"Straddling the top of the world, one foot in Tibet and the other in Nepal, I cleared the ice from my oxygen mask, hunched a shoulder against the wind, and stared absently at the vast sweep of earth below. I understood on some dim, detached level that it was a spectacular sight. I’d been fantasizing about this moment, and the release of emotion that would accompany it, for many months. But now that I was finally here, standing on the summit of Mount Everest, I just couldn’t summon the energy to care."
~Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air
In other news, I’m defending my dissertation tomorrow.
In 2002, having spent more than three years in one residence for the first time in my life, I got called for jury duty. I show up on time, ready to serve. When we get to the voir dire, the lawyer says to me, “I see you’re an astrophysicist. What’s that?” I answer, “Astrophysics is the laws of physics, applied to the universe—the Big Bang, black holes, that sort of thing.” Then he asks, “What do you teach at Princeton?” and I say, “I teach a class on the evaluation of evidence and the relative unreliability of eyewitness testimony.” Five minutes later, I’m on the street.
A few years later, jury duty again. The judge states that the defendant is charged with possession of 1,700 milligrams of cocaine. It was found on his body, he was arrested, and he is now on trial. This time, after the Q&A is over, the judge asks us whether there are any questions we’d like to ask the court, and I say, “Yes, Your Honor. Why did you say he was in possession of 1,700 milligrams of cocaine? That equals 1.7 grams. The ‘thousand’ cancels with the ‘milli-’ and you get 1.7 grams, which is less than the weight of a dime.” Again I’m out on the street.
You know, Neil, if you’d saved your sharp observation for the deliberation room, that defendant might have joined you out on the street, instead of being left to the mercy of twelve people who don’t understand the basics of the metric system.
You always hear (educated, smart) people complain about how educated, smart people never end up on juries. That always strikes me as something akin to kids in class complaining that the teacher made it too easy to cheat on a test. It’s like hey, if you’re such a genius, maybe you should apply your intelligence to the knotty problem of how to fulfill your civic duty. Go ahead and outwit those lawyers, Neil deGrasse Tyson! Trick your way onto the next jury you’re called for, by idk, bringing a stack of US Weekly’s into the courtroom and defining your profession as “stargazer” or something.
Mulligan became disenchanted with how the film was edited and cut by airlines, particularly American and Delta Airlines, for in-flight showings. He became so disturbed by these airline edits to the picture that he insisted his name be removed from the credits of the film. These events artistically haunted Mulligan to such a degree that he retired from film-making and never directed another project, with The Man in the Moon being his last film.
Could this be the greatest overreaction in filmmaking history?
so please stop using the latter spelling in your fanart and gifs and whatnot because it looks a bit silly and is not a real word
They’ve got no shame, these Brits! None! Look at them haughtily standing by their ridiculous pronunciations like there’s nothing wrong with just tossing ‘f’s around in place of ‘ieu’s whenever they feel like it. This is the unchecked privilege of the colonial power, right here. Can you imagine what would happen if someone other than a Brit took that approach?
We Bostonians still spell it ‘Worcester.’
We just pronounce it ‘Whoostah.’ We’re not actually sneezing, it just sounds that way.
So please stop using the latter spelling in your gifs and fan art and whatnot because it looks a bit silly and it is not a real word.
I’ll tell you what would happen. The foreigners would say, “You think our good-faith attempts to phonetically interpret your lunatic wheezing make us look a bit silly? Well isn’t that precious! Also, you know what else isn’t a real word? Bubbler.”
*The foreigners in this example can’t be Brits, because this ridiculous state of affairs is all their fault. Hey kids, want a good laugh? Ask a Brit how to pronounce Cholmondeley.
EDIT: Someone anonymously told me in my ask box that this post was too mean! That makes me sad. I guess I think of the British as so comfortably ensconced in their role as authorities on our shared language that they’d hardly even notice a little bit of upstart American teasing (and I was mostly making fun of Bostonians, anyway) but truly, I did not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings and I’m sorry if I did.
