Wisdom

May 29, 2010

“I think that one of our most important tasks is to convince others that there’s nothing to fear in difference; that difference, in fact, is one of the healthiest and most invigorating of human characteristics without which life would become meaningless. Here lies the power of the liberal way: not in making the whole world Unitarian [Universalist], but in helping ourselves and others to see some of the possibilities inherent in viewpoints other than one’s own; in encouraging the free interchange of ideas; in welcoming fresh approaches to the problems of life; in urging the fullest, most vigorous use of critical self-examination.”

Adlai Stevenson

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* This is the more self-indulgent version of a blog I’ve written for The Splinter Generation.  For the more professional version, click the link in my fun little blogroll over there –>

A week or so ago, glutted on Easter dinner and dulled with wine, I sprawled with my cousin on his fancy leather couch and drifted in and out of consciousness while, on the television, Tom Hanks, awash in deep red alert lights, scurried up a bookcase in the Vatican library to save himself from certain death.  Yes, we were watching Angels and Demons. No, we weren’t proud of it.  But, you see, the remote was so far out of reach, and we were so very mired in a hammy, wine-dyed stupor.

Besides, even had I been sober, I wouldn’t have cared.  Honestly, who hasn’t had enough of Tom Hanks?

I’ve never really been a part of the Dan Brown phenomenon.  I approached it (or avoided it) with the same curious caution I bring to anything that achieves mass popularity – I do not typically take part, but I stand back and consider why others do.  I’m disinterested in the actual thing (the book, the movie, the singer), as it’s often rather dull and unchallenging, but am endlessly fascinated by its popularity, and convinced that something interesting can be gleaned from an analysis of it.

Forgive me – I’m an essayist.  It’s my job to pause upon the mundane, ruminate, then make something up and hope it gets me girls.  You should have seen me during the Britney Spears era.

So I’m watching Tom Hanks prowl around on screen, and my cousin asks the obvious, but powerful question: “What the hell do people see in this [stuff]?”  It’s a good question.  As much of a lit-snob as I can be – I can’t deny that Dan Brown has caught on to something.  Nearly everyone I know, from the cognoscenti to the dope-patrol has read at least one Dan Brown novel – or at least they gave it an earnest try.

What does Dan Brown do that makes people like him so much?  More importantly, what the hell does this have to do with The Splinter Generation?

Well, for one – I believe Robert Langdon (the Tom Hanks character) to be a stunning example of the Hipster pinup-girl.  He’s the master of the esoteric – a symbologist.  A character who knows absolutely everything about subjects we’ve never even heard of.   He can (and often does) namedrop obscure figures and events of history in casual conversation.  He’s a character whose importance and popularity are directly proportional to how exhaustively pedantic he can be.  Robert Langdon is an action hero in rumpled corduroy.  I can’t tell you how many people I know who try for this.

More importantly, though – what I find most interesting about Dan Brown’s success, is that it seems to connect to a larger trend in popular entertainment.

Dan Brown is writing about the interconnection of things.  In the silly worlds of his literature, history is not just some pile of dusty corpses and yellowed pages.  It is instead a trail of breadcrumbs leading to something of unquestionably melodramatic importance (the supposed war between faith and science, for example – or an attempted abduction of Christ’s pouty progeny).  History isn’t about the past, according to Dan Brown – it’s about the present.  It’s everywhere – in every painting and sculpture – in architecture – in religion.  We are all caught and tangled in its web, and it is only our illusion that we exist beyond it.  Brown’s Langdon suggests to us that if we look closely at the symbols, we can see how interconnected all things actually are.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that he’s A. doing this on purpose, or B. is any good at it (for further evidence on this, I direct you here).  But Langdon has been whispering in my ear since Easter… and I can’t help but see a bit of what he’s talking about.

I think it’s safe to say that over the last decade, our society, in its fervent attempt to digitize absolutely everything on the planet, has grown more and more remote.  This is the central irony of the internet generation – we’re all so connected, that we’re disconnected.  And yet when I stop to consider the stories we’ve told over the last decade, a large number of them a seem to hinge on the contrary.

