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Irony, Postmodernism, and Our Current Age

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The Essayification of Everything. The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless. Lately, you may have noticed the spate of articles and books that take interest in the essay as a flexible and very human literary form. These include “The Wayward Essay” and Phillip Lopate’s reflections on the relationship between essay and doubt, and books such as “How to Live,” Sarah Bakewell’s elegant portrait of Montaigne, the 16th-century patriarch of the genre, and an edited volume by Carl H. Klaus and Ned Stuckey-French called “Essayists on the Essay: Montaigne to Our Time.” The essayist samples more than a D.J.: a loop of the epic here, a little lyric replay there, all with a signature scratch on top.

It seems that, even in the proliferation of new forms of writing and communication before us, the essay has become a talisman of our times. What is behind our attraction to it? Is it the essay’s therapeutic properties? What do I mean with this lofty expression? I have had enough of irony | Suzanne Moore. The ultimate faux-pas is not laughing at someone's artfully told joke. Especially when it's a huge in-joke, but stuff it! I did not find the Eurovision song contest in any way funny or joyful.

Forgive me, for I have sinned against the law of irony. Instead of loving the whooping Twitter snark and the "witty" live blogging, I committed a veritable thought crime. Compulsory fun may be the anti-Viagra of actual pleasure but it's everywhere. OK, me! Every tabloid trifle, every titillating bit of pop culture naffness, is respun via clever ironic takes. Irony is not new nor an invention of postmodernism. When camp goes mainstream, though, it loses its power, thus Graham Norton was shipped out to Azerbaijan to be snippy.

Quite possibly, for this is the age where everything is not just of itself but about itself. For we are afraid, I think. We are now so impervious to the slings and arrows of the totes amazeballs fun world that only sad sacks complain. Magazine - Host. [Click the phrases within the colored boxes to read the commentary.] Mr. John Ziegler, thirty-seven, late of Louisville's WHAS, is now on the air, "Live and Local," from 10:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. every weeknight on southern California's KFI, a 50,000-watt megastation whose hourly ID and Sweeper, designed by the station's Imaging department and featuring a gravelly basso whisper against licks from Ratt's 1984 metal classic "Round and Round," is "KFI AM-640, Los Angeles—More Stimulating Talk Radio. " This is either the eighth or ninth host job that Mr. Ziegler's had in his talk-radio career, and far and away the biggest. He moved out here to LA over Christmas—alone, towing a U-Haul—and found an apartment not far from KFI's studios, which are in an old part of the Koreatown district, near Wilshire Center.

The John Ziegler Show is the first local, nonsyndicated late-night program that KFI has aired in a long time. "And I'll tell you why—it's because we're better than they are. " When Mr. A Timothy Leary for the Viral Video Age - Ross Andersen - Technology. Meet Jason Silva, the fast-talking, media-savvy "performance philosopher" who wants you to love the ecstatic future of your mind. I want to introduce you to Jason Silva, but first I want you to watch this short video that he made.

It will only take two minutes, and watching it will give you a good idea if it's worth your time to read the extensive interview that follows: If you ever wondered what would happen if a young Timothy Leary was wormholed into 2012, complete with a film degree and a Vimeo account, you have your answer: Jason Silva. If Silva, who was born in Venezuela, seems to have natural screen presence, it's because he's no stranger to media; he worked for six years as a host at Current TV before leaving the network last year to become a part-time filmmaker and full-time walking, talking TEDTalk. Like Leary, Silva is an unabashed optimist; he sees humankind as a species on the brink of technology-enabled transcendence.

Silva: Definitely. Right. You can even go beyond that. The Joke’s on You | Steve Almond. Steve Almond [from The Baffler No. 20, 2012] Among the hacks who staff our factories of conventional wisdom, evidence abounds that we are living in a golden age of political comedy. The New York Times nominates Jon Stewart, beloved host of Comedy Central’s Daily Show, as the “most trusted man in America.” His protégé, Stephen Colbert, enjoys the sort of slavish media coverage reserved for philanthropic rock stars. Bill Maher does double duty as HBO’s resident provocateur and a regular on the cable news circuit. But their sanctification is not evidence of a world gone mad so much as an audience gone to lard morally, ignorant of the comic impulse’s more radical virtues. Our lazy embrace of Stewart and Colbert is a testament to our own impoverished comic standards. Fans will find this assessment offensive.

We have come to accept coy mockery as genuine subversion and snarky mimesis as originality. What’s notable about these episodes, though, is how uncharacteristic they are. You got that? Jack Whelan: Can Humanism Prevail Over the Technocracy? - Living in Dialogue. Laughter Without Humor: On the Laugh-Loop GIF - Fran McDonald.

