Check out the animated show Bat out of Hell on YouTube!

Don’t you think?

By il conte della luna [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

‘Irony has only emergency use. Carried over time, it is the voice of the trapped who have come to enjoy the cage.’

Hyde, Lewis. ‘Alcohol and Poetry: John Berryman and the Booze Talking’, American Poetry Review, reprinted in the Pushcart Prize anthology for 1987; quoted in David Foster Wallace, ‘E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction’, Review of Contemporary Fiction, 13:2 (1993 Summer); dedicated to ‘M.M. Karr’; reprinted in David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Little, Brown and Co., 1997.

Lay down all thoughts; surrender to the void.

‘[O]nly in the far east and in modern times have artists valued blank space’, says Daniel Mitsui in his 2002 essay on horror vacui. ‘Only Buddhists and Nihilists are interested in nothingness.’

Ten years later, I still don’t know enough either to endorse or reject those assertions. But seeing these iPad miniTM billboards around town, which push Apple’s minimalist aesthetic to an extreme I find both self-parodic and vaguely unsettling, brought Mitsui’s essay to mind.

See also: The last stanza of Philip Larkin’s ‘High Windows’.

Today in Porn: E-Commerce Edition

'Moloch!'

‘At lunch, the most common question, aside from “Which offensive d-ck-shaped product did you handle the most of today?” is “Why are you here?” like in prison.’

That line (in its original, unredacted form) comes from Mac McClelland’s ‘I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave’, an undercover report on what it’s like to work at a hellish hinterland packing facility for a certain, but unnamed, e-commerce entity. There’s a bit to unpack here (as it were), what with the dehumanized workforce rushing at breakneck speed to fulfill orders for products that objectify the human body.

‘I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave’ appeared in — sorry, Mr Webb — Mother Jones, whose website seems to be down at the moment. But Google caches of the article’s four pages are available here:

Page 1          Page 2          Page 3         Page 4

Also worth a look — or, if you’re pressed for time, even more worth a look — is Cory Doctorow’s featurette on ‘I Was a Warehoue Wage Slave’. Scroll down to find a comment thread that will be of interest to readers of Korrektiv. The first commenter, one Deidzoeb, begins the discussion:

How do they deal with sexual harassment in a place that produces “offensive d-ck-shaped products”, or say a person who wants to do the lighting on a porn shoot? Do we assume that employees become asexual if they agree to work on a sex-related job? For a while, part of my job included preparing journals like Playboy and Penthouse to be microfilmed. Playboy microfilm made enough money that we were supposed to check every page for missing pages, printing errors, things like that.

We had one of those sensitivity and sexual harassment workshops one day like you see on The Office, not quite as ridiculous. I asked the instructor how I can avoid creating a hostile work environment or an accusation of sexual harassment when my job could seriously involve asking my female supervisor what to do about a torn page or printing error on a centerfold.

The instructor seemed a little annoyed by the question. He said it should be clear from the context of the situation. […]

More here.

Today in Porn: Grandma Wants to Watch a Nice Movie from Netflix Edition

Mr Potter, take notes for your next poetry slam.

Blatant Cross-Promotion

I even referenced The Moviegoer.

Speaking of New Orleans

More…

Growing up with writers

I finally took the time to do the important work of Googling this phrase I remembered hearing on NPR a few years ago:

Mr. YGLESIAS: Right. I mean, it is true that if you come from a family of writers, you understand that there is always an assassin in the family.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. YGLESIAS: I don’t really know any other way of doing the writing. So I didn’t feel I had any choice. And there were times when I considered just not publishing the book or not showing it to anyone. But I also knew that I felt that so acutely, that it was so dangerous, was also a sign that I was writing it correctly.

GROSS: Had your parents, in their novels, written characters that you knew were based on you that you found troubling?

Mr. YGLESIAS: Actually, even when someone writes you in a novel flatteringly, the truth is it’s always troubling because it’s odd to be a minor character in someone else’s life since we’re always the major character in our own lives.

GROSS: Oh that’s so interesting, the way you put it.

Mr. YGLESIAS: It’s always disturbing.

GROSS: So was that upsetting to see that in your parents’ work you were a minor character?

Mr. YGLESIAS: It was very strange, always disturbing. And I believe, although people will say otherwise, that it’s always disturbing to people to appear in someone’s book. It’s just – it offends the natural narcissism of every individual.

From a 2009 episode of “Fresh Air,” in which Terry Gross interviews Rafael Yglesias about his novel based on his marriageA Happy Marriage: A Novel.

Exhibit A: Churchill?

People Using Pseudonyms Leave Better Blog Comments.

Posted without comment.

Men lose their MINDS, people. LOSE THEIR MINDS

Psychologists at Radboud University in The Netherlands carried out the study after one of them was so struck on impressing an attractive woman he had never met before, that he could not remember his address when she asked him where he lived.

Men lose their minds speaking to pretty women.

Being a Girl

My alma mater had many positive offerings, but what it did not offer was a wealth of traditions passed down through the ages that bound us together as one.

At least, this was the opinion of parts of the administration, who therefore decided to form a committee on Social Life and Traditions. The first stage was an exhaustive survey which we completed in residence hall meetings (not dorms – they’re not just for sleeping, we reside there). The survey asked us if we had suggestions for new traditions, fond memories of existing rituals at the school, new ideas. I filled mine out very thoroughly. Respondents would remain anonymous.

