Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick would have been 63 today. Four years have passed since her death, but her absence is felt more, not less, with each. More than ever Sedgwick’s writing generates further writing and thinking from those who engage with it.
Sedgwick once said about reading affect theorist Silvan Tomkins: "I often get tired when I’m learning a lot." Her writing has the same effect—calming and invigorating—generative and tireless even if also sometimes tiring. In her posthumous collection, The Weather In Proust (2011), Sedgwick remarks that one form of antinormative reading can lead to many other types of theorizing—this is exactly how I feel about Sedgwick’s work. Forever [...]
Each television show will inevitably teach you something, but together they've all taught me one thing—that is, a television show will always teach you how to watch it. The education starts early: "Barney" or "Sesame Street," where learning to count is the same thing as learning how to learn to count. You might not realize it when you're eight and miming the clean-up dance on "Big Comfy Couch," but then the education continues. "Mad Men," that excellent serial drama, directs us to observe details, little gestures, big paintings—all meaningful subtext. Even shows fairly awful at teaching you how to watch them, like "Homeland" or "Smash," manage to convey something (don't [...]
Carrie: Jane, remember when the world was new, you were dewy-eyed and I was not yet so haggard, and "House of Cards" had only just become available for streaming on Netflix? It seems like years ago, but it was only last Friday.
Jane: Now it's a week later, Spandau Ballet's "True" is playing in this cafe, and if we were sitting together, I'd probably be telling you not to Bogart the whiskey. We've passed binge-viewing, Carrie, to re-watching, to you using "House of Cards" characters as verbs ("how much will I Peter Russo myself in the morning if I do this?"), to me looking up which of the series' actors [...]
As told by Arthur C. Clarke's 1990 novel The Ghost from the Grand Banks, 2012 is the year that would see the Titanic resurrected from the ocean floor. But the year is now 2012, and the Titanic continues to sit 12,000 feet below the ocean surface, rusting more with every passing year (indeed, it's predicted here that by 2045, only the hull will remain). The likelihood that any of us will live to see a resurrected Titanic outside a James Cameron movie now seems very slim.
While some predictions of science fiction have come [...]
There have been enough essays on the death of book reading, but have there been enough words devoted to discussing the decline of book reviewing? In the last decade or so—yes, indeed, as we've all wrestled with how the internet influences everything we do, including reading, writing, and writing about books (Tolstoy LOL tl;dr). But while the words "book-review" made its first print appearance as a headline in 1861 to just that—a review of a book titled How to Talk: A Pocket of Speaking, Conversation, and Debating (verdict: "The present work has the additional recommendation of an unmistakably useful subject, which is lucidly treated")—the practice of criticizing the critics [...]
In the final episode of "Freaks and Geeks," the Freaks group leader Daniel Desario accepts an invitation to play Dungeons & Dragons with the notoriously geeky A/V club. Surprised by Daniel’s warm receptivity to the game, the Geeks wonders what this means for their future status. As Bill puts it: "Does him wanting to play with us again mean he's turning into a geek or we're turning into cool guys?" Sam answers, "I'm going to go for us becoming cool guys." It's a nice ambiguous note on which to end the show.
Outside the universe of "Freaks and Geeks," a similar drift has occurred. Geekiness has accrued cachet, and [...]
The New York Times addresses current issues in three ways: as expressions of guidance on the editorial page, as expressions of individual opinion on the op-ed page, and as worthy (or not) of news coverage or analysis in the rest of the paper. It has grappled with how to cover Israel, for instance. And for the last 30 years, it has struggled with how to cover gay people. Now the paper has moved in all three departments from following to leading, from first using the word "homosexual" in 1926 to (tardily) using the word "gay" to pioneering gay wedding announcements. What can we learn about the paper's [...]