"In a Neon Sign, Scrolling Up and Down" Edition
Happy Easter from all of me at THE ZONE. I hope you’re having a wonderful time with as many of your loved ones as was possible.
Obligatory shilling. I wrote for American Conservative about how World Wrestling Entertainment won and lost its grip on professional wrestling, and, more broadly, how to resist the dynamics of economic concentration.
For Spectator USA I asked how much Europeans can blame the USA for their culture wars.
I also wrote some Easter reflections for my paying Substack subscribers, partly inspired by Adam Zagajewski’s poem “Try to Praise the Mutilated World” and partly by the many little shrines of my hometown.
A breach in the mind. Lola Salem writes an elegantly provocative and acutely entertaining essay for Athwart about the postmodern trajectory:
The soft brutality of the bourgeois state triumphs in symbiosis with this type of postmodern art. Instead of rebelling against the sheer horror, instead of toppling the gross indecency, people have merely shrugged. The statue was intended as a satirical object, implying that it would comment on society from an outsider, oblique, and “critical” point of view. Yet, the work and its author very much embody the institutional status quo and, by letting them do so, we have given them our benediction.
Britpoppers. Will Lloyd writes incisively for UnHerd about a generation of commentators who combined a cheerful cosmopolitanism with densely parochial habits of thought:
The self-image is that of the truth-teller: the bold intellect riskily crossing the lonely and treacherous frontiers of modern thought. “Countercultural” is the word he repeatedly uses, as if the ideas between the covers of Identity Ignorance Innovation are dangerous, or provocative, or fresh.
Young British anons deserve the credit for devising and developing the “Britpopper” meme. The key flaw of the type is a slavish devotion to the idea of themselves as being sensible combined with a claustrophobic presentism. That said, I disagree with Lloyd on one thing: I do think Will Self is a good novelist.
Katowice. This week I had to come to nearby Katowice on tedious Brexit-related bureaucratic business.
I am fortunate that it is merely tedious. Besides, coming to Katowice can never be an entirely bad thing. The largest city in Upper Silesia, it has a reputation as being rather grimly industrial, but, while being industrial is not in itself a bad thing unless you want to take the Ted Kaczynski pill whole, it is also more vibrant and intriguing than stereotypes suggest. Of course, it helps that summer is approaching.
Ukrainian summer. According to the Western media, Russian troops and armaments are massing on the Ukrainian border. More pro-Russian commentators are alleging that it is Ukrainian forces which have been building up. Quite possibly, both are right - and omnidirectional scepticism is required. It would be typical of the last couple of the years if the decline of the pandemic was accompanied by the outbreak of war.
Lunatic overconfidence. I love this point from Freddie deBoer:
Here’s what I suspect: mentally healthy people, if they still exist, aren’t healthy because of the constant presence of positive feelings of self. They are healthy because of the habitual absence of any feelings of self at all.
Sadly, enabling escape from the self is not as monetizable as messing with the self. It will never take off.
Deprivation of security. Glenn Greenwald describes being the victim of a home invasion:
I could not go back to the farm after that day — I wanted to — because I knew the memories would be too vivid. The deprivation of security that it imposes on your brain is intense no matter who you are, so I have zero doubt that trauma would stay with a child forever.
House of the living. Gary Saul Morson reflects on Dostoevsky:
The behavior of material objects can be fully explained by natural laws, and for materialists the same is true of people, if not yet, then in the near future. But people are not just material objects, and will do anything, no matter how self-destructive, to prove they are not.
Have a lovely week,