The effect is something like an absurd and endless syllabus, constantly updating to remind you of ways you might flunk as a moral being.
Glad to see someone writing about one of my least favorite descriptions for art.
This usage seems to gesture everywhere but at the art itself, both as an admonishment to the audience and an indictment of the world that has begotten the themes contained in the work being discussed.
Teju Cole on the sameness of travel photography:
The visitor to a place like the Roman Forum does not only take a photograph of the Forum; he also takes a photograph for the Forum. His photograph partly serves the narrative chosen by the Forum’s custodians. The visitor is inadvertently mesmerized not only by the site but also by the municipal or museological organization of the experience of the site.
I loved this essay on layovers. Airports are usually incredibly relaxing for me:
All sorts of big questions wait on the other side of the gate. Will Bill still love you when you get home? Will you make it out there at college? Will Morocco be everything you’ve always dreamed of?
But you don’t have to answer questions like that during a layover. You can’t: The whole point is that they have to wait. You have been granted a reprieve — a chance to consider life as it was before it goes away, or as it might be when it arrives.
See also: Let’s fly.
All of Bourne’s enemies, as well as his potential allies, are colleagues of one kind or another, and his very existence is a horrifying reductio ad absurdum of life on the corporate treadmill.
Even Superheroes Punch the Clock – The New York Times
Cities get the types of crime their design calls for.
Excited for Manaugh’s book to hit my mailbox in a few days.
How Aerial Surveillance Has Changed Policing — and Crime — in Los Angeles
Our notion of places — which is to say the romances and images we project onto them — are always less current and subtle than the places themselves. […] That disconnect is even more acute because so many travelers have been everywhere (if only on-screen), which in turn means that reality — all that is unmediated and nonvirtual — holds a greater premium than ever.
Can a Trip Ever Be ‘Authentic’? – The New York Times
If the words nerd and geek can be rehabilitated — if legions of misunderstood enthusiasts can march from the margins of respectability to the heart of the mainstream — then why not snob as well?
Film Snob? Is That So Wrong?
Rationally, no one should be happier about a score of 96 out of 137 (70 percent) than 72 out of 100, but my students were. And by realizing this, I was able to set the kind of exam I wanted but still keep the students from grumbling.
Unless You Are Spock, Irrelevant Things Matter in Economic Behavior
I didn’t read the article, but this photo by Billy H.C. Kwok is really great.
I love this essay about a two-day bender at the movie theaters.
Henry Higgins has a song in “My Fair Lady” in which he talks about how even-keeled his life was before Eliza Doolittle came along and messed it up. That is true at the movies, too. Alone, you can respond any way you want; the only negotiation is between you and the screen. Let another person in, and everything changes. My friend was gracious, but I could tell that he wished the seats were farther back and that he was repelled by what he perceived to be the unpleasant jingoism cascading around the theater. I felt responsible, because the movie had been my idea.
That was a bummer. I began to believe that maybe art is better experienced alone, which is not a healthy belief.
And this too:
The movie was “Night at the Museum 3: Secret of the Tomb,” and it was pretty bad. It was a perfect thing to see alone, because I really liked it and would not have wanted to explain myself to anyone.
From ‘American Sniper’ to ‘Macbeth,’ a Reporter’s Moviegoing Spree – NYTimes.com
If they’re going to be open to a real relationship, they have to stop asking where this person rates in comparison to others and start asking, can we lower the boundaries between self and self.
The Devotion Leap – NYTimes.com
In a study of more than a million Yelp restaurant reviews, Mr. Jurafsky and the Carnegie Mellon team found that four-star reviews tended to use a narrower range of vague positive words, while one-star reviews had a more varied vocabulary. One-star reviews also had higher incidence of past tense, pronouns (especially plural pronouns) and other subtle markers that linguists have previously found in chat room discussions about the death of Princess Diana and blog posts written in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks.
In short, Mr. Jurafsky said, authors of one-star reviews unconsciously use language much as people do in the wake of collective trauma. “They use the word ‘we’ much more than ‘I,’ as if taking solace in the fact that this bad thing happened, but it happened to us together,” he said.
Another finding: Reviews of expensive restaurants are more likely to use sexual metaphors, while the food at cheaper restaurants tends to be compared to drugs.
Decoding a Menu at Root & Bone – NYTimes.com