Since it’s clear from your letters that you’re a person nice, and since it’s well-known that an overkeen sense of obligation tends to afflict the congenitally nice, I again want to implore you not to feel any obligation to read the BM any faster¹ than your own schedule and…
“If we listened to our intellect we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go in business because we’d be cynical: “It’s gonna go wrong.” Or “She’s going to hurt me.” Or, “I’ve had a couple of bad love affairs, so therefore …” Well, that’s nonsense. You’re going to miss life. You’ve got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down.”—Ray Bradbury [Bradbury on Fresh Air] (via nprfreshair)
To celebrate that there’s discussion re The New Sincerity (I don’t know what The New Sincerity means for other people and don’t have a personal definition for it) here is a short story titled “Sincerity” from my 2007 story-collection Bed which is out-of-print, I think (via Amazon).
“Bradbury wouldn’t have made it today as a writer in New York; he was too rough, too raw, too tender. (He attributed to New York critics a “terrible creative negatism.”) But Ray Bradbury, who never went to college and was entirely library educated, had what so many of the sophisticated, MFA-carrying writers today lack: passion, vitality, emotional awareness. And, maybe most admirably, he found a way to carry his imagination past the boundaries of childhood, where so many of us so often discard it.”—Our own associate editor Stephen Andrew Hiltner’s tribute to Ray Bradbury (via theparisreview)
“The back-and-forth between the campaign’s Tumblr and its followers, and the enthusiasm it engenders, is typified by the story of April Watkins. In December, the University of Kentucky grad, who blogs under the nickname Apsies, launched an online campaign to get Obama to follow her on Tumblr. Watkins posted a .gif of Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler’s character in Parks and Recreation, frowning, with the caption “Barack Obama still hasn’t followed me.” It quickly picked up steam, and eventually the Obama Tumblr team caught wind. They followed her, reblogged the post with a Parks and Recreation joke—”You had us at Leslie Knope”—and let the good vibes roll. The original post received 8,270 notes; in March, the Obama campaign staff cited it in a slideshow on their social-media strategy.”—Take 1: Why the Obama campaign is so good at Tumblr. (via motherjones)
“Happiness schmappiness. I think the pursuit of it, and our focus on it, is narcissistic. I don’t think that should be the goal in life. I think the goal in life is to have a good life — rich, fulfilled, filled with love — and have a sense that you are doing something to make the world a better place — and then happiness is a byproduct of a life well lived.”—Psychologist Dan Gottlieb. (via nprfreshair)
There are five possibilities. One: Adam fell.
Two: he was pushed. Three: he jumped. Four:
he only looked over the edge, and one look silenced him.
Five: nothing worth mentioning happened to Adam.
The first, that he fell, is too simple. The fourth,
fear, we have tried and found useless. The fifth,
nothing happened, is dull. The choice is between:
he jumped or was pushed. And the difference between these
is only an issue of whether the demons
work from the inside out or from the outside
in: the one
“When a psychologist or psychiatrist testifies during a defendant’s competency hearing, the psychologist or psychiatrist shall wear a cone-shaped hat that is not less than two feet tall. The surface of the hat shall be imprinted with stars and lightning bolts…”—From a legislative amendment introduced (and passed! but then removed) by New Mexico state senator Duncan Scott. Read more here. (via wnycradiolab)
Here I want to delve into what I’m calling hipster anti-racism. It’s a term I’m using to describe those moments when (usually) white folks perform anti-racist/liberatory attitudes about a racialized issue in an attempt to appear subversive and often “hip.”
Unlike hipster racism, it is not a performance of ironic racism but actually a performance of anti-racist attitude as a signifier of hipness. It is important to understand that hipster anti-racism can be performed by anyone, not just those we characteristically label as hipsters. Hipster anti-racism is defined by by being 1) insincere, 2) momentary, 3) subversive for the sake of being hip and not for a deeper dismantling of systems of power and oppression, and 4) present in rhetoric almost exclusively, with little indication of substantive shifts towards anti-racist behavior or action.
In other words, hipster anti-racism, like much of hipsterdom, is defined by its appropriation and lack of historicity. In this case, it is an anti-racism that is not making an effort to link itself into broader histories and communities of anti-racist struggle. Note that I don’t think every instance of momentary engagement with race and racialization is an instance of hipster anti-racism. Those moments, could, after all, signify the beginnings of an awakening to ideas of privilege/power and anti-racism. It is only when someone’s anti-racism is only and continually displayed through those momentary engagements (rather than a deeper and more actionable shift in consciousness) that I think it wanders into the category of hipster anti-racism. I’m not saying we all have to (or can) become full-time anti-racist activists, but I am saying that if you’re going to talk about racism all the time, your actions had better align a little better with your rhetoric.
All of these examples are signs of a broader cultural shift that has blurred the line between mental illness and the baseline quotient of sadness, anxiety, and stress that into each life must fall. “Things that we didn’t used to think of as being psychiatric disorders are now considered to be psychiatric problems,” Ramirez said. “There’s been kind of a pathologization of life itself.”
I told Ramirez something I’d been mulling since reading the students’ articles. It had struck me that the authors were very able to talk about “stress,” and very able to talk about “mental-health issues,” but that there was virtually no conversation about negative feelings outside the rubric of mental health. I was surprised to find ordinary feelings lumped in with clinical mental-health problems; in Wong and Schleider’s piece, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders were name-checked as “mental-health issues,” but so were insomnia, fights with roommates, romantic breakups, and the sensation of being misunderstood…
All in all, Ramirez told me, students haven’t changed since he first got into the field. During his two decades in school counseling, they have presented with a remarkably stable set of cares—wondering whether they’ll be loved, whether they’ll be successful, what life is for. The difference today is that students are much more likely to attach these questions, and their worries around them, to the idea of biological mental illness.
“The obvious explanation is that every time a woman tries to tell a joke, an invisible dream-catcher telescopes out of her vagina and snatches it from the air. Science.”—Lindy West, on those bogus studies that come out every couple years saying men are funnier than women. (via washingtonpoststyle)