Babel, 21 Grams, Black and White, Crash, Magnolia, Signs – each of these movies has spoken to some general sense of interconnection.  They suggest to us, like Langdon does, that our disconnection, our remoteness, is merely an illusion.  That beneath every choice, every turn, there is an unbreakable causal web.

I see these symbols everywhere – even in crappy disaster movies – which ever since Independence Day (which, I acknowledge, came out prior to the last decade), have revolved around disparate groups of people, brought together by calamity.

Everywhere I turn, I see interconnection.  So why do I still feel so disconnected?

If my observations are correct, they lead me to a more serious set of questions:

Are these stories we’re telling an attempt to ferret out the truth?  Are they a capitulation to Langdon’s condescending, yet hopeful lectures? Or might they be darker than that – a prolonged period of creative mourning for what we’ve lost?  A facsimile of something that once was, but no longer is – like a viewing for a deceased relative?

Are we telling these stories of interconnection because we are, in fact interconnected?  Or are we trying to convince ourselves that we still are, when deep down we know we’re not?

A New Beginning

April 7, 2010

I’ve made the jump to WordPress.  Somehow I managed to figure out how to import all of my old files AND set up my new blog with a stunningly dreary, babyshit-colored theme!

Calling all graphic designer friends – help me make this page not suck!  I’d love to have it look really nice and fancy… only I have no idea what that would look like.  I’m a staggeringly uncreative person when it comes to visual media.

Do this for both of us.  Help me make the sassiest blog ever.

Welcome to the new EBWY, ladies and gentlemen.

PS: It’s too fucking hot out.

Change

April 6, 2010

A few years ago, back when I was living at home with my dad, I discovered the first hard piece of evidence for my stupidity.  The following anecdote is true:

When I was 25 or 26, I would stay out all night at a diner, either doing work alone, or drinking coffee with my friends.  By this point, the number of friends had dwindled considerably.  P. had put down roots in DC long before – S. was up in Central Jersey, living with C.  My girlfriend at the time wasn't much for sitting up all night, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.  And so I would often head out alone, typing out my final manuscript for my MA program in the same booth of the same cheesy diner I'd haunted back in high school, pausing occasionally to converse with the other spooky nightowls who twiched and roosted while everyone else was asleep.  I had become a regular – I had my usual booth – the waitstaff knew what I wanted before I even asked for it.  Some might see the tradition of this as refreshing.  Not many, probably… but some.  Most, I'd assume, probably see it as a fair shade of depressing.  But still – I was working on a Master's program.  The first of two.  So eat it.

Like I said, I'd stay up all night drinking coffee.  Rarely did I eat, as the food at this diner was both overpriced and repulsive.  And so when I'd return home at around 2 or 3 in the morning… I'd pad around in the dark and the dozy quiet – all jerks and jitters from the caffeine – with a terrible pang for some form of sustenance. 

At this point in my life… I was still rather svelte.  Or, if not svelte, I was at least not pudgy like I am now.  I'm not overweight – hardly – but now that I'm nearly 29 (dear God), I'm fully capable of growing a might… fluffy… should I not watch what I eat.  I tend to gain and lose weight in my face… which is terribly disconcerting, as I've wanted my face to be gaunt and horselike ever since I saw Michael Wincott as the Guy of Gisborne in the crappy, 90s Robin Hood movie.  You know… the one where Kevin Costner attempts a British accent for all of three seconds, before he just throws in the gauntlet and returns to his typical yogurty drawl?  Yeah, that one.  I wanted to be the gravel-voiced guy who gets a sword in the belly from his prissy albeit wonderfully charming cousin (Alan Rickman is really wonderful in any role, isn't he?).

Sometimes I'd heat up some soup… or chop myself a salad.  But that level of preparation is downright torturous at 3 in the morning – to say nothing of the inherent danger of handling a blade or flame when your body chemistry is awash with enough caffeine to power a Christmas tree.  More often than not, after all those cups of bitter, burnt coffee… I'd want something a little sweet.  So I'd head into my father's cupboard and pull out the Nutella.  I'd scoop out a healthy dollop, spread it atop a slice of white bread (yup – bleached, processed flour), and roll the concoction up into a creamy, cancerous tube.

