Thursday Links

I know this is breaking with tradition, but seeing as I wrapped up my grading a couple days ago, I have more time to read and write for pleasure. One of my goals going forward is to try and post here more frequently, including more links to the abundance of great stuff available online. So here’s some post-hump day fare:

  • Ryan has commented on Wesley Morris’s greatness before, but it bears repeating: Wesley Morris is the best film critic in the game right now. But that doesn’t even really cover it. He might be the best writer about our contemporary cultural productions in general. His latest piece on the body in the media is the kind of stuff academics should be writing, though most don’t have the chops to do so, to say nothing of the humility to write about culture without the crutch of theoretical jargon. He also manages to weave in his own life in a way that’s not at all cloying, just heartbreaking. Can’t wait for this guy to put out a book of his essays. Bonus Grantland:  Mark Harris’s “Academy Taxonomy” is a great breakdown of how we end up with the Academy Award nominees we do. Even if Wesley Morris wasn’t writing for them, Grantland would have excellent movie coverage from smart folks like Harris. The fact that he is though makes the site indispensable.
  • Mark Yakich has written a defense of poetry that isn’t at all defensive. The fact that The Atlantic saw fit to run it is encouraging, as poetry gets dogged on all the time (often by the people who write it and write about it) for being “useless” in contemporary culture. The fact that people say this at a moment when rap music is at its most diverse and Twitter is reminding us of the importance of form and diction is frankly why many poets and critics deserve their poverty and obscurity. Pro tip: if you want people to think you matter, don’t trash your own creations. People respect confidence, not whining self-pity.
  • I’ve recently started watching The Rockford Files on Netflix. In another life I wrote a dissertation on bachelorhood in American literature up until the mid-1960s. One of the nice things about not being on the tenure track is that you don’t have to revisit your dissertation ever again if you don’t want to. But if I was going to redraft it, there’d have to be a chapter on James Garner’s Jim Rockford, a 1970s update of Chandler’s Marlowe. Instead of living in a Hollywood apartment, Rockford lives in a junky trailer on the beach in Malibu that would run him at least $4000 a month in rent now. He’s an ex-con (though he swears he didn’t rob that bank), and as he remarks to one of the show’s rotating cast of beautiful women: “I’m eligible for anything but marriage.” Every episode has at least one car chase, and the guy who plays Rockford’s dad (who’s also keepin’ it bach) is only 15 years older than Garner. You should watch this instead of any of the crap ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX are churning out.
  • I’ve never heard of James Delbourgo before, but I think he might be the kind of academic TGR can get behind. I’m not convinced yet, but this article in The Chronicle about curiosity cabinets and the internet is pretty interesting. Still, I have become so wary of academic discourse that I am constantly in “distrust and verify” mode when it comes to this stuff. He cites Evgeny Morozov though, so that’s a plus.
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