I’m reading Kate Zambreno’s Heroines. It’s a strange book, inexplicably designed with a hideous elementary-school style collage of Modernist Wives on the cover. It’s put out by semiotext(e), which also published Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick, which I read last year and unexpectedly loved. Both books make me happy because of they are both about & by miserable academics but they are unapologetic in the way they romanticize a French-style academia full of people in black turtlenecks and dark red lipstick who talk about literary theory in bars and smoke cigarettes and have raucous sex with other academics. It’s such a stark contrast to the gritty, pragmatic, economically depressed self-presentation that shows up in, say, The Chronicle of Higher Education or my job colloquium.
Which on the one hand, I get, obviously, since romanticizing your poverty-stricken existence doesn’t exactly gain you any political traction, or help you get your monograph published. And the pretensions of this kind of writing are easy to puncture, Zambreno more than Kraus, because she’s not funny, and not really trying to be. She constantly refers to Vivienne Eliot as “Vivien(ne)” and has no shame about linking her own “irritable bowel…raging periods… [and] howling headaches” to the intestinal troubles of everyone from Madame Bovary to Zelda Fitzgerald.
But I can’t help but like her, because part of me thinks we’ve earned the right to some self-mythologizing, and I wish we did more of it, even though I understand why we don’t. If we are going to eke out adjuncting wages and squander our fertility and live in ugly apartments and get no respect from anyone, we may as well shamelessly cloak ourselves in melodramatic literary signifiers as we starve. It’s all we have going for us, really.
Here is Zambreno on her shitty apartment in Ohio:
"We live in a squat Victorian building near the university…Backyards littered with all the paraphernalia of childhood, as Esther Greenwood observes with a shudder in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. Children with their shattering screams. Vivien(ne)’s line added to ‘TheWaste Land,’ should be delivered in your best imitation Cockney screech: What you get married for if you don’t want children.”
From now on, I’m going to cloak every base anxiety I have in a mantle of literary references, and I’m going to make it look good. When my qualifications are called into question or I feel dissed by someone else, I’m not going to cry or complain about it; I’m going to go on the intellectual attack, then press my hand to my pale forehead and swan away to write about it in my journal.
"I am told, rather abruptly by the head of the English Department here, that I am not qualified to teach literature. Male professors with no interest in the subject teach women’s literature instead. I am reminded of my lack of a terminal degree. (Why does the idea always feel like a death?)"
Why indeed? I know that it sounds like I’m making fun of Zambreno here (and I am, a little) but I actually do believe we might as well romanticize our petty little rejections and anxieties and fears if we’re actually going to accord them this much space in our heads, and that creating a lineage of artistic, meaningful suffering that ends in us is quite a comforting thing to do. Reading Thomas Benton articles about How Everything Is Terrible and Next Semester Every Class at Berkeley Will be Taught By Robots make it hard to get out of bed in the morning, but reading Zambreno, I start to feel again like the academic enterprise does have a kind of faded glamour, not just despite but because of the fact that it’s doomed.
It’s not like anything we do really matters, so why not frame our struggles with a little bit of style? Zambreno might not have tenure, but she’s got style in spades, and I like that. Plus, undergraduates love sexy, over-intellectualized depression - it’s the classic undergraduate pose - so maybe if we all start romanticizing our struggles a little more in class, we’ll stem the hemorrhaging away from the major and reclaim one or two kids who might otherwise have studied business communications.
I got glasses today, big thick ones with dark plastic frames. They were the cheapest ones in the store and the prescription isn’t very strong, but I can see people’s facial expressions coming from far away, which is disconcerting. I’ve been tripping a lot. But when you read this, do your best to picture me as a striking, melancholic woman in a black wool turtleneck, who bites the arm of her glasses thoughtfully as she taps out a line or two of her dissertation and sips another class of cheap red wine. Or like this - you could picture me like this, even without the glasses:
See? Doesn’t everything seem a little bit better now?
dylan thomas miley cyrus the worst of both worlds (also for the teacher & hey teachers if i can at all augment classroom stuff get at me cos the only thing i care abt—truly—is teaching people abt poetry!!!)
Listen to this for ten seconds, I dare you, and try to keep that baffled but giddy grin off your face.
