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Hurray For The Goddamned Idiot!

Who gives a shit what one white kid thinks?

For me, whether or not a memoir is true has nothing to do with its value as art. While I wonder sometimes what that stance says about me (sociopath? high-functioning autistic?), I believe that “real struggle” is no excuse for overwrought work. My imaginary dissertation is about how choreographers on “So You Think You Can Dance” slap a painful backstory on subpar numbers to elicit sympathy votes. Truth shouldn’t be an aesthetic consideration.

Still, that’s not to say that texts always operate in exactly the same way if we read them as fact or as fiction. This idea didn’t crystallize for me until the cartoonist Seth told me about a compliment he received from Art Spiegelman, who said he preferred It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken as a work of fiction. Intrigued, I asked Spiegelman to explain exactly what happened when he changed the lens.

"My first impression of the book was that it was a well-crafted, but excruciatingly slow and ‘low-stakes’ report on the artist’s not-all-that-exciting obsessional collecting," he said. "Learning it was all invented and not relatively straightforward ‘first-degree’ reporting made me slow down and pay more attention to the details of what Seth was showing on the slow ride, and even let it all read as parody of other low-stakes autobio work."

Kim O’Connor ruminates on autobiography, fiction, and truth

I don’t believe in sincerity in music. I don’t understand what it would mean. It’s the same as with cooking or any form of art really; sincerity has no meaning. Folk is a marketing category rather than a musical one. In the United States for example, Billboard Magazine used to have three categories for folk to be broken up into; folk, which was essentially white people singing in southern accents, race, which was black people singing in southern accents and anything else was just seen as pop. To me these categories just sound like the civil war. The north versus the south and the south is divided into two. We could even use that analogy elsewhere, for example traditional music from the British Isles is often classed as folk, whereas traditional music from anywhere else where they don’t speak English is called World Music. Racism defines the whole category of folk.

[ … ]

You could say that folk music is the middle classes singing the songs of the lower classes, and not attributing them to particular songwriters because they’re too condescending to bother to find out who wrote the song. You could actually say it’s wholesale theft, which it was in the case of The Carter Family. A.P. Carter blatantly lifted songs from other people and that was called “the folk process”. Others would call it theft. I guess my definition of folk music would be a contrived collision of racism and theft.

—Stephin Merritt, interviewed at Drowned in Sound

webjunk | music | magfields |
2014-07-29 (Tue)

“People in that world behave badly and they don’t even know it, and those are the good guys,said Kim O’Connor, and then wouldn’t you know, a bunch of commenters proved her right.  Pffuuuuuk….  

comix | webjunk | sexism |
2014-07-29 (Tue)

Cassandra Willyard:

Seeing women pitted against men is a rare occurrence in sports. Men compete against men, and women against women. That’s the way the world works. And sex segregation makes a lot of sense. Men are (on average) taller, faster, and stronger. But while segregation may save women from being perpetually benched and bested, it also reinforces the already pervasive message that women can’t compete with men, that our physiological short straw has doomed us to never being better than second best in athletic endeavors.

And that message is not only destructive, it’s also inaccurate. 

webjunk |
2014-07-29 (Tue)

This is important.

twitta | faust | punch and judy |
2014-07-10 (Thu)

Three panels excerpted from a comic strip by Ariel Schrag

The Ping-Pong Theory of Tech Sexism: A true (illustrated) story by the great Ariel Schrag. 

comix | webjunk | sexism |
2014-07-06 (Sun)

Comics Workbook has a PictureBox bibliography, compiled by Dan Nadel.  

comix | books | bibliography |
2014-07-03 (Thu)

Dave Shumka. 

2014-07-01 (Tue)

Breaking the low mood cycle or when you want to be the Life of the Party but have only enough energy to be the Housepet of the Party by Elodie Glass. 

MSPaint-style drawing--could be a cat, could be a whale with pointy ears, who can tell
“I’m going to stalk dramatically through the center of the conversation and then disappear. Don’t touch me.”

(The style of the post linked above seems to owe a lot to Allie Brosh, whose influence is disproportionate to her profile.) 

Tracking this information allowed planters to determine how far they could push their workers to get the most profit. Using the account books, slave owners could see how many pounds of cotton each slave picked and compare it to their output from previous years—and then create minimum picking requirements based on these calculations.

[ … ]

The concept of depreciation is also credited to the railroad era, when railroad owners allocated the cost of their trains over time, but Rosenthal notes that slave owners were doing this before then.

[ … ]

These account books played a role in reducing slaves to “human capital,” Rosenthal says, allowing owners who were removed from day-to-day operations to see their slaves as assets, as interchangeable units of production in a ledger, instead of as people.

Article from Harvard Business School webmag “Working Knowledge” about Caitlin C. Rosenthal’s work on slavery & capitalism.

webjunk | slavery |
2014-06-22 (Sun)