Collage by Alexis Anne Mackenzie
How things have changed since my last Reading Group post... Well, they've changed a bit anyway and that is pretty cool. This is a mishmash of stuff really and some of it is quite old but that doesn't mean it isn't good and this blog, even in its glory days, has never been about topicality. I was about to hate on topicality and our obsessive focus on the new at the cost of the interesting/quiet/beautiful but then that seemed flippant. There are plenty of great things about topicality and fast news but for now let us slow down and ponder some old news...
- HackYourFuture: Hack the Word - James Bridle: I can't even remember all that much about this one apart from 'it was interesting' and 'that is a great quote I saved down'. Fan fiction, the internet, writing - so many of my favourite things to read/think about. "Fan fiction is the first native literary form of the network. It has existed for a long time, before the internet, but it finds its best home there, out with the domains of copyright and fixed authorship rigorously enforced elsewhere. It seems native to the network because it embodies the network's inherent disposition towards hacking and world-building, overlapping fictions which take from anywhere to generate new stories." As a related aside, Morgan's fandom autobiography is cute and will hopefully be the start of an excellent ff series on The Toast.
- In Defense of Cheerleading - Anne Helen Petersen: Really, The Toast are doing a great job. By far my favourite new website in a looooong time - so much thoughtful, funny, female lead content. Amazing original writing. Just what you would expect from Nicole and Mallory but still, THUMBS UP. [And screw you, Bustle.] I love AHP in all her guises and her latest on cheerleading as a negotiated pleasure and her own experiences with the sport (sport?) is predictably great. "There are things I regret about high school — not dating the guy who was clearly my match; actually (sorta) dating the guy who chewed tobacco. Being so moralistic, not eating avocados, not being nice to my mom. But cheerleading has never, and will never, be one of them."
- I was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl - Laurie Penney: Laurie Penney is cool, MPDG isn't, people can pigeon hole themselves but we are capable of change. This is a good article but mostly, "fiction creates real life". I couldn't agree more. "Manic Pixies, like other female archetypes, crop up in real life partly because fiction creates real life, particularly for those of us who grow up immersed in it."
- Are Gods Boring?: Wanting More from Yeezus - Emma Carmichael and Kiese Laymon: I read sooooo many responses to Yeezus when it came out - this is my favourite. I don't know how I feel yet about Emma taking over from Edith at the Hairpin but girl knows her hip hop. She and Jia are posting some excellent music. Excellenter than Yeezus which, I agree, should have been so much more. "In "I'm In It," in which Ye talks about a woman in language that verges on assault over a beat that has a woman "oh-ing" (presumably in pleasure?), he raps, "Black girl sipping white wine/Put my fist in her like the civil rights sign." Similes deserve better. Women deserve better. Kanye, I think, is better."
- The Ideal English Major - Mark Edmundson: SELF VALIDATION. Also, Why Stories Are Important. (See above.) Admittedly this does get a bit bombastic but good points are made and wonderful writers are quoted. "The English major reads because, as rich as the one life he has may be, one life is not enough. He reads not to see the world through the eyes of other people but effectively to become other people. [...] The experience of merging minds and hearts with Proust or James or Austen makes you see that there is more to the world than you had ever imagined. You see that life is bigger, sweeter, more tragic and intense—more alive with meaning than you had thought."
- No Country For Old Miley: Cormac McCarthy Describes the Video for “We Can’t Stop” - Celeste Ballard: When I first read this I just thought it was wryly funny but it has really stayed with me. It makes me want to read more McCarthy, it makes me want to interrogate youth in America, it makes me want to see beyond the surface. Surprisingly comic and beautiful. "Miley’s wide lined eyes stare down the barrel as she drags a mongoose stuffed and mounted, and holds a tiny deer wearing huge gold-rimmed glasses. Adulthood circles her like two vultures in the desert sky, eyeing the innocence that is already waning. They will pull the rest piece by piece from her abundant exposed flesh pouring out from under a t-shirt that both says dope and is indeed dope. Somewhere a girl with a dream and a cardigan is hung upside down from a tree. This is the west."
How about you? Any article recommendations or good new websites? I want to read it all. Like Pokemon, you know, but more bookish.