I don’t remember exactly when this dawned me — far too late, definitely — but I started enjoying sad/sappy movies a lot more when I let myself cry when the movie seemed to expect it of me instead thinking I was somehow beating the system or proving my superiority by resisting it.

Wes Anderson’s Arrested Development. Interesting criticism here. This led to an aha! moment for me:

Nothing more perfectly evokes the feeling of both a child’s literal interpretation of the world and youthful big ambition on a frustratingly small scale like a school play, and Anderson smartly adopts this style.

[…] We don’t lose ourselves in the emotion of the production, and for the same reason we’re not meant to lose ourselves in the story of an Anderson film. Like in a children’s play, we are meant to be aware at all times of creative effort, for this is where its true value lies. Anderson’s ability to blend substance and form and communicate this feeling is his greatest skill. His films look like a stage plays: Sets look like sets, the frame becomes the proscenium arch (with a symmetry in the set that exaggerates and enhances the frame’s boundaries), and the action is kept in the center of the frame, usually directed out toward the audience in mainly medium or wide shots.

And I like this:

Anything that helps to enlarge an understanding is important, as large thinking is contagious and will contaminate all other areas of your life, so that eventually nothing will be allowed to remain simple and small.

Upping the Antihero – The New Inquiry

The old cop who chafed at institutional limits has undergone a neoliberal transformation: The result is a new kind of series that we might call the consultant procedural. A derivative of the cop and private investigator procedurals, the consultant procedural starts with some sort of institutional disqualification and follows the central character as he or she ports unmatched professional skills from job to job.

The consultant procedural! This is brilliant.

Upping the Antihero – The New Inquiry

It’s my theory that rock and roll happens between fans and stars, rather than between listeners and musicians—that you have to be a screaming teenager, at least in your heart, to know what’s going on.

Ellen Willis, quoted in The New Inquiry – Heroine: Ellen Willis on Rock Music. On a similar note, Daniel Mendelsohn says:

Strange as it may sound to many people, who tend to think of critics as being motivated by the lower emotions: envy, disdain, contempt even… Critics are, above all, people who are in love with beautiful things, and who worry that those things will get broken.

See also both Little Steven and Elijah Wald on music and dancing.

The New Inquiry: Comfortably Alone

Shyness had made me so deficient in empathic experience that I could only view social life in terms of risk rather than opportunity. The best way to manage that risk, I thought, was to be unapproachable but legibly fascinating at a distance, to present myself as an object to be read but with a message that’s inscrutable and fleeting, one that could convey the complexity of the real me without reducing it to something superficial. I could not get past the wish to broadcast my identity without having to interact with anyone.

Facebook, of course, caters to that desire.

The New Inquiry: Comfortably Alone

The New Inquiry – SEO & the Disappearing Self

Social media structures communication between friends so that the responsibility for listening — inescapably built into earlier mediums that structured talk between friends as person-to-person — is modulated into a vaguer injunction to respond if and when you feel like it. Because status updates and the like are not addressed to anyone specific, they don’t generate an obligation in anyone specific to pay attention.

The New Inquiry – SEO & the Disappearing Self