The Bluestocking, vol 260
a green egg of Silly Putty
The third episode of The Witch Trials of JK Rowling just dropped, and I’m in good company:, and Contrapoints (who has since recanted her involvement because reasons).
The episode was interesting, I think—we all spoke about the 2010s internet, and the twin poles of Tumblr (female-dominated, uwu, the incubator for lots of social justice language) and 4chan (male-dominated, deliberately offensive, the incubator for brigading, doxxing and edgelord jokes about the Holocaust).
I wonder how many other people apart from me spent significant time on both, and also whether this is why my brain is broken.
The End of the English Major (New Yorker)
Others, though, suggest that the humanities’ loss of cultural capital has been hastened by the path of humanities scholarship itself. One theory is that the critical practices have become too specialized. Once, in college, you might have studied “Mansfield Park” by looking closely at its form, references, style, and special marks of authorial genius—the way Vladimir Nabokov famously taught the novel, and an intensification of the way a reader on the subway experiences the book. Now you might write a paper about how the text enacts a tension by both constructing and subtly undermining the imperial patriarchy through its descriptions of landscape. What does this have to do with how most humans read?
This piece truly has it all: reflections on generational change (which 20-year-old wants to read a book quietly for hours on end?); a look at the unexpected side-effect of diversifying colleges, as children from immigrant families face pressure to do “useful” subjects because “you don’t go to Harvard for basket weaving”; and, finally, some of the most famous names in literary criticism sounding like absolute thumpers. (“Greenblatt popped open a green egg of Silly Putty and began to knead it vigorously. For a moment, he seemed lost in thought. ‘Better Call Saul,’ he added.”)
This man built the frog that lived in his garden gate a house. Then he built it a pond. Then he built it a hot tub and anti-possum panic room (twitter).
This clip of Donald Trump’s House of Wings commercial is the campest thing I’ve ever seen.
Why Artemisia Gentileschi’s Holofernes painting is better than any of the ones done by men (Cole Haddon, Medium).
“Finally we paid the bill and stepped out in the fading light of a Saturday afternoon that had cost us over £1200 and still left us hungry. Suddenly I felt betrayed.” (Farrah Storr, Substack). The backlash to Noma is here, baby. We went to L’Enclume in Cumbria (now three Michelin stars) once and were insanely underwhelmed by the ultramarathon of endless tiny courses. Who wants to be interrupted every five minutes to eat 5mg of froth on a spoon, or a single olive carved into a moai? Just give me a big rare steak and leave me alone.
“Most writers are not talkers for a reason. Stop encouraging them to humiliate themselves in conversation so that they can return to the impossibly difficult business of perfecting themselves in print.” Becca Rothfeld on why writers shouldn’t go on podcasts (Gawker, RIP). Thanks to Freya at Unherd for the tip.
“The #MeToo era was, among other things, a peak moment for what I have called photogenic feminism: a feminism focused on the plight of the young, gorgeous and ceaselessly hassled.” Phoebe Maltz Bovy on “hag feminism” (Unherd).
“[P]op star RAYE broke ranks with her label last year, claiming it wasn’t allowing her to release her debut album, despite having been working on it for seven years. A brilliant writer with a powerful voice, she was used as a hit machine for other artists (writing for everyone from Beyonce to Little Mix) and featured on hooks. Meanwhile, ‘I have had albums on albums of music sat in folders collecting dust,’ she wrote on Twitter, bravely calling out Polydor in what could have been a terribly risky career move.” On quiet forms of exploitation in the music business (Eleanor Halls, Substack).
Lawrence Freedman tries to work out the next phases of the Ukraine war, step by step (Comment is Freed, Substack).
I genuinely don’t know what to make of this clip of Steve Baker saying that the Brexit negotiations led him to a breakdown—and growing a beard—and that he’s glad to see the back of the “awful populism” the process inspired (twitter).
Remember that anti-piracy ad about how YOU WOULDN’T STEAL A POLICEMAN’S HELMET? The music in it was . . . stolen.
brb, eating a white chocolate creme egg because I am the MEGABIOME:
Showing my generational disability here, but, did anyone ever declare whether Fried Chicken Trump was real, SNL, Memorex?
Yep... was (and am still!) a bit fan of tumblr, and was thrilled that its role in the growth of identity politics/cancel culture was given due force in The Witch Trials... . 4chan though I found far too scary - thought if I even went on it for a second I would get doxxed/malwared. It's interesting that both sides are featured a lot in Rowling's latest, The Ink Black Heart, with characters Kea Niven and Wally Cardew pretty much embodying tumblr and 4chan respectively.
Interestingly, livejournal was not mentioned - it had a similar obsession on purity/cancel culture but was very much turned on itself, Crucible style, so perhaps didn't have quite the same effect on the outside world. But those brave souls who escaped (such as Ana Mardoll) did pretty well at creating similar toxic communities on twitter.