“Our Aesthetic Categories, though, argues on behalf of aesthetic experiences that aren’t quite so awe-inspiring or rare. Sitting before your computers or walking the streets of your town, you don’t encounter beautiful things as frequently as you do interesting, momentarily arresting ones—and as for the sublime, when was the last time you experienced catharsis? Instead, [Sianne] Ngai considers our ‘minor’ aesthetic experiences, the ones that make up our day.” In the era of adorkable and nerd chic, Slate looks at Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting.
A lot has already been said about Nicolas Winding Refn’s newest and arguably most provocative film, Neon Demon. At The Rumpus, Jeffery Edalatpour examines beauty and its extremes, and also asks a couple questions of the director, himself: “Refn has revised the mythology of Aphrodite; she dons as much armor as Athena, enjoying nothing but the hunt. When I asked the director if he could cite any visual influences, his flat affect implied disdain for my simplistic question: ‘I just photograph what I find interesting. I believe that women are more powerful and more interesting than men. It’s just very much what I like to fantasize about.’ Fair enough.”
Half a century ago, it would have been inconceivable to think that one day, the clack of typewriter keys would disappear from daily life. The rise of the personal computer, in Sadie Stein’s words, turned an everpresent sound into a “living anachronism.” She reflects on the value of the typewriter in a blog post for The Paris Review Daily. (It might also be a good time to read our own Bill Morris on typewriters and pen pals.)
An intrepid (or sadistic?) YouTube user created a “No Cry Challenge” video playlist composed of nineteen videos that will surely punch you in the gut. These things are heavy and heart wrenching. I don’t want to mislead you at all: they could very well ruin your entire week. The first one in the queue is especially devastating; I recommend doing it last. After you watch a couple, go outside and take a walk. Hug a family member, a pet or a friend. (via)
This week in Fascinating Archive Picks: The New Statesman dug up a Philip Larkin essay from 1962. Kicking off with an eccentric fantasy of hearing Shakespeare’s voice on vinyl, the essay delves into the importance attached to a poet’s voice, which impels Larkin to regret that early record producers didn’t think to record Thomas Hardy. Related: Leah Falk on reading poems aloud.
Those of you with some knowledge of Pale Fire and Lolita won’t be surprised to learn what Nabokov thought of dinner parties. Namely, he thought they were awful, vaguely surreal events, held largely by drunkards with overriding appetites for drama. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein quotes a passage from “The Vane Sisters” to explain why “It’s hard to think of someone you’d want less at a midcentury faculty tea, save maybe a seething Shirley Jackson.” You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.