I ate this every night, more or less, for a year.  That's how long it took me to realize that I was able to gain weight.

Call me stupid – because, admittedly, I am stupid – but I didn't realize that Nutella was unhealthy for you.  "Nuts!" I'd say, "nuts are nutritious!  It's not chocolate… it's hazelnut.  I'm fine."

And then I expanded.

Like I said, I never really got fat.  Just plump.  A little round.  Doughy.  Which would be fine if my frame could handle it… but since my skeletal structure is more feminine than masculine (narrow, slight, dainty), and so I wound up looking like a wad of chewed gum in jeans.

Eventually it dawned on me that I was getting chubby.  I couldn't ignore it any longer.  I jumped from the standard 150b. I'd been since college to 180.  My max was 190… but not for that long.  I've since melted that down to the unstable 165-175 spectrum in which I currently reside.  I can gain and lose five to ten pounds in a day.

I eat a lot of salt, you see.

So why am I telling you this?  Well… because I've been thinking about the choice I made to stop eating Nutella.  I haven't had it in years.  Once I realized that my chubbiness was a direct result of my nightly butter tube… I swore off the stuff, and haven't looked back.  I still love Nutella – or, rather, I think I do… as I can't really remember the taste anymore – but I refuse to eat it.  I made a decision to stop eating something so bad for me (honestly, how I ever could have thought that it wouldn't make me fat is entirely beyond me), and have stuck to it… despite my notoriously terrible will power.

I chose to abstain.  And I haven't gone back on it.

How I wish I could bring that level of will to the other things in my life I so desperately need to address.

I am lazy.  I am terribly lazy.  Evilly, cruelly, diabolically lazy.

Tonight, J. informed me that if I would only focus on achieving something… I would topple the whole world.  "You'd overthrow the government!" she said – or something to that effect.  I've heard this speech my whole life.  "Andrew, if you'd only focus!" was the mantra I'd heard from parents, teachers, a girlfriend (as opposed to the other, who routinely reminded me of how pedestrian my abilities were… a charming lady, she).  It got so that I had actually grown to be proud of my unrealized potential.  I managed to perfect a languorous swagger – a pride in nonaccomplishment.  I was Casey on the couch.  That job's too high.  That test's too low.

A few years ago, I realized that this isn't charming.  It's… in a word… annoying.  In a few more: immature, entitled, decadent… pathetic.

I'm nearly 30 years old, and I haven't really accomplished anything.  Not because I've failed… but because I've never even bothered to try.  I'm sure that if I psychoanalyzed myself – something I'm actually very good at… though due more to my self-obsession, rather than my intellect – I could assign some convenient excuse to it all.  I don't try because I'm afraid of failure.  Or I don't try because I grew up having things handed to me, rather than ever having to work for what I wanted.  I'm sure that all of these things are true.  But I'm too much of a Republican (only a little bit – don't worry everyone – I'm not an asshole) to not accept personal responsibility here.

It's about choice.  I've chosen not to.  At least… I think so.

But then I think of the Nutella… and the problem seems all the more terrifying.  My laziness is a problem – it's a slow, glomming uselessness that I clearly need to shake.  But I solved my Nutella problem by abstaining.  I chose not to do something – not to roll up a palm-sized wad of pure fat in a sheet of toxic carbohydrates.  To try for something is a different effort all together.  I'm forced to abstain from abstaining. 

I have to try to try.  And I'm not sure I know how.

How does one animate themselves when their life has been spent personifying inertia?  Science tells me that I must be acted upon by an opposing force.  I need to fail, maybe.  Or I need to go broke.

I think of this… and I go back to the Nutella again.  I didn't have to grow obese to stop eating it.  I just needed to wake up and make a choice.  I had to look in the mirror and see my b
elly… the furry beach ball it was… and decide that I wanted to look different.  And that was enough for me.

Choice is a force from within.  And that's what I need.  I need to choose. 

I need to look in the mirror now, I think.  I need to challenge myself to be.  To be anything.  To try.

And so I will.  I'm going to try.

But before I do… I need a snack.

I'm going to go make myself a salad.

