Different Ways To Pray, Ctd

Apr 20 2014 @ 7:36am

Last time we checked in on Carolyn Browender’s Lenten resolution to spend a week following the prayer practices of different faith traditions, she had tried Mormonism and Quakerism. She then turned to Roman Catholicism:

I borrowed a rosary from a friend and after some hunting around, found  a how-to pamphlet from the Knights of Columbus and a list of the different mysteries you’re supposed to mediate on when praying. I didn’t know the Hail Mary, Glory Be, Fatima Prayer or Hail Holy Queen, so my first attempt was clumsy. I kept alternating between the pamphlet for the prayers and the list of mysteries. My second attempt was a bit smoother and was done right before I went to sleep. At this point I’d memorized the Hail Mary and Glory Be, and found it much easier to relax and fall into a more contemplative state. While my mind would sometimes wander while contemplating the mysteries (I focused on the sorrowful ones), I did appreciate the physicality of fingering beads. This seems to be a theme for me this Lent: If there is some kind of ritual or movement I can perform my prayers are likely to be more focused.

Next up was Judaism, which proved a linguistic challenge:

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A Poem For Saturday

Apr 19 2014 @ 9:12pm

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“Jordan (II)” by George Herbert (1593-1633):

When first my lines of heav’nly joyes made mention,
Such was their lustre, they did so excell,
That I sought out quaint words, and trim invention;
My thoughts began to burnish, sprout, and swell,
Curling with metaphors a plain intention,
Decking the sense, as if it were to sell.

Thousands of notions in my brain did runne,
Off’ring their service, if I were not sped:
I often blotted what I had begunne;
This was not quick enough, and that was dead.
Nothing could seem too rich to clothe the sunne,
Much lesse those joyes which trample on his head.

As flames do work and winde, when they ascend,
So did I weave my self into the sense.
But while I bustled, I might heare a friend
Whisper, How wide is all this long pretence!
There is in love a sweetnesse readie penn’d:
Copie out onely that, and save expense.

(Photo by Mark Probst)

A Supremely Strange Short

Apr 19 2014 @ 8:21pm

Jonathan Crow calls Samuel Beckett’s only movie – titled, simply, Film – “enigmatic, bleakly funny and very, very odd”:

The 17-minute silent short is essentially a chase movie between the camera and the main character O  – as in object. Film opens with O cowering from the gaze of a couple he passes on the street. Meanwhile, the camera looms just behind his head. At his stark, typically Beckettesque flat, O covers the mirror, throws his cat and his chihuahua outside and even trashes a picture — the only piece of decoration in the flat — that seems to be staring back at him. Yet try as he might, O ultimately can’t quite evade being observed by the gaze of the camera. …

Ever since it came out, critics have been puzzling what Film is really about. Is it a statement on voyeurism in cinema? On human consciousness? On death? Beckett gave his take on the movie to the New Yorker: “It’s a movie about the perceiving eye, about the perceived and the perceiver — two aspects of the same man. The perceiver desires like mad to perceive and the perceived tries desperately to hide. Then, in the end, one wins.” Keaton himself defined the movie even more succinctly, “A man may keep away from everybody but he can’t get away from himself.”

Meanwhile, Tim Martin reviews Beckett’s recently published “lost” short story Echo’s Bones. He sees a young writer still struggling to cast off the burden of James Joyce’s influence:

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The Politics Of Porn

Apr 19 2014 @ 8:19pm

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Christopher Ingraham compares red and blue states’ porn-watching habits:

Blue states watch more porn. But what’s the matter with Kansas? According to Pornhub Insights, Kansas leads the nation in porn pageviews per capita at roughly 194. They don’t specify what interval this is over (monthly, weekly, etc), but the state-by-state comparison is nonetheless interesting.

Plotting Obama vote share in 2012 versus porn consumption, it looks like blue states consume more porn per capita than red ones. Aside from Kansas – a clear outlier – and Georgia, the remaining top ten per-capita porn consumers are all blue. Similarly, New Mexico and Maine are the only blue states in the bottom ten per-capita porn consumers.

In other porn analysis, Calvin Hennick wonders why commenters on porn sites are, on the whole, more upbeat than those elsewhere on the Internet:

Take this sampling from XVideos, a site where I’ve spent hours, ahem, researching this phenomenon:

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The Pleasures Of Stoned Sex

Apr 19 2014 @ 6:34pm

Like Savage and Yoffe, Maureen O’Connor celebrates pot’s place in the bedroom:

Perhaps as powerful as the way weed makes users feel, is how it makes them act and interact.

