Alice Bolin writes for The Believer about Joan Didion, Los Angeles, and Play It As It Lays. The novel was also listed as one of The Millions‘s “Burnt-out Summer Reads,” so if there’s ever a time to read it, it’s probably now.
“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.
One consequence of creating a beloved show is that you’ve got to deal with superficial paeans to it. David Simon has to know this, but he still seems cranky in this interview. Of course I’m not saying he can’t be chagrined by Grantland or Vulture’s recent TV brackets (which Simon singled out in subsequent remarks), but when he says he’s “it’s wearying” for people “to be picking [The Wire] apart now like it’s a deck of cards or like they were there the whole time or they understood it the whole time,” it’s a bit harder to take his side, and you feel like he hasn’t watched Erlend Lavik’s sophisticated and thorough video essay about The Wire‘s visual style. Surely analyses like this (or Žižek‘s, which we’ve mentioned before) deserve due credit.
“Hitler increasingly presented himself in messianic terms, promising ‘to lead Germany to a new era of national greatness,’ though he was typically vague about his actual plans.” The New York Times‘ Michiko Kakutani writes a review of Volker Ullrich‘s new Hitler biography, Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939, so timely it could easily be an op-ed. Just read it. And when you’re done, read this too.
Brian Nitz wants environmentalists and writers to seriously consider whether the word “sustainable” is, well, sustainable. (Related: this XKCD comic)