I'd include a link to it on this blog – but I'm stupid and I don't know how to set it up.  So here's a link:

Spork!

“Angst”

February 22, 2010

"As humans we spend our time seeking big, meaningful
experiences.  So the afterlife may
surprise you when your body wears out. 
We expand back into what we really are – which is, by Earth standards,
enormous.  We stand ten thousand
kilometers tall in each of nine dimensions and live with others like us in a
celestial commune.  When we reawaken in
these, our true bodies, we immediately begin to notice that our gargantuan
colleagues suffer a deep sense of angst.

Our job is the maintenance and upholding of the cosmos.  Universal collapse is imminent, and we
engineer wormholes to act as structural support.  We labor relentlessly on the edge of cosmic
disaster.  If we don’t execute our jobs
flawlessly, the universe will re-collapse. 
Ours is complex, intricate, and important work.

After three centuries of this toil, we have the option to
take a vacation.  We all choose the same
destination: we project ourselves into lower-dimensional creatures.  We project ourselves into the tiny, delicate,
three-dimensional bodies that we call humans, and we are born into the resort
we call Earth.  The idea, on such
vacations, is to capture small experiences. 
On the Earth, we care only about our immediate surroundings.  We watch comedy movies.  We drink alcohol and enjoy music.  We form relationships, fight, break up, and
start again.  When we’re in a human body,
we don’t care about universal collapse – instead, we care only about a meeting
of the eyes, a glimpse of bare flesh, the caressing tones of a loved voice,
joy, love, light, the orientation of a house plant, the shade of a paint
stroke, the arrangement of hair.

Those are good vacations that we take on Earth, replete with
our little dramas and fusses.  The mental
relaxation is unspeakably precious to us. 
And when we’re forced to leave by the wearing out of those delicate
little bodies, it is not uncommon to see us lying prostrate in the breeze of
the solar winds, tools in hand, looking out into the cosmos, wet-eyed,
searching for meaninglessness."

 - David Eagleman

Hamlet, Literally…

December 31, 2009

**This is the review I wrote for the Collingswood Shakespeare Company's newsletter.  It's my first review!  And you have absolutely no idea how hard it was for me to write with a word-limit.  Sweet Christmas it was agony not to play in this play's quanta…***

Hamlet, Literally… 

      On
the surface, Michael Grandage’s recent production of Hamlet
has everything a theatergoer could hope for.  It’s a reasonably
well-acted, well-staged production – exciting and tragic in all the
right places.  Jude Law is in it, and he’s still preposterously
handsome (even at 38, he still looks like a Grecian statue, sprung from
its plinth).  But the sleek surface of Grandage’s production
comes at considerable cost to the subtext.  In fact, there is no
subtext.  For a play whose complexity captures the very chaos and
unknowing that make up human drama, the production is ironically predictable. 
Everyone’s in black.  Even Gertrude (who still insists, in spite
of this, that Hamlet cast off his “nighted colour”). “Denmark
is a prison,” Hamlet moans.  And he’s right.  Elsinore
looks to have been constructed entirely out of slabs of slate. 
The lighting is an unrelenting pall of wintery blues and silvers. 

      I’ve
heard it said that Grandage’s intention was to avail his play to everyone
– scholars and neophytes alike.  But while sitting in my seat,
I couldn’t help but think: Cliffs Notes.  Shakespeare’s
characters play out more like caricatures under Grandage’s direction. 
Law’s titular prince telegraphs nearly every line, flailing his arms
about in literal pantomime (he actually walks like an ape when talking
about an ape at one point), as though he’d studied acting directly
under Marcel Marceau.  The supporting characters are engulfed in
Grandage’s shallow literalism as well; Peter Eyre’s ghost is straight
out of a Halloween store.  He’s a ghoooost.  Each step he
takes on stage is but a part of a greater, languid, ectoplasmic sway
– he moves like a glob of sap oozing down a tree.  He warbles
his lines to a horrified Hamlet as he wafts his arms about his head…
ghostily.   The whole of his performance a turgid, bordering
on silly spookery.

