Monday, April 21, 2014

Theme: Culture

  • SCENE: THE TORCH-LIT office-hewn-from-rock of Skepticus, the principal chamber of his retreat, high above the city. A long work table, strewn with papers, books, scrolls, pens, pencils, and quills; at its center, a laptop computer sits open. At left of the computer, a small pile of Legos, some affixed to each other, but none made into any recognizable object. A low stool stands at attention beneath the table.Read more
  • The first decade of the twenty-first century was basically nothing more than an extension of what had gone before. When I began writing this book in the autumn of 2010, I had the feeling that we were still in the twentieth century. In the area of technology-mediated communication, there were scant grounds for speaking about the experience of a different historical quality.Read more
  • Jacinta lives with her husband and six children in San Juan, a tiny and remote hamlet in the mountains of northern Argentina. My sons, Adrian, and Alexander, our guide, Facundo, and I had just arrived, after a long day of hiking. Because San Juan is off the grid, Facundo had no way of informing the family of our arrival. He had established contact with them two years earlier but had had no communication with them since then.Read more
  • It’s beginning to feel as if the beat of our lives is marked by acts of human violence and stupidity. Our lives mostly consist in routines of work and play, and intermittent moments of spring, summer, art, literature, comedy, music – all those items in the world that gain our attention or inattention and allow us pleasurably to think or tick over idly. Read more
  • It has become an accepted motif of the day, perhaps even a cliché, that data about our lives are captured and harvested in multifarious ways. The rise of powerful new media infrastructures has made this escalation of data harvesting possible. These infrastructures have become the backdrop to everyday life, and are virtually ubiquitous and inescapable in their scope. We live within them.Read more
  • It seems there’s no way out of sociology; nevertheless sociology cannot provide us with internal reasons for its ever-rising prestige. Surely we want to be able to say that the sociology of culture is valuable because it’s true or insightful. However, a culture that blithely accepts a sociological account of itself is one that appears to have foundered in the straits that have always bedeviled sociology: the attempt to negotiate the relations between structure and subject, or society and agent. Read more
  • From Voina to Bykov, Pussy Riot to Moscow hipsterism, culture seems to be playing a very political game in Russia. How can we explain this? Is this something that Russia has seen before? Are we witnessing this Russia’s ‘1968’ moment? And if so, is accompanied by the same kind of generational and political splits that we saw in Europe’s rebellion? Or is it something completely different? Read more
  • My friends imagined that I was joking, that I was being my usual haughty, hi-culture, Europhile self. How can I get the message across? No matter how often I attempt to explain this, no one believes me: I am essentially a lo-culture kind of guy. Or, rather, I deny the legitimacy of the distinction. I do not believe that there is anything more earnest in Ernstkultur than in Unterhaltung. Read more
  • I’ve been living in complete silence for months, I might say for years, with just the usual dull sounds you hear at the outskirts of town, the occasional echo of steps in the corridor and, further off, in the stairwell, someone dragging a sack, a carpet, a package, or a corpse, God knows what, along the ground; or the sound of the elevator as it slows, stops, opens, then closes and starts to rise or descend.Read more
  • Who is Daphne Guinness and what does she do professionally? Why does Ms. Guinness merit to be profiled by The New Yorker, a staple of intellectually respected literary journalism?Read more
  • I’m sitting at home one day a few weeks later, early hours, bang, bang! Seven o’clock in the morning. I was just about to open it but they banged through. I was so calm, they were shouting so loud, all red in their faces, shouting at the top of their voices, “GET ON THE FLOOR!” I go, “I’m not resisting.” My dog didn’t bite nobody.Read more
  • The players at Table 25 fought first over the choice of pawns. Doug Herold, a forty-four-year-old real estate appraiser, settled on the car. The player across from him, a shark-eyed IT recruiter named Billy, opted for the ship and took a pull from a can of Coors. The shoe was taken by a goateed toxic-tort litigator named Eric, who periodically distracted himself from the game on a BlackBerry so that he “could get billable hours out of this.” Read more
  • The Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard did not mince her words earlier this month when she said of the opposition leader Tony Abbott: “if he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror”. But even as her rant was going viral, its target and his supporters were complaining about Gillard’s language. Read more
  • The competition show Survivor just began its 25th season in the United States, and while any stigma associated with watching the show has almost completely faded, it nonetheless still gets grouped into the wide expanse of “reality television.” But that label, which tends to carry such negative associations, doesn’t actually fit Survivor.Read more
  • In The New Socialism: Global Collectivist Society is Coming Online, editor of Wired magazine Kevin Kelly (2009) argues that the collaborative cultures emerging around web 2.0 platforms cultivate a “digital socialism”, with broad political and economic implications for the producers of online culture.Read more
  • New York City is the great circling bathtub drain that young people from the college towns and mid-sized cities of North America disappear into, unable to resist the siren song of their own cosmopolitan ambitions.Read more
  • Erez Lieberman Aiden is a talkative witty fellow, who will bend your ear on any number of intellectual topics. Just don’t ask him what he does. “This is actually the most difficult question that I run into on a regular basis,” he says. “I really don’t have anything for that.” Read more
  • C. Wright Mills begins his esssay The Sociological Imagination by drawing a contrast between the ‘everyday worlds’ that ordinary people are aware of.Read more
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