desk lunch – 2015-10-01

Brought to you this week by Hamilton, currently devouring the brain of every person I know. If you’re looking for something linking this week’s three essays together, it’s something thematically similar: stories about how artists make their work and their careers happen.


This Is How You Become an Editor

They didn’t know about Mensah, the name I gave myself when I was eighteen, and if they knew the name, they could search for me online and know everything. Know about my messy relationships, know about my politics. To be unknown by everybody, or half-known, and to have to decide who should know which half of me, but never giving all of me, not even to someone I’d share a bed with, is to be constantly half-powered, half-committed, half-ready to leave it all behind. So I would joke with my coworkers, and we would swap stories over beers or Italian at a local spot for lunch, but I lied to them. I lied to everyone. I presented one man, but I was another man.

This is just a very good, winding story about going from a day job to a writing/editorial job, but I’m linking it for the passage above—finally able to own what you want to do and who you want to be. The day job/writer job split feels like Voldemort and his horcruxes a lot of the time.


“Make sure you value us. …Your students of color have worked twice as hard to get to where your white students are. Appreciate the work it took for them to get there.”

Really interesting quotes from students in MFA programs, but I’m particularly glad they interviewed comparatively a lot of Sarah Lawrence grads. I attended undergrad at SLC and ended up furious/uninspired by all of my writing workshops for the reasons listed in this piece.

LMM: I was like, Don’t look at Busta, don’t look at Busta. Then I look into the second row and Mandy Patinkin is sitting above Busta Rhymes. If there is a Busta Rhymes of musical theater, it probably is Mandy Patinkin. And it was just fucking crazy, when the people you’ve emptied your pockets to see are seeing you.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the composer of Hamilton and In the Heights, is like an actual ray of sunshine come to life. (See what he said about donating some of his grant money. UGH. ARE YOU REAL.) Every interview with him contains some moment or some line that strikes a little too close, and this interview in particular has a lot of good stuff about being Latin@ at a mostly white school, and working while also working, and. It’s a lot.


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desk lunch – 2015-09-24

Brought to you this week by THE POPE, who has been on Philadelphia’s civic backburner for like, at least a year now, the knob on the flame slowly turning every week and he’s gonna be here soon!!!! The city is shutting down on Friday and Monday! I can’t wait for this four-day weekend and all the places I won’t go because of traffic boxes and special pope passes for the suburban rail and NO TRAINS OR BUSES GOING ANYWHERE. Great times. I am rationing my chicken nuggets.


Threesome with Ambivalence by Jameson Fitzpatrick

To make room in the bed then,
slow evacuation of the self: who was I before I
was yours? what did I want

Poetry featuring sex and architecture! YES, AWL, MAKE ME SAD.


Facing into the writing of a piece of fiction, I always feel a lot like Cheever’s Neddy: at once hungover and amped up on a self-congratulatory buzz, at once sure of the strokes I need to make and slowed down by the residue of all the messes I have made before. There is a story, I know; there is a story I can write, a story I want and maybe even need to write, but it is so far away…. There is such a way to go, setting out on a new piece of writing.

There’s this and something Lin-Manuel Miranda tweet about his process for musicals:

And this is something I’ve learned and something I hate that I’ve learned: I can’t develop every idea, because some aren’t right right now, and some aren’t right ever, and I don’t have the time for every idea. So for something to make it out of a note in my drafts folder or grow from one line in scrivener, it has to be good and we have to be right for each other. That requires patience and I have very little patience for myself and the fact that good things need time. Process! It’s dearly miserable fun! No regrets!


Rita Moreno quietly tears Animal and his drumming apart on The Muppet Show. IN SPANISH. I gasped and rewatched like five times because SHE’S SPEAKING MY LANGUAGE. How many times did my grandmother pull this exact stunt on me growing up!!! Like a MILLION.

Related: The Muppets‘ reboot premiered this week and it had one great line:

Miss Piggy: I hate the smell of lilacs in my dressing room. Fix it.

Kermit: Yes, I’ll talk to god about lilacs.


Harold’s Chicken Shack #35
fried gizzards w/ fries
your dad orders it for you
& you are too young
to know what you’ll have
to swallow &
too old to refuse food.

For one of my posts at The Rumpus this week, I included a link to an interview with poet Nate Marshall because I fell into it and his poetry headfirst and it’s tremendous. Link has the interview, but here’s the poetry. There’s more at the excerpt from his new collection, Wild Hundreds.


desk lunch – 2015-09-10

My husband and I study history, specifically the late Victorian era of the 1880s and ’90s.  Our methods are quite different from those of academics. Everything in our daily life is connected to our period of study, from the technologies we use to the ways we interact with the world.

