Second Balcony

I want to claim Mallory Ortberg for conceptual writing. Her best works do simultaneous ‘that’s so random,’ parody, and allegory with a single formal operation more or less mechanically executed. That weird interplay between destroying meaning, laying-bare a structure, and creating a new meaning is a lot of what I love about conceptual writing. 

If you’re going to be reading Aaron Bady-style defenses of the excellence of modern online activism’s fast and furious performative broad strokes against injustice, maybe keep in mind the magic mixture of utilitarianism and intentionalism that they’re always built on: it goes something like ‘it’s good you punched this person as an action to end capitalism, because capitalism ending is more important than a person’s supposed right not to get punched,’ bracketing any question of whether the punching’s gonna contribute to ending capitalism, and even of whether the puncher had a reason to think punching’s gonna contribute to ending capitalism. The formula is that an action that’s affiliated with some radical agenda is measured by contrasting its costs or damages with the importance of the agenda, not with its expected contribution to that agenda.

Ever since turning 26 – I’m 27 – I’ve felt violently ashamed of there still being things that I want to experience and not just things I want to make. I don’t know if it’s metaphysically driven or it’s people-my-age-have-kids driven. 

Buffy Season 6 was an extremely strong and very strict revival of the the early 1600’s Life is a Dream wave (like, Quixote and The Tempest and L'illusion Comique and Lo Fingido Verdadero and Doctor Faustus and La vida es sueño): failure of narrative + magic + illusion + pyrrhonian skepticism + melancholy + cyclicality + genre-switching + grief + metafiction + theatrum mundi. 

It’s amazing how much Sarah Nicole Prickett’s glam-radical bullshit hinges on equating female sexuality with the desire to be sexually desired. In SNP world being sex-crazed makes you go become a stripper, not go patronize a strip-club; it makes you go be a prostitute, not go call a prostitute; it makes you model nude, not masturbate to someone’s picture… I mean, sexual narcissism is a major part of lots of people’s lives and it deserves an aesthetic and political defense, but in the SNP world it’s intensity of sexual narcissism, not intensity of wanting someone sexually or wanting everybody sexually or wanting to have sex, that makes a woman sexual or prudish. 

The reason that I love Wes Anderson’s first four films is his once amazing talent for the interaction between way-of-being and Aristotelian action as constituents of character. It’s so rare that a character’s vibe and a character’s narrative choices mutually illuminate the way they did for every character – he was the best since Chekhov. 

n+1 ran out of things to write editorials against and now each issue has an editorial against an aspect of n+1’s old ‘against x’ editorials?

What’s the relation between irony* and cuteness? Why is there a whole aesthetic category — ‘twee’ — that means ‘cute+ironic’? Is it cause the alchemy of fusing opposite affects — if cuteness stands for innocence and irony for knowingness —  is neat enough to mark a genre, like the Gothic is the fusion of the beautiful and hideous? Or is it cause relating to something as cute is in itself a stance of both immersion and superiority toward the thing, so to be cute in one’s own eyes entails an irony-relation to oneself? Or cause weak irony, the kind amounting to admission of contingency but without pushing further**, is akin to cuteness in employing vulnerability as self-defense?

*I’m talking irony as distance here, not irony as actually-I-mean-the-opposite. 

**The contrast class is irony pushing for sublation, so Hegel-strong-irony, or irony pushing for diffusion into the field of possibilities, so Schlegel-strong-irony, or irony pushing for having a comeback for everything, so Fichte-strong-irony.

Computational aesthetics, back by request:

Read More

It’s barely represented in TV and film that couples spend most of their private time talking weird gibberish. 

Ten years ago my taste — like, only liking things that have this alienated German-Romantic frigidness to them, in a Schlegel irony sense but more importantly a Schiller pathos sense where frigidness necessitates an emotional earthquake to constitute itself as a sublation of  —  was considered *so* masculinist, if arguably queer. Now it’s kind of the defining feminine aesthetic of the moment, with Gaga and Lana Del Rey and Lorde. (Previously seen in 2003-2006 hip hop, between when Jay-Z finished teaching everyone how to do it and when Jay-Z forgot how to do it.) 

As one of, I swear, probably a dozen people who know both the utilitarian-rationalist scene and the privilege-checking scene up close, I’m pretty sure there is a structural phenomenon where discourses initially marked by an increased attention to neglected (deliberative or explanatory) factor x turn into discourses where the idea of non-x-based reasons (whether explanatory or deliberative) is crossed off as false consciousness.

An Integral Over The New Inquiry

'Facebook is affective labour for the NSA.'

I found out that this writer that I’m friendly with created Lemongrab and now it seems so ontologically terrifying that a person’s mind can burrow into other people’s minds and, like, lay eggs. I mean it’s specifically terrifying with surrealist stuff where the art object doesn’t feel like an idea that’s separable from the mind that generated it but like a DNA sample.  

Annie from Community is so important. The contemporaneous out of control will-to-power and out of control hyper-retro-femininity is what’s going down with half of the most-close-to-genius people that I ever met.