When is Natalie Portman's laughter not Natalie Portman's laughter? An Object Lesson. At the 68th Golden Globe Awards, a visibly pregnant Natalie Portman ascended the stage to collect the Best Actress award for her work in the psychological drama Black Swan. Her earnest three minute speech is standard Hollywood fare; she thanks her grandparents, her parents, her manager, her co-stars, and her director. She touches her stomach and thanks her fiancé, the choreographer and actor Benjamin Millepied. She tells a bad joke about how Millepied, who has a small role in Black Swan as a man sexually disinterested in Portman's character, must be a brilliant actor because of course he really did want to sleep with her, as evidenced by her swelling belly.

The audience laughs by rote; they are used to these carefully constructed asides designed to provide light comic relief from the otherwise relentlessly repetitive slew of near-identical speeches. What is it we're longing for? Psychological study. Why Are Easy Decisions So Hard? | Wired Science. One of the problems with writing a book on decision-making is that people assume I’m not terrible at making decisions.

As a result, they act surprised when it takes me 10 minutes to pick a sandwich or when I confess that I still get mild panic attacks when choosing floss at the drugstore. They believe that, just because I wrote about the prefrontal cortex, I’m somehow better able to wield mine. But that’s not necessarily the case: there’s an indefatigable gap between theory and life. While it’s true that I’m no longer quite so indecisive — I don’t spend 30 minutes debating breakfast cereals in the supermarket anymore — I still suffer from the occasional bout of “paralysis-by-analysis.”

In essence, my basic decision-making flaw is that I tend to treat easy consumer decisions (toothpaste, floss, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc.) as if they were really difficult. Why do I do this? To demonstrate their point, Sela and Berger conducted a number of clever experiments. Our Age of Anxiety. By Elaine Showalter Jonathan Barkat for The Chronicle Review In his controversial book American Nervousness: Its Causes and Consequences (1881), the neurologist George M.

Beard proclaimed that Americans in the 19th century led all civilized nations in their susceptibility to nervous, anxious, and depressive disorders. Beard named the mixture of negative emotions "neurasthenia" and attributed it to five developments in "modern civilization"—steam power, the periodical press, the telegraph, the sciences, and the mental activity of women.

In those major signs of modernity—and dozens of related ones, such as buying stocks on margin—the United States, he argued, was both "peculiar and pre-eminent" among advanced societies. Beard claimed that American nervousness "is the product of American civilization," and that this "distinguished malady" was seen most often among the cultural elite and the "brain-workers.

" Like Beard, Cvetkovich views brain workers as especially susceptible to depression. Falling Men: On Don DeLillo and Terror, Chris Cumming. New York Police officers are seen under a news ticker in Times Square in New York, April 16, 2013. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid) Some terrorist attacks become cultural obsessions, while others are forgotten completely. There were three bombings in New York City in 1975, none of which I’ve ever heard talked about, each of which would probably shut down the city if it happened now.

In January, Puerto Rican separatists set off dynamite in Fraunces Tavern in downtown Manhattan, killing four businessmen—the same number of fatalities, incidentally, that led us to close the airspace over Boston last week. In April, four separate bombs went off in midtown Manhattan on one afternoon, damaging a diner and the offices of several finance firms. These were underground disturbances, moments of disorder that helped warp the culture, even if they weren’t absorbed or even remembered. DeLillo’s fictional treatments of terrorism and mass shootings are extensive. Texas again. Imagine no heaven. Dear little Six Billionth Living Person: As one of the newest members of a notoriously inquisitive species, it probably won't be too long before you start asking the two $64,000 questions with which the other 5,999,999,999 of us have been wrestling for some time: How did we get here?

And, now that we are here, how shall we live? Oddly - as if six billion of us weren't enough to be going on with - it will almost certainly be suggested to you that the answer to the question of origins requires you to believe in the existence of a further, invisible, ineffable Being "somewhere up there", an omnipotent creator whom we poor limited creatures are unable even to perceive, much less to understand. That is, you will be strongly encouraged to imagine a heaven, with at least one god in residence. This sky god, it's said, made the universe by churning its matter in a giant pot. Or, he danced. Or, he vomited Creation out of himself. But here's something genuinely odd. A World Without Copyright - House Absolute(ly Pointless)

In discussions on Hacker News I’ve said several times that I think copyright should be abolished. Some people agree, but I often get a reply asking how I expect programmers, musicians, or authors to make a living in such a world. Before I address that question, I’ll take a brief digression. While I’m all for abolishing copyright, that doesn’t mean I’m against all property rights. Physical property rights are a good thing. Creative works covered by copyright are (mostly) not physical. Whether or not you support copyright, I hope we can agree that physical things and data are fundamentally different.

Copyright laws were initially established to encourage creative people to create stuff. This made (some) sense when these laws were created, but modern technology has made such laws obsolete. Here’s how a world without copyright might work. The right to release (or not) Just because copyright should be abolished doesn’t mean that there should be no rights for creators. Let’s start with music. Art. Do You Really Want to Live Forever? Imagine you are offered a trustworthy opportunity for immortality in which your mind (perhaps also your body) will persist eternally. Let’s further stipulate that the offer includes perpetual youthful health and the ability to upgrade to any cognitive and physical technologies that become available in the future.