Earlier in the week, The Big Story that caught my eye was on The Awl about what freelance writers are paid, but then these pseudo-Victorians rolled into Vox and everything went out the window, mostly because 1) VICTORIANS! and 2) I write fiction and very short essays, not longreads based on hours of research and reporting, as almost every writer quoted in that piece. So it was like a quick glance into a place that didn’t hold much interest for me.

Anyway! The pseudo-Victorians are way more interesting because wow they fueled fascinating discussions on my timeline all day from all the historians and academics RISING FROM THE DEEP to provide their take on this complete nonsense.

I’m not a person to harp on about the importance of historical accuracy; we should think of historical accuracy as a thousand facets of the same stone. There’s no way to create one all-encompassing narrative of one life, let alone one narrative out of the lives of millions of people across decades, across a country and an empire. What I find more depressing are people who take their privileged arts-and-crafts 21st century “””organic””” approach to recreating life in the 19th century. The author of the piece takes the path of reconstructive nostalgia, where people of the past and their “simpler” technology are more virtuous than we parasitic Twitter addicts who don’t bake their own bread with homegrown sourdough cultures.

Like, I just washed and dried two loads of laundry in 80 minutes without leaving my apartment building!!! After a full day of work where I didn’t inhale poison chemicals or brutally die due to safety hazards!! I’ll keep glancing into the past through novels, primary sources, essays, whatever else I can get my hands on, but trading Wendy’s for debtors’ prison and the worst pies in London? Hard pass.

(I’d include colonialism, but I don’t think colonialism is the far-off fantasy we’d like it to be.)

Three excellent microfictions at The Offing, but the last piece is tremendous.

Yo, speaking of history and the rich tapestry of space-time that we wrap ourselves in every day of our lives.

And on other days, I didn’t write a single word. Yes, it’s true. Why? Sometimes, it’s because I was busy being alive. Other times, it’s because the story I was working on simply wasn’t ready to be written yet.

Just one more weapon in my arsenal of patience for myself and my self-loathing. I had a writing project I meant to draft over Labor Day weekend, but instead I outlined it, submitted work to a lot of places, and spent three days seeing friends and enjoying hot dogs and central air conditioning. That’s okay.


desk lunch – 2015-08-27

Brought to you this week by books. James Nestor’s nonfiction book on freediving and the ocean took longer to read than I expected, but then I devoured Nora Ephron’s Heartburn literally Saturday into Sunday. There’s a movie based on Heartburn, but it’s one of those books that is such a book that I can’t bring myself to watch it right now. Also, Meryl Streep as Nora Ephron and Jack Nicholson as Carl Bernstein? Let’s… not. (This has nothing to do with imagining the wrong actor from All the President’s Men as Carl Bernstein throughout the entire novel. Nope. Totally unrelated.)

Now I’m on Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, and with that I will have finished all of Jane Austen! Now that I’m reading it, I’m glad I wasn’t in a rush to get through with Northanger Abbey– it’s so much more ironic and absurd than every other Austen, starting with the author’s note and sinking all the way through into every sentence. I don’t want it to end.


One of the more subtle underlying issues with the rise of Uber is the company’s slow siphoning of the political will to fix existing—or build new—public transit infrastructure in major cities…. As the wealthy—and, as the prices of Uber and Lyft fall, the slightly less so—essentially remove themselves from the problems of existing mass transit infrastructure with Uber and other services, the urgency to improve or add to it diminishes. The people left riding public transit become, increasingly, the ones with little or no political weight to demand improvements to the system.

I chose a particularly cynical quote to excerpt from this piece on the future of Uber/the privatization of the public transport infrastructure, and I made that choice because this is where Uber hits me, right now, in 2015. Fortunately, Philadelphia’s cab system has an app that’s just as convenient as Uber, and it’s still providing regular maintenance to its public transit system, but for how long? That’s really what this piece on The Awl gets at: if Uber is the future of public transit in urban areas, what will it look like in the very near future as public transit collapses but Uber still isn’t any more affordable for those who can only afford public transit?


There’s always been a link between privilege and mobility within the arts. If you are an artist, you are lucky if you can afford the time to work on your craft, and even luckier if you can afford the supplies required of your craft, and even luckier still if you are able to afford to respond to calls for conferences, residencies, and colonies.

