What I Read This Week - 4th June

Greetings from Wales, where the sun is shining. - What 36 Looks Like (Autumn Whitefield-Madrano at The New Inquiry)

With delayed marriage and childbearing—and, of course, the increased acceptance of saying no to either or both—comes a loosened idea of what adulthood itself really is, and its subdivisions are looser still. Age is just a number, but not because of what that Hallmark adage was designed to signify. It’s “just a number” because our conception of youth and aging is relative. There’s no such age as “old”; we collectively decide what “old” means, and within that we collectively decide upon the million variations of oldness: old enough to know better, too old to dress that way, old ladies. And because it’s relative, it’s always shifting, often without our consent. So the idea of a 40-year-old woman looked like one thing when I was 20, and another thing to me today at 36; what’s more, had I been 36 in 1982, a 40-year-old woman would probably have looked quite different than my conception of a 40-year-old woman today.

- Desiring Machines (Rahel Aima at The New Inquiry)

As a final analogue, think of Gossip Girl. The popular TV show has done more to crypto-normalize the New Aesthetic than any explanatory article ever can. Through surveillance, identification, geo-located tracking on maps, SMSed tips and “blasts,” and cunning social curation, she turns the Upper East Side into a dangerously coded space. The cast and their acolytes alike all plug in to the network to obsessively consume, collaborate, and disseminate information; to speculate and wonder about one another without getting confirmation

- On Everything and Nothing & Reading and Not Writing (Cheri Lucas)

I am a slow thinker, and an even slower writer. I don’t react and write as fast as everyone else, and wonder how others have the time to write something, and why I wasn’t writing something, and maybe if I spent all day thinking and reading and writing I could also generate something—something relevant, not something after everyone else has moved on.

- Why A Good Bar Is Essential to Sustainable Communities (Kaid Benfield at The Atlantic Cities)

you can’t download a pint of Guinness.

- Tourist Snapshots (Rolf Potts)

When, as travelers, we photograph a sight that is famous from having been photographed, we don’t capture an image; we maintain one. “Every photograph reinforces the aura,” Don DeLillo wrote in White Noise. “The act of photography becomes a kind of spiritual surrender: We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We’ve agreed to be part of a collective perception. It literally colors our vision. A religious experience, in a way, like all tourism. We are taking pictures of taking pictures.”

Or, to paraphrase Jean Baudrillard and Marshall McLuhan: Much of what we look for as tourists is not simply that which can be reproduced, but that which is always already reproduced: The hyperreal. In this way, the world itself becomes a sort of museum of objects that we have encountered before in some other medium.