“'Well, when I am fifty-three or so I would like to write a novel as good as Persuasion, but with a modern setting, of course. For the next thirty years or so I shall be collecting material for it. If anyone asks me what I work at, I shall say, 'Collecting material'. No one can object to that. Besides, so I shall be.'”—
Don't believe everything on the Internet. Most people have not left the comfort of Wikipedia and yahoo answers, which are not credible sources. The information is based upon what is most popular belief, and not what is necessarily fact. Swahili people of east Africa have vey many dialects, and no written language or history. Latin and Arabic are very recent a tempts to translate, but they had universal symbols to communicate. The symbol you have certainly has meaning. It means 'no worries'.
Well, since you give me the good advice to not trust anything on the internet, do you maybe have a source for that?
It’s 12:30 on a Saturday night and Schuyler’s in New York so what else would I be doing but reading years-old Metafilter threads about the way people in other cultures express the sentiment that’s the way the cookie crumbles?
And this one made me laugh out loud:
In a recent speech, Iran’s president Ahmadinejad used an (apparently slightly vulgar) phrase that translates to “the bogeyman snatched the boob.” According to a piece I heard on NPR, the phrase is used by mothers weaning their children, and has come to have the general meaning that while something good was lost or stolen, one should just suck it up and deal with it.
I honestly cannot tell you how much it pleases me to imagine an Iranian mother snatching her breast away from her nursing child and shouting grumpily,”No! The bogeyman has snatched the boob!” Or maybe she says it sort of fake-sympathetically, like “Ohhh, honey, I’m so sorry, I know you are hungry, but the bogeyman has snatched the boob.” And then when the child tearfully confronts her about this transparent but disturbing lie (I’m imagining the kid is like 3 in this scenario) she takes him on her knee, clears her throat, looks him in the eye, and dispenses this age old wisdom: “My son, I see you are upset, but when something good is lost or stolen, one must just suck it up and deal with it.”
It’s the ‘You get what you get, and you don’t get upset,’ of terrifying Iranian mothers. Definitely filing this expression away in case I ever have children.
This is frustrating. I wish he had just left out the part about “My book is not successful because I am male” rather than make such a shallow jab at explaining it away, especially to an audience of mostly teenagers who are mostly just figuring out how privilege works. Because parts of this are really misguided.
First off, “I was also male when I wrote my other novels, which were not as successful,” is a flat-out bad and borderline disingenuous argument. Are you kidding? Most men are not successful at becoming President, and many run several times before they get elected, but that doesn’t mean that being a man isn’t a big advantage when it comes to becoming the President. So why even point this out?
More importantly, he writes (still in the paragraph about how his maleness isn’t the reason his book is so successful):
"The other breakout non-series, realistic children’s titles of 2012 were Wonder and Out of My Mind, both written by women…
The truth is, no YA novel has ever been chosen as the best fiction book of the year by TIME Magazine**, or appeared on so many adult-oriented best-of-the-year lists (Entertainment Weekly, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, etc.). Did this happen because TFiOS is the best YA book ever? No. It means that someone got a bunch of adult literary critics to read a YA novel that those adult literary critics really liked.This someone is named Elyse Marshall.
Right. Exactly. And so, if you want to talk about sexism and publishing (Which you don’t have to! This was your choice! You brought it up!) the question to ask is: why was it The Fault in Our Stars and not Wonder or Out of my Mind — or any of the other books that Elyse Marshall publicizes (some of which, surely, are written by women) that was sent out to literary critics (who many people suspect are biased towards reviewing serious books by men), and in turn read and enjoyed and promoted by those critics, resulting in the book’s appearance on a million top ten lists and unprecedented crossover success?
YA is a historically female-dominated industry that has long had trouble being taken seriously by mainstream literary critics. Is it just a coincidence that one of its first truly extraordinary breakout literary successes (not about wizards) was written by a man? Or might that fact have something to do with the inherent biases and assumptions of the (well-meaning, hard-working) people involved at every stage of the process?
I honestly do not know the answers to those questions! Obviously, The Fault in Our Stars has merit. I’m not denying that. I loved it! It was a great book! But the question is, “Why that book and not another?” And if you’re going to admit, reasonably, that The Fault in Our Stars is not the greatest YA book ever written, then shrugging your shoulders and saying, “Well, I dunno, a bunch of really incredible people just conspired to promote and help my book along its way, and at all the key moments, everyone came together to move it further and further up to ladder to mind-blowing success, but this obviously has nothing to do with my gender…” is just - argh! Don’t do that! Don’t raise the subject of sexism just to dismiss it! That’s so stupid and unnecessary!