A couple of weeks later, I was interviewing to be a resident assistant – several  of us had made it to the “group interview” stage, in which we sat around a conference table and demonstrated our ability to exchange ideas from diverse perspectives in a spirit of mutual respect and collaboration. We made polite conversation while the dean shuffled through her papers to prepare for the formal interview.

All of us happened to be female.

Halfway through the interview, the dean set the script aside and invited us to lean in for a frank discussion of the survey on Social Life and Traditions.

“I have to tell you, ladies, we are up against some obstacles here.”

She panned the room conspiratorially.  “Would you like to hear what some man wrote on his survey?” She opened a file folder and read:

It is unclear to me why it is necessary for the administration of this university to impose traditions upon the student body when the point of traditions is that they develop organically as a result of shared experiences. I can’t help but wonder how successful this effort will be given the extremely artificial nature of the entire enterprise…

I blushed. Tried to look merely curious, and stammered, “Are you sure that a man wrote it?”

“Oh, ho, ho! Yes, girls, I’m sure that a man wrote this.” I contemplated the years I’d spent developing a fluid, curlicue-based handwriting –  in hopes of beguiling suitors with carefully penned letters – and realized they had all been wasted.

“Well, but I mean, it could have been…oh, never mind, I guess it doesn’t matter.”

I wanted the job. And I knew the committee would be dead in the water by the end of the semester.

I realize that most of the characteristics I dislike about myself are also characteristics I associate with stereotypical femininity, and that’s…not really healthy, I’m sure.  And yet I decided to put “All you need to know is that I’m a lady” as my descriptor here, because – well, there is something to be said for being a lady – certainly versus a gal.

I don’t know, I just can’t seem to stay on the straight and narrow lately, I just keep going off-road with all these “what if I had (insert rejected opportunity)?” detours and coming back to “hmmrhph smrf hmph, MEN don’t have to make these decisions,” which: also not really true. And then there’s the Annual Christmas Freakout, which really is a thing, and consists of making EXTREMELY BOLD PRONOUNCEMENTS about THE STATE OF THINGS.

I just keep thinking, “WOMAN. Get ahold of yourself!”

Bad Catholic – How to Pray Badly

Guys, Bad Catholic is becoming an occasion of envy and looking back in despair, since the author is HALF MY AGE with thrice the wisdom. Maybe he’s like the Benjamin Button of the blogosphere and will be posting celebrity baby updates by the time he’s 37. But for now – How To Pray Badly:

…the Saint gazing at an icon of Christ does not gaze to gaze well, to get used to the Divine Face or to understand it. He gazes to confirm the suspicion that he cannot understand it at all. He gazes for hours to see the face of Christ for one second. He contemplates for years to realize that he has not enough lifetimes to contemplate. The expert would seek an answer. The Saint seeks a mystery. The expert would gaze well. The Saint looks at the face of Christ like an idiot child looks at a bird on his windowsill.

This Christianity of ours is dying. It is dying because we are seeing it for 999th time. Its language has been destroyed. Think of the phrase our Evangelical-Protestant culture has gifted to the world. “Jesus Saves.” This is entirely true, but it is entirely dead.

And just as my fingers were poised to type “MERDE,” he goes and quotes Walker Percy…

Note to treasurer: Cut checks to ghostwriters, stunt doubles

This has nothing to do with the mission of Korrektiv, but I just think it’s funny. A “social media expert” fired one of his ghostwriters and, well:
I wonder how much ghostwriting for Twitter brings these days?
WAIT. I think I can work this into my presentation…

Another Perspective

   Religious people are nerds.

Flip

My parents were black belts in banter. One-liners exchanged at the dinner table with perfect timing, spot-on but never hurtful – at least, not as far as I could tell. I loved it, loved being in on the joke.

Phone calls home from college with both parents on the line inevitably declined into back-and-forth interruptions between the two of them, frustrated with the other’s “interruptions,” occasionally joined by made-up members of the household like the cat, a fully sentient creature with a richly imagined fantasy life living abroad in Europe. I kind of thought this was normal.

I bonded with one of my closest high school friends trading stories of our parents’ arguments, and she can still reduce me to tears with her imitation of them. I remember trying to describe my parents’ conversations to other friends and encountering wary looks – did they always talk to each other like that? Was my sharing these stories a cry for help?

And I’d clarify – no, no, it’s not like that. Don’t you get it? My parents are hilarious.

But my relationship with my husband is different – his parents didn’t spar with one another in that way, and although he does have a great sense of humor, I know it hurts his feelings when I make a smart remark about him. And same for me – I know he avoids making quips at my expense because of his love for me. The context would be different.

It’s about reverence, for him – it’s out of respect for me that he doesn’t make fun of, say, my perpetual fitness journey. And, at the same time, I can remember my dad ribbing my mom about the same topic and – I don’t know, I can’t put my finger on it, it was just different.

This juxtaposition of humor and reverence – well, I guess you don’t have to worry about it if you don’t give a crap about anything, right?

I’m just thinking about this in terms of the Stephen Colbert/Jack White video clip; I see what people are saying about the profanity, and Colbert’s whole faux-conservative shtick, but with the video, I don’t know – it just seems different to me. It doesn’t scream “irreverent.” But, of course, it is. Colbert’s profanity in particular feels like “I can hang with the tough kids,” and I think he could have pulled off a “hey, watch your mouth, this is Sunday school we’re talking about” and the clip would still have been funny.

Just – toothless humor is not funny at all, to me. I think everyone fundamentally believes there’s a line you don’t cross when you’re making jokes – we just all disagree about where the line is.