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jbertsche : prufrock   21

A revolution of feeling | spiked
Before the 1790s, Hewitt argues, ‘passion’s significance was predominantly social, and political reform was thought to proceed hand in hand with emotional reform’. Emotion and sentiment were therefore drivers and expressions of political desire. By the early 1800s, emotion had ‘been progressively stripped of its cognitive role – its role in learning and education – its sensitivity to inequalities and deprivations in the material world, and its part in making judgements about the propriety of investment and attachment’. Emotion was no longer intrinsically linked to political fervour – it was random, and often seen as meaningless.
emotions  Prufrock 
may 2018 by jbertsche
Walker Percy and the Politics of Deranged Times
Percy said that what interests the novelist, “what they are mainly good for, is not such large topics as God, man, and the world, but rather what he perceives as fault lines in the terrain, small clues that something strange is going on, a telltale sign here and there. Sign of what? A sign that things have gotten very queer without anyone seeming to notice it….”

At the same time, we relentlessly pursue comfort and pleasure in the way we consume an ever-increasing variety of goods and services. But it isn’t just our “stuff” we accumulate or experiences that we purchase that count here. Percy thought we consume people and places, too. We go on vacation and do “vacation things,” that help us to escape our troubled selves, filling them with hours and hours of activities. Rather than engaging in rest, it seems like our days on vacation need to be occupied by doing something. What are we trying to avoid? Ourselves.

Percy uses a few days in More’s life to remind us that all the technological and medical fixes for our alienation evade what we really need from our family life, our community, and our churches – places of rest that give us the capacity to live well.

Percy predicted that the great dangers of our world might come from the effort to eliminate politics entirely, which we see played out every time crowds left and right stifle free speech, every time politicians speak of debates being entirely settled, and whenever experts seek to evade the messiness of political compromise in favor of administrative power. Without this sort of awareness, these deranged times can’t be seen for how they really are.
WalkerPercy  Prufrock  politics  anxiety 
november 2017 by jbertsche
Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting
In a series of experiments at Princeton University and the University of California, Los Angeles, students were randomly assigned either laptops or pen and paper for note-taking at a lecture. Those who had used laptops had substantially worse understanding of the lecture, as measured by a standardized test, than those who did not.

The researchers hypothesized that, because students can type faster than they can write, the lecturer’s words flowed right to the students’ typing fingers without stopping in their brains for substantive processing. Students writing by hand had to process and condense the spoken material simply to enable their pens to keep up with the lecture. Indeed, the notes of the laptop users more closely resembled transcripts than lecture summaries. The handwritten versions were more succinct but included the salient issues discussed in the lecture.

The strongest argument against allowing that choice is that one student’s use of a laptop harms the learning of students around them. In a series of lab experiments, researchers at York University and McMaster University in Canada tested the effect of laptops on students who weren’t using them. Some students were told to perform small tasks on their laptops unrelated to the lecture, like looking up movie times. As expected, these students retained less of the lecture material. But what is really interesting is that the learning of students seated near the laptop users was also negatively affected.

The economic term for such a spillover is a “negative externality,” which occurs when one person’s consumption harms the well-being of others.
Prufrock  technology 
november 2017 by jbertsche
It’s time for online media to pivot from advertising.
Suddenly, however, the business picture is looking less rosy. BuzzFeed and Vice, two of digital media’s brightest stars, both missed revenue targets by a wide margin last year, the Wall Street Journal reported last week, and investors are calling for costs to be reined in. The social media–focused tech and culture site Mashable, valued at $250 million last year amid a high-profile “pivot to video,” was sold to trade publisher Ziff Davis last week for just $50 million. Univision is reportedly shopping a stake in the Fusion Media Group, which includes the remnants of both Fusion and the defunct Gawker Media. Last Friday, CNN Money’s Dylan Byers reported that the Daily Beast is on the block, too. And earlier this month, one of the pioneers in online local journalism—the DNAinfo/Gothamist network—stunned the industry and its own employees by shutting down entirely—just after its New York staffers had formed a union. The list goes on.

What’s clear by now, however, is that online video isn’t going to save the prevailing digital media ad model from the fundamental forces that are working against it—at least, not fast enough for the investors funding these outlets.

In short, giant platforms such as Facebook and Google have usurped individual media outlets as the places where most people find content online. Those platforms are also in the advertising business, and they’re much better at it than the publishers, for various reasons. So advertisers increasingly go straight to those platforms, cutting publishers out of the loop. Publishers are still bearing the costs of producing content, but Facebook and Google are the ones making most of the money from it.
Prufrock  technology  journalism  advertising 
november 2017 by jbertsche
Kirkus Reviews and the Plight of the “Problematic” Book Review | The New Yorker
If you start noting ethnicity to make those books recognizable, she pointed out, you really ought to report whiteness, too.

In [updating the review], Kirkus, one of the country’s most prolific book reviews, has somehow managed to misapprehend both the nature of reviewing and the nature of books. As I’ve written in this magazine, criticism exists in different flavors, but its defining feature is an individualism of response. That response can be wise or unwise, popular or unpopular. A reviewer can squander authority by seeming too often at odds with good judgment. But, without critical autonomy, the enterprise falls apart. The only reason to hire a critic, instead of giving a megaphone to the crowd, is that creative work—books most of all—isn’t processed as a collective. People make sense of art as individuals, and their experiences of the work differ individually, too. A reviewer speaks for somebody, even if he or she doesn’t speak for you.
race  BookReview  Prufrock 
october 2017 by jbertsche
Not Being Original
Weekends, when friends join me for longer runs, I have a new route prepared, never the same—perhaps around the university, deep into the greenbelt, into the housing north of the lake, always different than the last. Or is that just a story I tell myself? Maybe these attempts at creating new routes simply emphasize the routineness of it all: the same movement, the same exercise. But running is not about exercise. Not exactly. Running, for those who have crossed over into obsession, is not about time or distance or health, at least not for me. Running is about routine, the same movement over and over. The so-called runner’s high, then, is the euphoria evoked by pattern, simplicity, ritual.
Prufrock  originality  writing  art  routine  running 
october 2017 by jbertsche
Forgetfulness: the dangers of a modern culture that wages war on its own past
In a pervasive modern view, which seems to most people so obviously true that they can think in no other way, the past is a burden that must be shed in order that a new kind of life can come into being. Modern human beings are always in transit to another place, which seems only more distant the longer they have been travelling.

It is a view of things that has a comical side, as Francis O’Gorman points out:

A concern with the multiple shapes of futurity situates us all in a joke, we might say, that has yet to conclude. Contemporary habits of mind are, in these terms, a gag without a last line, a gag without a gag… The experience of contemporaneity is, to phrase it in these mercurial terms, of waiting to know, and never finding out, what the penguin did in the bar.

Today, disparaging the past is a mark of intellectual respectability. Anyone who believes that history involves loss as well as gain is reactionary: “The preference among liberal intellectuals is for a new kind of Whig history – one where the past is to be surveyed primarily to expose its failings…”
Prufrock  history  identity  memory  forgetfulness 
october 2017 by jbertsche

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