There is one more stipulation: You could never decide later to die. Would you take it? Metaphysician and former British diplomat Stephen Cave thinks accepting such an offer would be a bad idea. Cave’s fascinating new book, Immortality, posits that civilization is a major side effect of humanity's attempts to live forever. Cave identifies four immortality narratives that drive civilizations over time which he calls; (1) Staying Alive, (2) Resurrection, (3) Soul, and (4) Legacy.

Why not simply repair the damage caused by aging, thus defeating physical death? Resurrection is his next immortality narrative. The Transformation problem is harder. Counterfeit? In Praise of Leisure - The Chronicle Review. By Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky Imagine a world in which most people worked only 15 hours a week. They would be paid as much as, or even more than, they now are, because the fruits of their labor would be distributed more evenly across society.

Leisure would occupy far more of their waking hours than work. It was exactly this prospect that John Maynard Keynes conjured up in a little essay published in 1930 called "Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren. " Given when it was written, it is not surprising that Keynes's futuristic essay was ignored. He asked something hardly discussed today: What is wealth for? We in the West are once more in the midst of a Great Contraction, the worst since the Great Depression. The first defect is moral. Second, the crisis has exposed capitalism's palpable economic problems. So let us imagine that everyone has enough to lead a good life. Let's begin by pondering the reasons for the failure of Keynes's prophecy. It was not ever thus. The 'Busy' Trap. Anxiety: We worry. A gallery of contributors count the ways. If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are.

It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.” It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this; it’s something we collectively force one another to do. Notice it isn’t generally people pulling back-to-back shifts in the I.C.U. or commuting by bus to three minimum-wage jobs who tell you how busy they are; what those people are is not busy but tired.

Brecht Vandenbroucke Even children are busy now, scheduled down to the half-hour with classes and extracurricular activities. Our frantic days are really just a hedge against emptiness. I am not busy. Refined dining. Shaped in an age of scarcity, our appetite for sugar, fat and salt now torments us. But there is hope ©Magnum/ Martin Parr Martin Parr's 'GB. England. The Omnivorous Mind: Our Evolving Relationship with Food, by John S Allen, Harvard University Press, RRP£19.95/RRP$25.95, 266 pages Taste Matters: Why We Like The Foods We Do, by John Prescott, Reaktion Books, RRP£20/RRP$30, 224 pages Taste What You’re Missing: The Passionate Eater’s Guide to Why Good Food Tastes Good, by Barb Stuckey, Free Press, RRP$26, 416 pages When my two-year-old daughter is invited to a children’s birthday party, I see the gustatory plight of the western world unfold in miniature.

At most such parties there is a conspicuous abundance of food: pies and buns, crisps and sweets, chocolate and cheese. Then the cake arrives, slathered with icing. From the moment they are born, child­ren are primed to like sweet stuffs because this predisposes them to suckle – breast milk is high in the sugar lactose. On Being Nothing. The Clutter Culture - Feature - UCLA Magazine Online. Global Capitalism with a Human Face? « AC VOICE.

The Banality of ‘Don’t Be Evil’ Pinterest, Tumblr and the Trouble With ‘Curation’ Haterade. Correlation does not imply causation: How the Internet fell in love with a stats-class cliché. James Howard Kunstler on Why Technology Won't Save Us | Jeff Goodell | Politics News. Public Influence: The Immortalization of an Anonymous Death - - News. How reality caught up with paranoid delusions – Mike Jay. The Rise of the New Groupthink. The History of Boredom. Now Hear This! Most People Stink at Listening [Excerpt] Harry Frankfurt's "On Bullshit". Revisiting why incompetents think they’re awesome. Liberals Are Ruining America. I Know Because I Am One. Fear of cannibalism drives us to look at this 'monstrous' image. And that's OK | Jonathan Jones.

Please Don't Learn to Code. Rebecca Solnit · Diary: Google Invades · LRB 7 February 2013. Pinker, Foucault and Progress « Utopia or Dystopia. Dark Ecology | Paul Kingsnorth. If you think we're done with neoliberalism, think again | George Monbiot. In Defense of Autobiography. The Age of the Essay. Relations. About New York; Sharing Baby Proves Rough On 2 Mothers. Inequality and the Modern Culture of Celebrity.

Column: Our collective obsession with the trivial. The Quest for Permanent Novelty. I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet. Tragedy's decline and fall. The Death of Postmodernism And Beyond. The Rise and Fall and Rise of the Chemistry Set. The Theory Generation. Thinking About Futurism. Zeitgeist 2012 – Google. How to Live Without Irony. Sincerity, Not Irony, Is Our Age's Ethos - Jonathan D. Fitzgerald. On Smarm. Rejoice! Believe! Be Strong and Read Hard! Conan O'Brien's Farewell Speech.