January 28, 2021

Just some stuff I've got stored up.  Cool, though.


If you want to read something to think in a different register than we’re all thinking in now, and will all mostly be thinking in, for a while, this little review by B.D. McClay was good for me, as a reset.


This is a cool discovery, but Thur interpretation of it as “democratic “ is a stretch, to say the least.


“For Ngai, the problem of the gimmick—the mismatch between how it appears and the value it creates—is also the fundamental problem of capitalism as explained by Karl Marx.” Smart piece on Sianne Ngai’s Theory of the Gimmick.  Ngai is worth your while--her book Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting, seems painfully apt to me. 


Fascinating. “In a 70-year period, American popular culture (and to a great degree world popular culture) went from “realism” to fantasy and science fiction. The kids’ stuff became everybody’s stuff. How did that happen? There were many significant factors, but there is no doubt that Ray Bradbury was the most influential writer involved.”


An interesting and optimistic piece that identifies some green shoots in an otherwise bleak year:

“If you think about the broad timescale of human society, progress can be attained in the growth *rate* and the growth *length*. How good is our civilization, and how long does it last? Many of these innovations we developed between the 1930s and 1970s aided the rate, and many today are increasing the length. Both are vitally important, but they will be measured differently.”



Gillian Rose, from the grave!, on the three things needful to be a philosopher.


Huh.  DNA studies in the Caribbean suggest a number of things, including the fact that the European colonization was not the most genocidal event the Caribbean had—in an earlier population exchange, about 2500 years ago, the “Archaic culture” was almost entirely replaced by the “Ceramic culture”.  But a measurable fragment of DNA from Taino peoples survives in residents of the Caribbean today.  Amazing.


Adam Tooze on political-economic thinking after this year:  

“As a historian of the early 20th century, I think I had been predisposed to understand the Anthropocene as a war of attrition. But it turns out this challenge also has an element of blitzkrieg: In a timescale of days, it can mess with you irrevocably. And you could find yourself in a nearly untenable position if you do not act wisely on a timeline of hours.”  

Tooze's book Crashed, about the 2008 financial crisis and all that it wrought, is highly readable and very informative, by the way.  Give it a go.


Be well everyone!