because it’s one of those days.
A tale of righteous fury and terrible woe at Brutish&Short.
A great essay in the The Guardian. It’s funny how much it mirrors the scene in Just Kids when Patti sees Jim Morrison for the first time in New York and realizes she should be on stage too.
There was a soundtrack to all this: Patti Smith. After school, the three of us lay side by side on the greyish-white wall-to-wall carpeting in V’s living room, and listened to Patti sing. We knew every note, every phrase; we sang along, and in the course of our school day, we muttered lines to each other:
“He merged perfectly. With the mirror. In the hallway.”
“The boy looked at Johnny. Johnny wanted to run but the movie kept moving as planned…”
And so on, until Johnny is raped by the second boy, who may or may not be Johnny’s own reflection, and a throng of imaginary horses is unleashed. Patti heaved up these horses from somewhere in her chest. She panted them out. She was doing more than singing – she was showing us a way to be in the world: fragile but tough, beautiful and ugly, corrupt and innocent.
There was a debate this weekend – my friend, Ben, thinks that Patti was inspired by Morrison’s performance, whereas when I read Just Kids, I thought she meant, “bah, I can do this. This isn’t rocket science. If this guy can do it, I sure as shit can,” kind of like when I read a Dan Brown novel for the first time. I guess I will have to re-read the book.
Especially my own, and I wrote a post about it at Brutish&Short.
I’m not saying people aren’t getting married out of love, or are rushing into marriage for the sake of some snazzily designed invitations == well, maybe some of them are — but, for the most part, I can’t really say that I think this trend is a bad thing. I find these people impossible to judge, as much as I might want to, and as much as I may have made a sport of hipster-hating in the past. Maybe it’s that my own post-wedding lovey-dovey fog hasn’t worn off yet. But they are just so frigging cute when they get married.
In a fantastic article in April’s Atlantic. He deftly synthesizes and articulates all or our fears and then he shows us how to deal:
If we accept that the media will probably become more and more market-minded, and that an imposed conscience in the form of legal requirements or traditional publishing norms will probably have less and less effect, what are the results we most fear? I think there are four:
• that this will become an age of lies, idiocy, and a complete Babel of “truthiness,” in which no trusted arbiter can establish reality or facts;
• that the media will fail to cover too much of what really matters, as they are drawn toward the sparkle of entertainment and away from the depressing realities of the statehouse, the African capital, the urban school system, the corporate office when corners are being cut;
• that the forces already pulverizing American society into component granules will grow all the stronger, as people withdraw into their own separate information spheres;
• and that our very ability to think, concentrate, and decide will deteriorate, as a media system optimized for attracting quick hits turns into a continual-distraction machine for society as a whole, making every individual and collective problem harder to assess and respond to.
Our protection against these trends is partly defensive, or conservative. Economic history is working against “legacy” news organizations like the BBC, The New York Times, NPR, and most magazines you could name. But historical forces don’t play out on a set schedule, and can be delayed for a very long time. Economic history is also working against museums, small private colleges, and the farm-dappled French countryside, but none of them has to disappear next week. Even as it necessarily evolves, our news system will be better the longer it includes institutions whose culture and ambitions reach back to the pre-Gawker era, and it would be harder and costlier to try to re-create them after they have failed than to keep them on life support until their owners find a way to fit their values and standards into the imperatives of the new systems.
But the new culture also creates positive opportunities—as, it’s worth saying again, every previous disruption has.
And isn’t this awesome?:
At an individual level, I think the “distracted Americans” scare will pass. Either people who manage to unplug, focus, and fully direct their attention will have an advantage over those constantly checking Facebook and their smart phone, in which case they’ll earn more money, get into better colleges, start more successful companies, and win more Nobel Prizes. Or they won’t, in which case distraction will be a trait of modern life but not necessarily a defect. At the level of national politics, America is badly distracted, but that problem long predates Facebook and requires more than a media solution.