I know it must be frustrating, as a male author, to always feel like people are side-eying your success, and surely some of the critiques he gets are rooted in envy more than anything else. But how hard would it have been for him to include his maleness (and his whiteness and his cis-ness and his status as a native English speaker, all of which he rightly and thoughtfully points out) in the second section rather than the first? That is, to say, ‘Yes, The Fault in Our Stars was massively successful for all these good reasons, but also - maybe, possibly -a little bit more successful because I have these structural advantages, which is not to denigrate my work but simply to acknowledge this as a factor which may have eased it along its path.’
I don’t know; maybe I’m overthinking this. But I always find it disheartening when people who are sharp enough to acknowledge their privilege feel the need to follow up by immediately explaining it all away.
The Fault in Our Stars is my fourth (4.5th?) novel, and it has found a very wide readership. I often get questions asking what my secret is, or why the book has been successful, and then of course there are also lots of people out there speculating about the reasons for the book’s success.
Re: [Prairie Schooner] Submission: The Dim Shapes Get Clearer Every Day.
Although we have decided against using “The Dim Shapes Get Clearer Every Day,” we were interested in it and would be glad to see more of your work between Sept. 1 and May 1.
Before this one came in, I also got two other flat rejections via old-school SASE’s, one from Noon and one from Agni, so I don’t want you to think I only post the ‘good’ rejections. So far, I have never followed up one of these encouraging let-downs with more work, which I know is unprofessional, but it’s mostly because the story I sent them is the only one I have like it. What am I going to do, follow up my gothic imitation-Gilman ghost story with my YA-targeted humorous essay about phone sex? That just seems confusing.
I know I’ve made jokes about the intern reading the slush pile before, but having received a fair number of these nicer rejections (check out that humblebrag) and having also followed up with a handful, I am pretty confident they indicate that the submission made it past the first (intern-y) round of readers and was then sent up to an editor, who spent four or five months not reading it before passing on it via a nicer note that’s mostly meant to make up for the extra time you spent waiting to hear back.
That said, I will never stop imagining the staff at these magazines sitting around the table and passionately discussing my story every week for months on end, loudly arguing its merits and flaws as they pit it against the only other contender, a lost Hemingway short story that was recently unearthed from the archives. In the end, it’s 3 am; they’re exhausted and the deadline is the next day. In the dim and smoky room, they put it to a vote, and the Hemingway story wins by one tentatively raised hand. The idealistic young editor who championed my story from the beginning bursts into tears and runs out of the room. She is followed into the hallway by the experienced editor-in-chief, who lays his hand heavily on her shoulder. You made a good case in there, Millie, he tells her. But it's a rigged game, always has been. Still, good work gets read eventually. It may take months, it may take years, but someday, this story will find the audience it deserves. You have to believe that. Otherwise, what’s the point in any of it? She sniffs and nods, wiping her tears away with the back of her hand. I do believe it, she says, I do. Then she bravely walks back to her office, opens up her email, and begins typing, wincing a little at the understatement: Dear Kristen, Although we have decided against using The Dim Shapes Get Clearer Every Day…
Recently Kumail Nanjiani tweeted that the best Star Trek film was Galaxy Quest. I laughed at that because it’s a funny joke, but after having seen Star Trek: Into Darkness I enthusiastically agree with Kumail.
I don’t want to give you nightmares, but I feel like there’s something really…
Joshua Rothman on “the impossible decision” of whether or not to go to graduate school, and tough decisions in general: “There are too many unknowns…It’s too unclear what happiness is…These bigger mysteries make the grad-school decision harder.” http://nyr.kr/10x9uqf
“If I’m lucky, I know that during every unfolding tragedy in the future, I’ll probably be identified more with the journalists than the victims. But I’ll still think of the woman who’s shaking and sweating 3,000 miles away from her sister and parents, who were almost certainly close enough to see and hear the violence but haven’t texted back yet. And I’ll probably hold my tweets.”—
On the flip side of this - I heard about the Marathon bombings minutes after they happened, when my sister, a CNN producer in New York, posted to social media asking me - and the rest of my Boston-based family - if we were ok. My phone wasn’t on because I was in the library, but I saw her Facebook post immediately. I told my friend, who was sitting next to me in the library and whose brother was running the marathon (he had already finished, and was safe.) Both of us got through to our families and checked in with them before any of the mainstream media producers had gotten a story out, and before the phones were clogged up by people calling back and forth. My parents both knew I was ok before they’d even heard about the attacks. In other words, for us, social media meant that we got the news that was relevant to us (that our friends and family were safe) before we heard anything else.
