Weekend links 648


The Twittering Machine (1922) by Paul Klee.

• “Thinking of ‘writer Twitter’ as more important than writers themselves is an insult to the profession. People have been trading words for money for thousands of years. They will continue to do so after the death of a platform built on manufactured outrage, social hierarchy, unfunny jokes, stale memes, pornography, and spam. I mention this Atlantic essay only because it echoes what so many people are saying in the ether right now, not to pick on its author. The piece reads like a parody of how writers overestimate the importance of Twitter to their work and careers. It’s frankly a little embarrassing. Your work is the product you sell! Not the shitty jokes you tell with people you want to impress.” Freddie deBoer on the kerfuffle du jour. For “writer” see also “artist” or anyone else working at the intersection between commerce and creativity. From what I’ve read this week about potential technical problems at the pestilential birdcage I’d be less sanguine about its immediate survival. Since I retreated from the place as an active user two-and-a-half years ago all I get from it is the inflated subscriber number you see on the right-hand side of this page, a combination of Twitter followers plus email subscribers. The latter currently stand at some 270 individuals so if you’re among that number you can consider yourself part of a more exclusive group. And thanks for subscribing!

• “…the books of the past, besides adding to our understanding, offer something we also need: repose, refreshment and renewal. They help us keep going through dark times, they lift our spirits, they comfort us. Which means that I also strongly agree with the poet John Ashbery, who once wrote, ‘I am aware of the pejorative associations of the word “escapist,” but I insist that we need all the escapism we can get and even that isn’t going to be enough.'” Michael Dirda makes a case for reading classic, unusual and neglected books. Kudos for the mention of Anthony Skene‘s Monsieur Zenith, a character few of Dirda’s readers will have heard of.

• “While Haeckel’s paintings turn the floating phantoms into baroque spectacles of colour and flowing form, Mayer’s medusae are more sober, their tentacles subdued, their umbellate bells transparent.” Kevin Dann on the jellyfish and other “floating phantoms” described in AG Mayer’s Medusae of the World (1910).

• “The passing of time has added potency to the images, giving this interpretation of the Dracula story the feel of a distant fairy tale, a myth emerging from the mists of time, erupting across the world of cinema, its shadow reaching everywhere.” Martyn Bamber on 100 years of Murnau’s Nosferatu.

• At AnOther: Camille Vivier talks about shooting nude models in the treasure-filled home of HR Giger.

• New music: In Concert & In Residence by Sarah Davachi, and Anglo-Saxon Androids by Moon Wiring Club.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Kimono portraits were popular souvenirs for sailors visiting Japan in the 1800s.

• Mix of the week: Saturnalia: Deep Jazz for Long Nights, 1969–1980 at Aquarium Drunkard.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Clouds.

Dark Clouds With Silver Linings (1961) by Sun Ra | Obscured By Clouds (1972) by Pink Floyd | Firmament (Cloudscape) (1995) by Main

5 thoughts on “Weekend links 648”

  1. Truly, Twitter (seems) to be a huge mountain of s***.
    But there’s flakes of gold addressed but unanswered here:
    For breaking news as well as commentary from actual experts as opposed to MSM pundits, there is no real alternative.
    As for that crap, really, Tumblr can be so much better, albeit with some tweaking and relatively minor changes. And god knows current management is magnitudes better temperamentally and competence-wise than Twitter at the moment.

  2. While admitting the odiousness of minds who think it’s a good idea to put a convertible into orbit, the previous administration ran the platform at one insane end of the political binary (as opposed to the other insane end), where punishment was eked out for pointing out the nonsense of autogynophilic male ‘lesbians’, suspensions for relatives of genuine instances of vaccine deaths, etc.
    But had no problem with ‘minor-attracted person’ networking and furry ‘cub-porn’.

  3. Mitchell: Yes, it’s always been good for news although even there the downsides impinge. Any news story is followed by The Take from the professional commentariat which in turn is followed by the Anti-Take from their opponents, and the comments on all those Takes, and the ironic recontextualistation of the same, and so on, ad infinitum. All of which gets repeated from the start when the next news story arrives two minutes later. This was one of the many things that eroded my patience with the place.

    Since I stepped away the weekend posts here have been a little light in content owing to my missing tips from Twitter users but I’ve made up for that by expanding my RSS feed list. RSS has always been undervalued, as well as being something the bigger websites are reluctant to mention when using it means you can receive a sample of a story without having to give the site a page impression.

  4. Who can argue with Dirda’s sentiments? Yet it is hard to understand why we who read ever have to justify ourselves. As if WE are the freaks. I’m told that the average American watches television six to eight hours a day. jesus christ, doesn’t that explain everything?

  5. There’s always been a huge amount of moralising attending the act of reading, especially reading for entertainment, probably because books have traditionally been repositories of religious instruction. The moralising impulse never really goes away, it simply shifts from one place to another; so in the 19th century all the finger-wagging tended to come from the Realists and those hosts of Victorian writers who thought that novels should deliver positive social messages. The trashy thrills of the Penny Dreadfuls were seen as corrupters of youth. Oscar Wilde’s opening pages in The Picture of Dorian Gray are a rebuke to these arguments.

    In the 20th century religious moralising was slowly replaced by academic moralising, with an attendant emphasis on political messages, while today we have an increased concern with empathy and “sympathetic characters”. If novels really communicated an excess of empathy then the people who write them and read them would be the saintliest creatures on the planet. Trashy thrills (or even non-trashy ones) remain suspect in literature in a way they really aren’t in any other medium.

    Despite posting a link to Dirda’s piece I’ve never worried about this very much. I’ve said before that nearly everything I’ve ever been enthusiastic about has been soundly disapproved in some quarter or other. I don’t let other people tell me what I should be reading or watching or listening to, and neither should anyone else.

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