This excellent essay from The Rumpus on the cost (financially, day-job-professionally, personally) of attending writers’ residencies. It articulates each of the thousand human complications that ensure I’ve never applied for a residency: what would happen to my job in the meantime? My apartment? My friends? Where would I get the money to pay for it? For expenses there? As prestigious as something like Bread Loaf has always sounded, the odds of being in the 5% who qualify for financial aid has never seemed worth the effort of applying.


It’s been a week and 26 million views, but seriously: have you watched One Direction’s video for Drag Me Down? It’s not news that the song itself is a jam and a half, but when the video premiered last Friday, I was shrieking way more intensely about the gratuitous use of NASA all over the place.

Best of all, this wasn’t a one-way arrangement! Official NASA twitter seemed to have tons of fun promoting their toys and the video all morning. I adored our anthropomorphized space program enough to Storify the moment.


desk lunch – 2015-07-23

Brought to you this week by our theme: working writer’s block, which I contend is different from writer’s block because it’s not lack of ideas here, but literal lack of time between reading projects, work projects, and a week-long vacation “project” (read: vacation) that will see me reading comic books and Station Eleven and eating enough lobster rolls to make the ocean rise against me and take its revenge. I plan on befriending five sharks. If I happen to write, then well done, fantastic, but I’m off to see the ocean and nothing else.

So on this vacation eve, I’ll link to these two essays about the total unworkingness and unworkability of ~the writing life~ because 1) could be worse and 2) certainly feels as bad as all that on some days.

(If you scroll past the quotes, I talk about musicals.)


What does a middle-aged, post mid-career, multi-genre writer do when she moves to a new community where she knows no one? Firstly, she hits the woods to walk out the demons. Then, she integrates: joins jam sessions, plays guitar or reads from her work at open stages, befriends neighbours, plays cribbage at the Legion, talks to strangers. She brashly calls the local newspaper editor and lands a full-page spread: accomplished new author in town. She hands out business cards: name, address, and TWUC (Writers Union of Canada) web-link on one side, titles on the other. She sells books at yard sales and craft fairs.
Then, she loses her radio job: the company sells, there are cutbacks. Then, she panics.
This may well be where my nervous breakdown will come: here, in this IKEA. Today I am a fake writer writing in a fake office at a real desk, model name KLIMPEN/LALLE. Its main characteristics are whiteness and modesty. Its chair is rather uncomfortable, but IKEA isn’t paying me to be here, so I don’t have to be anything but honest. The Amtrak residency, this ain’t.


If there’s one show I absolutely never need to see again because I saw it like four or five times on Broadway when I was in high school, and because I still have the CDs of the original Broadway cast and the complete symphonic recording despite having no way of playing said CDs anymore, it’s Les Mis. (Don’t worry, they’re in iTunes. Oh, don’t you worry.)(I read the brick when I was 14. Where did I find that kind of fortitude?) I’m definitely inoculated from ever seeing a production of Les Mis ever again. Maybe forbidden. Is forbidden the word I’m looking for?

AND YET!!!!!!!!!!!! When did Les Mis embrace its own true heart and become charged with a transcendent homoerotic SUBTEXT-MADE-TEXT. Let’s look at the tape!!!

  • 0:19– Javert steps out of the shadows, reveals the LITERAL CHAINS he’s holding, waiting for Valjean.
  • 0:52– Javert SLAPS DOWN THE CHAINS. YOU’RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE, VALJEAN.
  • 1:10– Second most important action of this movement: Javert climbs on Valjean, gets one cuff on, spends critical moments not restraining the other hand but really getting a hold on him, while singing, because musicals. Because isn’t it wonderful to hold your own true convict against you, both of you sing-fighting for your lives.
  • 1:30– VALJEAN GETS LOOSE and (first most important action) immediately wraps the chain around Javert, brings Javert to his knees, chokes him a little. While singing. Is there anything better than a musical.
  • 1:45– Valjean remembers there’s a dead lady in the room and Javert pants on the floor, half agony, half hope.

I suppose this is what happens when Ramin Karimloo and Will Swenson, Young Fit People who are able to throw each other around, are cast as Valjean and Javert? (God knows Ramin and his long-time MUSICAL GUY PAL Hadley Fraser have had their moments. Moments. Hadley Fraser has moments. WHAT.)