In contrast, when my sister and I were in New York on September 11, I was in class and heard about it on the radio, of all things. It took almost an hour to get through to my parents - and through them, to get news about my sister. That hour was a nightmare, and it was made worse by the fact that our only source of information was the unidirectional flow of terrifying information from the TV in the common room. My memory might be wrong about this, but I swear in those first few hours, the TV news was full of as much misinformation as Twitter was after the Marathon, but there was no way to verify it or to check competing sources. I have a particular memory of being briefly under the impression that bombs were falling on Washington DC- (I think the result of some confusion about rumors that flight 93 had been shot down over Pennsylvania by fighter jets, the news about the Pentagon, and repeated use of the phrase “America is under attack.”) Once I got the news from my family, I turned the TV off and never really turned it back on again to get news about the events, because just that one hour had been so overwhelming.
In other words, I’m not disputing anything that was written here, but for me, the ability to have some control of the firehose of information via social media and alternative news outlets was well worth the (possibly) larger amount of speculation that took place on those platforms.
So I read your piece in the Awl....what happens when you come back to Cambridge and the thrill of your Canadian trip fades? What value does an experience like what you described really have?
You know, when I first submitted that essay to the Awl, my biggest fear was that someone (in the worst case scenario, a future employer) might skim over it and not realize it was satire.
Luckily, the editors filed the essay under the category “It didn’t happen to me,” repeated that phrase on the photo of Laura Dern (who is not me), added another the tag “That did not happen,” to the bottom of the essay, and, as a final clue allowed me to to use, in lieu of an author bio, the phrase “Kristen Roupenian has never set foot in Calgary.”
I thought that would take care of the problem.
However, it did not. This is not the first of these messages I have received.
So, let me state for the record:
I was 30 years old in 2011.
My hair is not bleached blond by the sun. (I wish!)
I do not weigh 122 pounds. (No comment.)
I have never had a job at an arts non-profit.
I do not have a cat.
I do not have a devoted boyfriend named Brian.
I have never road-tripped through Canada. The only time I have been to Vancouver is for a conference.
I have never done any of the drugs described in that essay. I had to look up what “the black stuff” meant on the internet.
I have never met anyone named Milo. I got the name from the main character in the Phantom Tollbooth, and I chose it because it is vastly amusing for me to imagine little Milo as a washed-up bassist pimp hitchhiking his way through Canada.
The entire essay is made of lies.
The essay is a parody of lots of other essays on the internet, including this one on The Hairpin and the work of the incomparable Cat Marnell.
I understand that this will probably not seem funny to you, and I apologize.
Like many other publications, we wanted to create a place for millennials to write important, groundbreaking things about their generation. Here’s one report from the front lines.
The first time I saw Milo was at a truck stop in Vancouver. He was angling for the same ride I was, his cut-off shorts hiked up high over one perfect golden thigh, his shaggy, unkempt hair hiding eyes the color of sea glass and broken bottles. Watching him, I knew that everyone around me—from the burnt out, 30-something waitress slinging hash in the run-down diner to the horny long-distance truckers cracked out on Benzedrines in the lot—they were all thinking the same thing I was: that boy is fucking beautiful.
