Had an insanely busy week but managed to make time to read some terrific stuff.
First, HiLoBrow.com is always awesome, but in the past week they really kicked it up a notch.
(1) Matt Battles posted an excellent essay on what it means to be feral. He dedicated the piece to Marisol, which made Andrew and me tear up when we received his email letting us know. Matt’s prose is like poetry — multi-layered and dense — so I recommend reading once for the holistic effect to enjoy the scope and language and then to dig in and read it section by section.
“There’s no falsifiable hypothesis here, of course. I’m not a quantitative social scientist — I’m a reader. But I’d like to propose that the feral is certainly an evocative, and perhaps a useful, means for understanding the confrontation between imagination and today’s transmodern global culture. I find these qualities in literature, but we should look for them as well in sociology, in post-political behavior, in music and film, and in the technologically-enabled ways of life which increasingly constitute means of artistic expression in themselves.”
This is worth multiple readings. I really hope he writes a follow up — he has the material for it!
(2) Andrew posted an essay a few days later that’s part of a series on “borders.” He explores what borders mean in art, especially now that technology makes work both accessible and ephemeral. In his words:
“While they inevitably shift and sway, we have internalized a notion of borders as critical to the integrity and functioning of our state and our politics. Similarly, while the edges are infinitely mutable, the notion of borders in artwork are of critical both to the functioning of the art market and to the non-commercial production of art. As we move more and more of our cultural output onto the internet, what becomes of our borders? Who patrols them and why, and to what end?”
Although unintentional, Andrew’s essay pairs well with Matt’s because they both explore the notion of what’s safe, what’s transgressive, and what’s valuable in each arena.
(3) In acknowledgment of REM’s breakup, Josh reposted an essay Ingrid had written for his zine Hermenaut about being the subject of an REM song. In Rockville Girl Speaks, Ingrid explores what it’s like to be “a footnote to rock history” — and not just a footnote — but one who is described in biographies and never consulted. Really great stuff, beginning with a conversation she had with a friend who ended up as a footnote in Monica Lewinsky’s story.
(4) In non-HiLo reading, I loved danah and Alice’s op ed in the NYTimes today on why current cyberbullying rhetoric misses the mark. This is a must read for YA writers, educators, and parents. Their piece addresses the disconnect between how adults describe bullying situations and how teens discuss them. More importantly, danah and Alice explore why teens use certain language, which has to do with empowerment and agency in situations where they lose control.
(5) Finally, one of my favorite finds of the week is a five part series called “Permanent Record: A trove of 1920s report cards and the stories they tell.” A writer found hundreds of report cards from the Manhattan Trade School for Girls and eventually began to try to track them down. The series includes scans of the report cards, photos of the young women, and when he has them, stories of their lives.
How’s that for a reading round-up to take into the weekend? Enjoy!