Anyway, which came first: this Broadway throw down or Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe’s ridiculous swordfight from the terrible 2012 movie? Someone pay me to write a performance history on the evolution of homoerotic physicality in Les Mis’s “Confrontation” across the ages. THERE’S SOMETHING THERE.


desk lunch – 2015-05-21

Brought to you this week by EXHAUSTION. I moved into my fifth apartment in Philadelphia this weekend. I only have to unpack the kitchen and then I can finish putting everything in the places they’ll stay until I move again in 2-3 years. I have a makeup mirror that I can’t hang up in my bedroom anymore and it’s resting on my desk so I can better embrace my Lady of Shalott aesthetic. Tirra lirra by the train tracks seriously will someone organize my kitchen for me.

How do you not understand that a vigorous and generous financial aid system is relevant for ALL students, because it ensures your kid will be going to school with people from vastly different class and income backgrounds?
I guess that did not necessarily seem like a plus to some people.

The Nicoles at The Toast are the college counselors I wish I had at my tiny Catholic high school way back when. The link above has much better advice than such stunning observations from my high school’s counselor, like: well, with those PSAT scores you won’t get into an Ivy League school, so just go to [state school everyone in my class attended, like in SAVED BY THE BELL: THE COLLEGE YEARS, a show that NO ONE enjoyed. And didn’t Kelly DATE HER PROFESSOR?]. I never went back to said counselor’s office, and I didn’t bother asking for useful advice like how I could get application fees waived or whether it was even possible to negotiate a financial aid package.

I can’t be too bitter because in the end, my chosen school came through with an aid package that covered the sizable tuition bill. However, I’m still paying off four years’ worth of expensive room and board. It’s these really boring, common, money-related considerations that make me the worst person to play if you could change one thing about your life: the answer is always GO BACK IN TIME, GET TO COLLEGE FOR LESS.


On Monday I saw Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood video about 15 minutes before Nicki Minaj and Beyonce released Feeling Myself and… I LOVE THEM BOTH. SO MUCH.

Look at these two complementary celebrations of female wish fulfillment!!! First there’s the hyperfashionable desert meetup where you eat burgers and tick off the benchmarks of your incredible professional success. Neither person begrudges the other their success and the burgers are incredible, as is your hair and makeup and everything about you.

Then there’s the other side of The Dream, where you have so much money you invite your squad to shoot a four-minute action movie. You celebrate your success by creating this lavish piece of work. You get ZENDAYA TO THROW KNIVES. You engage your supermodel bff in Xena-level kickboxing that would make Sappho throw down her lyre to watch. Top all that off with a sci-fi aesthetic more interesting than the $250m blockbuster with a robot in the title and I’m here for every second of it. (Except for the music. Oops.)


I talked to my agent about it, who was really supportive, but referred to me as “powerless” in the situation. I understood what he meant—that I had no leverage with which to make this editor respond to me—but the word struck me, because I don’t feel powerless at all. I feel exactly the opposite: that they need voices like mine. That if they don’t take them, it’s their loss, not only morally and aesthetically but (in the long run) financially, and no one will wait for them to catch up with the new culture we’re creating. We’ll just go ahead and create it.

It’s worth reading the above from Monica Byrne, a writer with an offer from WIRED to write a pop culture column. Her first batch of interesting pitches were rejected, and the second batch never acknowledged. It’s an awful thing to have the offer of a steady gig slowly drop out from under you, but this excerpt struck me for the truth of its optimism. Work that grows from where you are, from your experiences, from the life you’ve lived, can’t be ignored. (She said, more to herself than anyone else, because there’s nothing more difficult to convey than GENUINE HONESTY. Typing those two earnest sentences was the most painful thing I’ve done all day.)

Related: Byrne also published her anti-resume last year, a detailed spreadsheet of every lit mag submission, fellowship/residency application, or query to an agent sent since 2007. That’s almost 600 submissions with a success rate of 3%. It’s both humbling and reassuring that my own acceptance rate can dream to aspire all the way to 3%!! (We’re currently at better than nothing!!! percent.)

In fact, I think that sick girls will outlive everyone in the coming zombie apocalypse. You will never meet better tactical thinkers; we know which hours of the day we can go to the grocery store without running into a teeming horde of toddlers who’ll try to kick our canes out from under us (a weekend foray to Trader Joe’s is frankly excellent supply-run preparation in this regard). We know with eerie precision how many steps it’ll take to get to any marker in a room, and we can plot the best courses to conserve our energy.
where is the lie

desk lunch – 2015-05-14

Brought to you this week by Anna Chlumsky’s beautiful long-overdue freakout on Veep. 10,000 Emmys to both her and Ianucci for crystallizing in 100 seconds the life of almost every woman on the planet: we can’t have nice things because we tried one and it sucked.