It was mid-2011 and that year I was a wreck: 23, restless, eternally hungover, my mousy hair scorched newly blonde by the sun. Exhausted from the never-ending project of being a good girl my parents could be proud of, I’d recently embarked on the process of comprehensively burning my life down to its foundations. I was hungry for something realer than the cloistered little life I’d led: I wanted to bruise myself, to dance naked in fountains at midnight, to breathe deep and inhale the glittering stench of the stars. So I quit my internship at the arts nonprofit, dropped out of my long-distance MFA program, and broke up with Bryan, my devoted boyfriend who wanted nothing more than to marry me and raise my children. Then I emptied my bank account down to the last dollar so that I could spend six weeks hitchhiking across Canada. My friends thought I’d lost my mind; my parents threatened to stop helping me pay the rent on my walkup unless I got my affairs in order, and Bryan was texting me every day, sometimes every hour: are u sure ur okay, why canada, I think we shd talk this over, who is in charge of feeding the cat, is it your roommate bc Im kind of afraid she’ll forget. I felt burdened by the weight of all their worry, but I couldn’t travel fast enough, or far enough, to leave the voices in my head behind…
Pairs I had in the 90s: 1, 7, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 22
Pairs I’d buy if I came across them in a shoe store today, for the nostalgia value, but legitimating thinking they’d be cool: 7, 13, 17, 18, 20
Pairs I would have bought if I’d come across them in a shoe store yesterday, not because of their nostalgia value but because I legitimately had not realized that shoe trends had moved on: 1, 9, 14, 15, 16.
Seriously, they just look like normal shoes to me.
“People are beginning to rebel against the ways in which we’ve increased our dependence on corporations to provide for us. The food movement has its problems, and its struggles will probably increase. But it offers people so much. Fighting for environmental causes can be really discouraging. The food movement offers pleasure in the fight. It’s one of those rare instances where the right choice is usually the more pleasurable choice, where you can align your ethics and your hedonism. Tell me: where else in life do you get to do that?”—
Only, it seems to me that this is actually a very common situation. The aesthetically pleasurable & environmentally sustainable align more often than not: turning beautiful swathes of seaside or forest into nature preserves that can only be accessed via [expensive] permit, spending top dollar on gorgeous and impeccably sourced goods from the local artist in your hometown. The missing piece in the equation is economics: people don’t eat at McDonald’s instead of Chez Panisse because they have bad taste.I know Pollan knows this, but the glib equation of hedonism and activism among less thoughtful foodies has tainted the whole movement with a smugness that this quotation does nothing to shake.
"Will is everything. Desire is everything. In this activity and in life. One must want, and want so greatly, that every sort of impediment is only another occasion for the determination of the student to seek its solution, and in such solutions finding new prospects for problems further on. Everything wants your failure. The body that you inhabit, the time that is yours, the circumstances of your life, every particularity that can be summoned to the general spectacle of your enterprise through space and time, can be seen as an interference to doing great art - nothing more efficiently than the mortality that is your due. And to exert ceaselessly in the face of such circumstances is to require an exorbitant desire. One must want so greatly that every reason to succumb is dismissed…
• About 48 percent of employed U.S. college graduates are in jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests requires less than a four-year college education. Eleven percent of employed college graduates are in occupations requiring more than a high-school diploma but less than a bachelor’s, and 37 percent are in occupations requiring no more than a high-school diploma;
• The proportion of overeducated workers in occupations appears to have grown substantially; in 1970,fewer than one percent of taxi drivers and two percent of firefighters had college degrees,while now more than 15 percent do in both jobs;
• About five million college graduates are in jobs the BLS says require less than a high-school education;
Later this month, this show will premiere on CBS:
From reality show masters Michael Davies (“Who Wants to be A Millionaire,” “Watch What Happens Live”) and Mark Burnett (“Survivor”, “The Voice”), the series gives candidates selected from around the country a chance to win positions at some of America’s most prestigious companies. Hosted by Emmy Award nominee Lisa Ling (“The View”), each episode will feature five candidates participating in several rounds of elimination challenges before a panel of executives as they compete for their dream job.
Unemployment: The TV Show.
This is some Hunger Games-level shit, right here.
So here’s your choice, youth of America: you can sweat and study and go into debt, bankrupting both your parents and yourselves in a desperate fight to secure a ‘dream job’ that will probably never materialize,
Or, you can go on television and go through the hollow motions of playing the game, knowing all the while that the outcome has been determined beforehand, your actual worth means nothing, and this whole shebang is just a charade rigged by the same one-percenters who most vocally propagate the meritocratic myth that props up their stranglehold on social, political and economic power.