      But
in spite of all of this, I can’t say that Grandage’s production
is bad.  Law is exciting and powerful at times.  The play
itself is well-realized – it’s just simplistic.  It’s a production
that focuses on realizing the plot, rather than the characters, and
certainly the subtext.  Don’t go expecting to see the production
explore the intensely political or philosophical elements of Shakespeare’s
masterpiece.  Don’t go expecting to see something new, really. 
That’ll have to wait for another director.  But hey, you could
still go to see Jude Law walk like an ape.  I had never seen that
before, that’s for certain.

Nothing Comes from Nothing

December 31, 2009

So for starters… it's been a while.  Sorry.  I'd say I've been busy writing other things… but that would be a lie.  I've been busy reading student essays and trying to gnaw through my wrists.  But now I'm done – for a time anyway – and my brain is starting to smoke again.

So why not bitch about entertainment?

Everyone's simply effervescent over Cameron's "Avatar."  They're all busting to talk about it.  Busting!  Trust me… just mention the movie to them and they'll regale you for hours about how "intense" it was.  Well I've seen "Avatar."  I've seen "Avatar" and I've got something to say to all of you:

You're wrong.

This movie isn't "intense."  It's the opposite of intense.  It's untense.  It's vapor.

I think it's fitting that Cameron spent millions upon millions of dollars to strip every last fleck of human presence from this film, in order to replace it with imaginary computer sprites… because this movie is absolutely devoid of any humanity.  It's the Gobi fucking desert.

I'll give Cameron this – it's the perfect blend of subject and medium – nothing for nothing.

Let's get started, shall we?

**I think it's important to mention this before I begin:  I didn't see it in the theater.  I didn't see it in 3D.  I saw it on a laptop.  Now I know what you're going to say – watching a movie like "Avatar" on a laptop is akin to saying that I've seen Michelangelo's "David" because I've got a novelty refrigerator magnet modeled after it.  Fair point.  I acknowledge that Cameron did, indeed, intend for this movie to be seen a certain way – and that until I've seen it in this way, I can't have a fully-formed, solid position on the movie.  But this, if you'll forgive me for being a little semantic, is a question of form rather than function.  Yes, it's a different experience in the theater – one which I will eventually pay for.  But my problems with Cameron's movie – and indeed every other movie that he emulates (I'd say "rips off" but the guy made no secret of it) – transcend the graphics.  The movie purports to make a statement… it tries to "teach" us something… and in doing so it holds itself to a higher level of scrutiny.  So I think I'm perfectly entitled to pass over the foofala and get to the meat – as stringy and fatty as it may be.**

Firstly – I can't stand James Cameron's ego. "This movie
will redefine how we see movies." What a dick. That aside though –
here's my major problem. Are the CGI in the film impressive?
Absolutely. They're revolutionary… I'll give him that. But my
question is – so what? Of what real use is technology like that if it's
not being implemented to better communicate a story that actually means
something? The guy spent tens of millions of dollars to practically
invent a new way of making movies… and once he did… he makes the
same old movie that Hollywood has been making for twenty years. What
abject laziness on his part. And how little he must think of the
viewing public, to think that we'd be so easily satisfied by flashing
lights – no matter how pretty they may be.

I look at the CG in
Avatar, and I see soullessness. I see form over function and style over
substance. And that's a really big problem for me. It's that issue that
makes me hate "artists" like Quentin Tarantino and Chuck Palahniuk –
both of them the tepid afterbirth of postmodern nihilism. Each of them
obsesses over the particular minutiae of a scene… the style of it
all… but with no real consideration to what those particulars are
working towards. The two of them don't speak or communicate – they just
belch. They emit noise that communicates nothing but itself. It's all
part of postmodernism, which I personally feel is the cancer of the
imagination. It operates on the bogus notion that everything's been
said – that there's no originality (but one of its many positions, I admit). So we just copy. And then we copy
the copy. And on and on. Have you ever photocopied a photocopy? The
more you do it, the more the image disappears… until finally, it's
gone forever.

