A civilization that speaks in smarm is a civilization that has lost its ability to talk about purposes at all. It is a civilization that says “Don’t Be Evil,” rather than making sure it does not do evil.
— On Smarm. This essay broke my brain, and made me sad. We have lost the ability to communicate.
I could be more easily convinced of the importance of nurturing the practice of female circumcision than I could be entreated to watch a single episode of American Idol, yet here we are ten years and 30,000,000 albums later and Kelly Clarkson is writhing her way through a Christmas album and pretty much every American with a stick-figure family on the back of their SUV will own a copy.
Elias Canetti: "It is only in a crowd that man can become free of this fear of being touched. That is the only situation in which the fear changes into its opposite. The crowd he needs is the dense crowd, in which body is pressed to body; a crowd, too, whose psychical constitution is also dense, or compact, so that he no longer notices who it is that presses against him. As soon as a man has surrendered himself to the crowd, he ceases to fear its touch. Ideally, all are equal there; no distinctions count, not even that of sex. The man pressed against him is the same as himself He feels him as he feels himself. Suddenly it is as though everything were happening in one and the same body. This is perhaps one of the reasons why a crowd seeks to close in on itself: it wants to rid each individual as completely as possible of the fear of being touched. The more fiercely people press together, the more certain they feel that they do not fear each other. This reversal of the fear of being touched belongs to the nature of crowds. The feeling of relief is most striking where the density of the crowd is greatest.”
Black Friday Shopping Chaos [Super Cut Compilation] (by RSVLTS) — via Laughing Squid.
We best remember Wallace, a walking dead man in our psych ward of a world, by looking past his own life and personality and looking instead at our fallen American condition with the heightened senses and iron-willed focus he did some part in helping cultivate in us. As readers and as citizens, we best honor what he argued for by growing up.