident or terrorism is to be given not only an explanation of the cause but also an idea of how to reckon with the consequence.
Even if you don’t give a shit about tech, or profiles of wealthy people, stick around for the lovely little bits of colorful writing. Ian Parker is great:
Ive’s career sometimes suggests the movements of a man who, engrossed in a furrowed, deferential conversation, somehow backs onto a throne.
It goes without saying that “culture” is a confusing word, this year or any year.
When the agony of missing the shot trumps the joy of the experience worth shooting, the adventure athlete (climber, surfer, extreme skier) reveals himself to be something else: a filmmaker, a brand, a vessel for the creation of content.
We make ourselves lists in order to know if we think what we think.
There is no finality in a list, just a promise that we will argue about everything listed, adjust our thoughts, and watch our feelings change over time.
When the culture at large grants athletic adoration to women, it is often of a temporary, fleeting kind directed toward teen-age American sweethearts at the Olympics. Williams has never been America’s sweetheart. […] The failure to fully appreciate her importance is perhaps evidence of our inability to appreciate the stubbornly unfamiliar narrative arc of her career. Williams is underloved because, at times, she has been unlovable and, in the end, mostly unrepentant about it
So what is happening here? Other players are winning tennis matches. They are doing so by playing better than their opponents, even the ones, like Federer and Djokovic, who usually win. A couple of new guys, who are likable, hard-working, and talented, get their shot at the big fancy trophy and the giant check. Many fans will have a hard time accepting this. It requires a categorical adjustment, a recognition that a tournament is merely a process of narrowing down a pool of athletes to the one who beats the rest, rather than an expression of the Form of the Good.
“Against [X]” is often not just an effective rhetorical form but also a canny career move: against X as an implicit argument for the polemicist.