“Can we ever pinpoint a person’s true identity? … How can we point to something in the world with complete accuracy, without also being meaninglessly redundant? Harpo’s answer to ‘who are you?’ is a visual-gag version of the Buddha’s infuriatingly honest answer to the same question. When asked who he was, he would say, gesturing to himself: I am thathagatha (the one who is like this).” On Groucho Marx, nihilism, and the destruction of comedy over at Slate.
This month the Cleveland International Film Festival will show Dear Mr. Watterson, a film exploring “how … a simple comic strip became so meaningful to such a massive and diverse group of people.” Yet despite the subject matter, the actual author of the Calvin and Hobbes series will almost certainly be absent from the screenings. Over at Full Stop, Liv Combe looks at the ways Bill Watterson is “keeping the idea of the private public figure alive.”
Year in Reading alumna Ottessa Moshfegh has a new story in this week’s issue of the New Yorker, titled “The Beach Boy.” Moshfegh also spoke with Deborah Treisman about her writing: “Isn’t it hilarious when people are blind to their own arrogance? For some, no amount of American liberal-arts education, charitable contributions, or hours spent listening to NPR will ever wake them up to their own privileged, bigoted, and classist attitudes. […] One might say that New Yorkers like the folks in ‘The Beach Boy’ are especially susceptible to the kind of stupidity I love to write about—the stupidity of entitlement.”