Beyond that – there's the plot formula, which I
consider to be one of the most intellectually offensive formulas ever.
It's been used countless times – "Dances With Wolves"; "The Last
Samurai" (which I consider, still, to be the most offensive of the
bunch). Stories like this risk nothing – and yet preach with complete
and unearned authority. Consider it for a moment. A story like this
mythologizes a native culture (the Plains indians, or Samurai, or the
blue cat-people in Avatar) into the purest, cleanest, most
one-dimensional protagonist – it makes them entirely into a victim.
Then it makes caricatures out of the characters (the princess, the
shaman, the steely warrior, etc.). And then finally it puts the
antagonist (who is usually some military/imperial/colonial government
or people) in a giant black hat, and gives it a moustache to twirl. It
bifurcates the film's moral spectrum into complete black and white.
Natives = saintly / Imperials = wicked. Now I'm not an apologist for
imperialism and colonialism. I get that it's wrong. But history isn't
about black and white. It's about grey. The Samurai weren't the
elegant, sliken poet warriors Edward Zwick made them out to be in "The
Last Samurai." I read an actual autobiography of a Tokugawa-era samurai
while in college. The guy was an absolute prick. He was a pimp and a
drunk and a drug addict. He was a rapist and a murderer. He sold his
swords (which, according to the mythology of the samurai would NEVER
happen) in order to finance a drug purchase… and then, once he got
his fix, he found the guy he sold them to and murdered him… and took
them back. Paving over the greys of native cultures like this – making
complete victims out of them erases the very elements that make them
human. It martyrs them entirely… strips their humanity and makes them
into an idea. Which, to me anyway, is worse than genocide… because it
retrospectively erases their identity, and makes them into a lofty
cautionary tale for the very people responsible for their eradication.

Plus
– I object to the notion that the only way I could possibly see the
beauty of native culture is if a handsome white man serves as my lens
to it. The last samurai… was a white guy. And not just any white
guy… but Tom (fucking) Cruise… the whitest of all white guys.

And
finally, I'll
return to the idea of risk. Or, rather, the complete lack of risk. What
does polarizing the morality in a story like this do? Well… to me…
it lets the people with power off the hook. Think of it – an effete,
white, entitled American pays 10 bucks for a ticket… then watches a
society of beautiful hippies get slaughtered. We don't have to really
think about the complexities of a story like this – because there
aren't any complexities. The natives are objectively good. So we can
sit back and feel good about ourselves for pitying these people,
without ever having to question what we've gained at the cost of their
lives/culture. Stories like this reinforce our entitlement – they make
us feel good about ourselves. They somehow make us think that we're a
part of those mythologized cultures… or at least, along for the ride
with the turncoat – the guy who leaves the antagonists' side and throws
in with the hippies. But we're not. We're static. We just sit there.

That's all we do. We sit still and wait to be entertained.

"Avatar" is nothing but noise.  And it frightens me to think that we're all so tickled by it.  It's empty, soulless nonsense.

Now… interestingly… in thinking about this movie, my thoughts stumbled into two other CG-athons that attempt to make a saggy political/social statement.  These movies are, in my opinion, entirely more successful than "Avatar" ever could be. 

One is "WALL-E" – and I think its superiority to "Avatar" is entirely apparant.  So much so that it does not require that I spell it out for you all.  Still – I'll say this one thing – mainly because I don't want to be seen as the Luddite I really am.  "WALL-E" is a story told entirely through CG.  It's a movie about a little plucky trash can who falls in love with a sexy, Steve Jobsian space suppository.  These are the two main characters – chirruping, warbling hunks of metal (or plastic in the lady-bot's case).  These two characters are entirely removed from the audience in terms of their form – and yet, their story is unassaiably human.  "WALL-E" makes me cry every time I watch it.  Do you want to know why?  Because I always cry at a good love story.  And "WALL-E" is one of the loveliest, most honest love stories I've seen in a long long time.  Even if you leave out the bonk-bonk-over-the-head commentary about human excess and apathy, the story is beguilingly charming. 

The creators of this movie used CG as a tool to tell a story.  Cameron used his "story" as a tool to show off his CG.  Which is why, when the war comes… you can all side with the Navi (or whatever the hot, blue cat-people were called).  I'll be sticking with my rusty little friend.  He shows me volumes about my humanity.  The only thing I want to see from the Navi are their nipples.