Because what if Iago’s motivational difficulties, and his definitional rhetoric, really do not operate at cross purposes at all? What if Iago’s inability to describe his own motives without contradicting himself, and his diagnostic rhetoric, which scorns any opinions about the world that are not useful to him—what if these two monsters give birth to one another?

First: this essay is long. It is long, it’s funny, it’s engaging, but it takes a while to reach the point it’s trying to make: that the tragedy in Othello, and specifically what motivates Iago to bring the world down around their ears, tries to portray the limitations of a systematic, or hyper-rational, mind. Think of it as Spock’s dilemma in “Amok Time”: the hyper-rational person with unbreakable rules of conduct realizes something is wrong, but the way they run their life doesn’t allow them to identify the cause or the cure. In any case, I found it interesting to read a theory of how an unforgiving system could eventually collapse under the weight of its own mechanism.

I was never the best. I’m still not. I don’t say that because I’m trying to be deep or grab sympathy from the world, I say it because the past year of job searching has dug that fact into my cranium. From countless unanswered applications, to the countless “We regret to inform you…,” job hunting becomes a game of how confident can I be before I break.

I loved this for its relentless optimism. If I had to walk away from my 20s with only one thing, I would take this newfound ability to shrug off failure and continue to ram my head against a wall until it gives. I don’t know that it would have done much good to learn it earlier. I’m glad I have it now.

The act of explaining: It’s as if, before you speak, you have to relight the room you’re standing in. Dim this, walk in a lamp or two, replace a bulb. Can you see me now?

Another long essay, this one a review of Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts using a memoir-through-vignettes format that made it such a weird and captivating read.

Solgangsbris, a poem by Kenzie Allen
It’s this life I want, this valley
between the hills and high places,
the steppes of what, so far,
I have known.

You should follow The Offing and we should move to Norway.


If I bought this for my mom, she would literally weep for joy and I would never hear the end of it. I would hear stories, daily, about her and Robert, so I need to link this here and remember it for the next important gift-giving occasion. Then I can visit my parents’ house and look upon A PORTRAIT OF ROBERT DOWNEY JR IN 19TH CENTURY RUSSIAN REGALIA.

desk lunch – 2015-05-07

Brought to you this week by One Direction’s “Fireproof,” a very fine musical sedative that gets me to stop thinking/panicking for almost three whole minutes at a time!!!

This starts another argument between husband and wife, mild at first, but then it peppers and there is this thing that distance does where it subtracts warmth and context and history and each finds that they’re arguing with a stranger.

A phenomenal short story by Lesley Nneka Arimah, published in Granta and a winner of Commonwealth Writers’s short story regional prize. This was distractingly good, like I have to leave the house ten minutes ago but NO I DON’T NO I CAN’T I WILL FINISH THIS. So load it on Pocket or- just be late. It’ll be worth it.


REALLY PERSONAL OPINION: I’m over Avengers: Age of Ultron, the ~theatrical cut in theaters right now. I saw it opening night and I had fun! I had my friends, my bucket of soda, purse candy, and a long-term solid affection for the MCU that even casting Baskingshark Crumbsbucket as Doctor Strange couldn’t totally smother. Then the movie happened and, for various reasons, I found it disappointing and forgettable. Literally- apparently Chris Evans had 50 minutes of screentime and I can only account for maybe 12 of them. Forgettable. I’m over it.
 

LESS PERSONAL OPINION: While I’m over AOU, I’m not over discussing AOU because I’m fascinated by the conversations that surround every aspect of this movie. See, the conversations around last year’s The Winter Soldier centered on the themes of its story (contemporary “preventative” warfare; the surveillance state that makes it possible; every single thing about the dual figure of Steve Rogers/Captain America in the real/fictional American psyche). In conversations about AOU, story barely figures because the plot points were sloppy and forgettable. So far the best takeaway from AOU has been the way it made every writer I know leave their theater with a loud and firm I NEED TO WRITE ABOUT THIS. Here are two essays very much worth reading:

I’m not here to bury or praise Whedon, or the larger Marvel universe, or even Avengers: Age of Ultron;
I’m just a girl, standing in front of a movie universe, asking it to give her narrative and emotional consistency.

