Quote of the Day postsWednesday January 20, 2010
Welcome to the Loser's Club
"This is the point, to me, where art and fandom coincide. Every work of art is one half of a secret handshake, a challenge that seeks the password, a heliograph flashed from a tower window, an act of hopeless optimism in the service of bottomless longing. ... Art, like fandom, asserts the possibility of fellowship in a world built entirely from the materials of solitude. The novelist, the cartoonist, the songwriter, knows that the gesture is doomed from the beginning but makes it anyway, flashes his or her bit of mirror, not on the chance that the signal will be seen or understood but as if such a chance existed...
"Though I derive a sense of strength and confidence from writing and from my life as a husband and father, those pursuits are notoriously subject to endless setbacks and the steady exposure of shortcomings, weakness, and insufficiency—in particular in the raising of children. A father is a man who fails every day. Sometimes things work out: Your flashed message is received and read, your song is rerecorded by another band and goes straight to No. 1, you son blesses the memory of the day you helped him arrange the empty chairs of his foredoomed dream, your act of last-ditch desperation sends your comic-book company to the top of the industry. Success, however, does nothing to diminish the knowledge that failure stalks everything you do. But you always knew that. Nobody gets past the age of ten without that knowledge. Welcome to the club."
—Michael Chabon, "The Loser's Club," from the book Manhood for Amateurs
Clay Shirky Quote of the Day
"It is our misfortune to live through the largest increase in expressive capability in the history of the human race, a misfortune because surplus always breaks more things than scarcity. Scarcity means valuable things become more valuable, a conceptually easy change to integrate. Surplus, on the other hand, means previously valuable things stop being valuable, which freaks people out.
"To make a historical analogy with the last major increase in the written word, you could earn a living in 1500 simply by knowing how to read and write. The spread of those abilities in the subsequent century had the curious property of making literacy both more essential and less professional; literacy became critical at the same time as the scribes lost their jobs.
"The same thing is happening with publishing; in the 20th century, the mere fact of owning the apparatus to make something public, whether a printing press or a TV tower, made you a person of considerable importance. Today, though, publishing, in its sense of making things public, is becoming similarly de-professionalized; YouTube is now in the position of having to stop 8 year olds from becoming global publishers of video. The mere fact of being able to publish to a global audience is the new literacy, formerly valuable, now so widely available that you can't make any money with the basic capability any more.
"This shock of inclusion, where professional media gives way to participation by two billion amateurs (a threshold we will cross this year) means that average quality of public thought has collapsed; when anyone can say anything any time, how could it not? If all that happens from this influx of amateurs is the destruction of existing models for producing high-quality material, we would be at the beginning of another Dark Ages.
"So it falls to us to make sure that isn't all that happens."
—Clay Shirky, in a collection of World Question Center pieces
Steve Tesich Quote of the Day
As an immigrant to the United States, Mr. Tesich says, he was for a long time very positive and very optimistic about this country. That optimism, he says, has changed, and the change started with Vietnam.
"I didn't just love America," he says. "I was in love with America. I honestly believed that it was going to be one of those nations that would take care of everybody, that would try to make its rewards available to all. And now I feel there is absolutely no agenda for helping those on the bottom in this country. Nobody is really interested in them. And I don't know what the country stands for."
Quote of the Day
"It was, readers of The New York Times recently learned, a very good year for Paramount Pictures. Two of the year’s biggest hits, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” have helped the studio climb out of its financial hole with a combined domestic take of more than $500 million. Both movies are deeply stupid, often incoherent and hinged on the principle that the spectacle of violence is its own pleasurable end. “Transformers” is also casually racist. But hey, that’s entertainment.
Or, more specifically, that’s Hollywood entertainment in the conglomerate age. The major studios have long been in the business of serving sludge to the world, but now the reek often spreads around the globe simultaneously with massive coordinated openings. “Revenge of the Fallen,” for instance, opened the same day on more than 4,000 screens in the United States — about a 10th of all the screens in the country — and soon about 10,000 more abroad. “Angels & Demons,” the sequel to “The Da Vinci Code,” opened on some 3,500 screens domestically and ate up more than 10,000 internationally. The French film “Summer Hours,” meanwhile, the best-reviewed release in The Times that weekend, opened on two screens.
—Manohla Dargis, "Amid Studio Product, Independents' Resilience," December 17, 2009
Quote of the Day
“What delight and joy in reading the Auburn Plainsman's Ben Bartley, some red-white-and-blue type guy from Texas who's fuming that such an anti-corporate, anti-arrogant, anti-Bush legacy, pro-eco, pro-nativist pantheist tract is raking it in big-time and spreading the myth everywhere, and there's nothing this guy can do about it. Hah! Eat shit, Christian asshole!”
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