The other film that I thought of – which I just watched today, in fact – is "Battle for Terra," which strangely, is EXACTLY the same story as "Avatar."  And yet – for a reason I've yet to understand – I adored "Battle for Terra."

This might seem like a cop-out on my part – because I'm going to leave it here.  I'm sorry about that.  I acknowledge that mentioning this puts some holes in my cheese.  But I assure you that I have every intention of examining this cognative dissonance thorougly.  I've already got a few ideas (chiefly being the juxtapositon of the darkness of the flim's tone and the softness of its animation – it's really pretty jarring to see wormy space yams obliterated by Fischer Price men)… but nothing solid just yet.

I'll get back to you. 

What Reconciles Me

August 6, 2009

"What reconciles me to my own death more than anything else is the image of a place: a place where your bones and mine are buried, thrown, uncovered, together.  They are strewn there pell-mell.  One of your ribs leans against my skull.  A metacarpal of my left hand lies inside your pelvis.  (Against my broken ribs, your breast like a flower.)  The hundred bones of our feet are scattered like gravel.  It is strange that this image of our proximity, concerning as it does mere phosphate of calcium, should bestow a sense of peace.  Yet it does.  With you I can imagine a place where to be phosphate of calcium is enough."

                                                                                       – John Berger

I want nothing more than to love this much – and to write this well.  And one day… I think I just might.

I am writing you this letter in reference to Claire Suddath's most recent article, "Mourning the Death of Handwriting".  In truth, I would have preferred to write you this letter by hand, but I worry that the irony of such a thing might cause Ms Suddath's head to explode.  

This was perhaps one of the worst articles I've read in a very long time.  The mixture of Ms Suddath's sad limitations of journalistic scope plus the transparently cavalier attitude with which she shared that scope both offended my intelligence, and  left me as a reader (to put it bluntly) seriously pissed off.

The arrogance and cynicism that Ms Suddath employs in the closing remarks of this piece are not only flippant and simplistic – but they even manage, in an act of surprising journalistic alchemy, to render every single word that comes before that conclusion entirely pointless.

If the issue itself is something so easily shrugged away, what's the value in writing about it at all?  Why did I bother to read this article, if the author could so glibly shuck the issue's relevance with the same dearth of intellectual consideration and wit that is most often expressed in a Facebook or Twitter post.

I'd suggest that you fire Ms Suddath, but to be honest the problem exists with your editors as well.  Whomever it was that misconstrued Ms Suddath's transparent, nihilistic, 20-something blather as wit shouldn't be editing Time Magazine – he or she should be writing for "Red Eye" on FOX News – a show now famous for its criminally simplistic interpretations of complex or otherwise important subjects.

"And let's be honest: the Declaration of Independence is already hard to read."

It is not my intention to fetishize the Declaration of Independence, but a statement like this is entirely unacceptable.  Not because it disrespects the document – the Declaration of Independence has no feelings to bruise.  The problem with this line is that it insults the intelligence of your readers.  A line like this hinges on the assumption that those people who read it will view one of the most important political documents in all of Western history as an excuse to get cute – as a punch line.  That they're more than willing to let paragraph after paragraph of cultural analysis be washed away with little more than a lazy zinger.  A joke.

Unfortunately, the only joke I see here is Claire Suddath.  And it isn't a very funny joke, at that.

I say this as a long-time reader of your magazine, AND a member of Ms Suddath's generation – as I am only two years older than she. 

It seems clear to me that it is your intention in publishing Ms Suddath's work to somehow speak to my generation.  That you have somehow gleaned that we are a population of vapid nihilists whose general response to any issue or crisis is to shrug, and snort, and take a swill from our PBR… satisfied in the knowledge that we're above such issues.  Because nothing means anything. 

Well I'm asking you to stop that.  Stop it.  Please stop pandering to the lowest common denominator of my generation – employing writers who infect us all with such flimsy and ultimately frivolous nonsense, masquerading as news, commentary and humor.

Ms Suddath's work is without a shred of wit, complexity or intellectual depth – and it's time you put a stop to it.

Sincerely,

a.