I went with the cheeky excerpt because to quote any one part of this first part is to end up quoting the rest. This piece uses the concept of “points of care” as a straightforward way to describe how you can lay out the stakes for any given character in a story. For the Avengers in AOU (the central Avengers with 3-5 appearances in the MCU each), those points were developed throughout Phases 1 and 2, and AOU the Phase 2 finale meant to cash in on that prior development. My main disappointment with AOU came from this fundamental difference between the movie promised and the one delivered. Marvel invested in characters over the course of years, and their big return to this reluctantly-formed team completely ignores that they’re wildly different characters from the characters who teamed up three years ago. This essay does a great job of articulating the storytelling failures that characterized the movie.

Once the movie came out, there were a metric ton of problems with how the character’s story arc was presented. And after everyone digested all that, the backlash started. A backlash that seemed centered on Joss Whedon as a person, and not on having a real discussion about the movie.

This io9 piece takes a look at Black Widow’s AOU context- not in-universe context, but an overview of our talk around her role. This reviews the buildup to Black Widow’s role in AOU/the MCU in general, the reception of her story in AOU once the movie came out, and the backlash/fallout directed at Joss Whedon when it turned out that his take on Black Widow was out of tune not just with Phase 2 but also with his own characterization in the first Avengers movie. Also, for this piece in particular: don’t read the comments.


To keep the diary was to defend against memory loss; the prospect of forgetting seemed to Manguso a fate worse than death. But her fixation on capturing every detail didn’t feel quite right either.

I think I’ve kept a journal almost my entire life, from the cute hot pink ones still buried somewhere in my parents’ house to the dark green moleskine in my bedside table right now. It’s difficult to keep a journal and this piece from Vela has stuck in my mind for just that reason. I’ve kept a journal for so long, I don’t know why I keep it, what I hope to get from it, or how it affects my writing. Questions that need evaluating, maybe in… my journal?!


That night, my wife and I began scouring real estate listings, and almost immediately warmed to Satchel-on-Hudson, a lovely village two hours north of the city…. Life out here is placid and wonderful, and has afforded me the time and space for things I could never do in the city, like jarring my own salsa and not living in New York.

desk lunch – 2015-04-30

Brought to you this week by #BaltimoreUprising.
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Historical romance is often (though not always) shorthand for a romance set in England, with the Regency era being the most popular setting. In these books, the duke/earl/viscount hero is usually white (with bronzed or golden skin—because the British Isles are known for their great tanning weather and tawny-skinned inhabitants). The heroines are usually fair—like, really fair—with milky, lily-white skin mentioned often enough to cause concern about their health.

So, you read romance novels or you sometimes think of reading historical romance novels, but the optics of said novels don’t hold much appeal for you: everyone is white; they’re probably rich and if not rich then privileged and literate enough to pass for rich; they claw at each other for titles; and the plot follows the attempts of an emotionally repressed people trying to process an insult hissed at them during a slow dance with a lot of pressing of hands. So, that doesn’t sound like Your Thing. Consider The Toast‘s roundtable featuring black authors of historical romance as they discuss the flawed optics of historical romance and how they’re working to change that. I’ve already preordered out their upcoming anthology of historical romance novellas, The Brightest Day.

Narrative can be oppressive. We fall straight from the womb onto a plotline: the world ushers us to see ourselves as protagonists and map out a lifelong plan…. I’ve always treated the imperative of a trajectory with anxious reverence; this is how an identity is made. But I feared the ambiguity of the process, the impossibility of knowing what narrative would be “correct.”

I think this is the first entry I’ve read in Jezebel’s Fake Friends series, but wow. Wow. This essay on the Frances/Sophie friendship in Frances Ha hits the movie’s points better than the movie did. Ultimately, I’m not sure how much I appreciate Frances Ha on its own terms. While I love Rachel Vorona Cote’s look at friendship/identification in this piece, I don’t know how to feel about the conclusion: that the best a Mature Adult Friendship can offer—should offer, if they want to remain Mature Adult Friends—is a lingering glance across the room.

There are some big debates still underway, not least of all what one might caricature as the battle between Dante and Gladiator, or the question of what makes a cultural artefact worth studying; those classicists who work on SF are usually of the opinion that both ‘high art’ and popular culture are equally worthy of examination. However, this division hints at the second possible reason behind the rise of theory in classical reception generally: in order to defend looking at things like film or SF, it helps to have a really intimidating theoretical justification to back you up.

Hey! It’s an overview of the recent scholarship surrounding recent interpretations of classical influences into science fiction! It’s a general overview with a good, recent reading list of sources, if this sort of thing appeals to your interests (how could it not!!!)

And if you haven’t read Ta-Nehisi Coates on Baltimore, here’s an excerpt and a link:
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