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The Dating Lives Of Porn Stars

Apr 19 2014 @ 5:44pm

Vox talked to some:

Danny Wylde: While in the industry, I’ve only dated people in the industry. My sexual experiences while in the industry with people outside of it often felt like I was a novelty, or something like, “Well, you better be really great in the sack because you fuck for a living.” …

Jesse Flores: I don’t date anyone in the industry. I prefer outside of it only. But being in the industry adds to the struggle. Once I tell the guys I’m in the industry, their creep factor goes into overdrive. They think it’s okay to say or ask whatever, with no respect.

It’s like, “Would you ask that to someone you met at the store or coffee shop?” No! So why is it okay to ask me that just because I do porn?

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Pick-ups To Put Down

Apr 19 2014 @ 5:00pm

Leah Green filmed men’s reactions to her sexist comments:

The Everyday Sexism project catalogs women’s experiences of unwanted sexual advances. One example:

I was grabbed from behind at a club and force kissed by a guy that I’d never even seen before let alone spoken to. When I pushed him off and turned to see who it was there was a whole group of guys cheering and laughing. I still couldn’t even tell which one it was.

Last week, David Foster inspired a storm of Internet invective when he wrote critically of the project, warning that “there is a risk of comparing offensive and clumsy sexual remarks with respectful, courteous sexual advances”:

We can all agree that aggressive, lewd behaviour is deplorable. But what lies behind some of the crude and boorish conduct catalogued by the Everyday Sexism project is repressed sexuality. It is only by becoming more sexually liberated that those energies might come to be expressed in a respectful way. To promote the outright condemnation of any and all direct sexual propositions would be a disastrously regressive step for the feminist movement. It is a clear indication of how much ground the left has ceded in recent decades that any of this needs restating at all. Whatever happened to the sexual revolution?

Kat Stoeffel challenges Foster’s concerns:

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Mental Health Break

Apr 19 2014 @ 4:20pm

A glitchy GIF tour of ’80s and ’90s pop culture:

“The Key To Making Art”

Apr 19 2014 @ 3:44pm

In her Byliner original, “The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life,” Ann Patchett describes the process of putting a story on the page. She claims every writer must cultivate a certain capacity:

Forgiveness.

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So You Think You Can Write

Apr 19 2014 @ 3:09pm

When Jenni Diski was just a teenager in 1964, Doris Lessing – who had then just published The Golden Notebook – invited her to live at her home. Diski recalls what she learned about writing from the future Nobel winner:

Doris taught me how to be a writer. I don’t mean she gave me lessons, or talked about writing. I can’t remember her ever talking about writing, except to mumble occasionally that she was on a very difficult bit at the moment, meaning she was preoccupied, or to bellow as I thumped down the stairs past her closed door “Be quiet. I’m working”. I was very impressed with the idea that writing was work. Even now, I always say, “I’m working”, rather than “I’m writing”, if anyone asks. … I learned what it was to be a writer from being around, in the house, day by day, observing her being one. …

To sum it up, being a writer meant:

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Library Love, Ctd

Apr 19 2014 @ 2:25pm

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Today marks the final day of National Library Week. In an essay adapted from The Public Library: A Photographic Essay by Robert Dawson, Charles Simic celebrates the democratic draw of the institution:

Like many other Americans of my generation, I owe much of my knowledge to thousands of books I withdrew from public libraries over a lifetime. I remember the sense of awe I felt as a teenager when I realized I could roam among the shelves, take down any book I wanted, examine it at my leisure at one of the library tables, and if it struck my fancy, bring it home. …

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Who Needs World Literature?

Apr 19 2014 @ 1:46pm

Michael Cronin presents the central argument of Emily Apter’s provocative Against World Literature: On The Politics of Untranslatability:

In the anglophone world, where less than 3 percent of all published titles are translations, the idea of world literature would appear to be an urgent and necessary corrective to the political and linguistic hubris of the speakers of a dominant global language. Apter, however, is not so sure. This is not because she does not believe translation to be valuable or important. In fact, it is precisely because she does believe it to be so crucial that she wants it to be taken seriously. Her concerns lie with a notion of world literature that erases difference or sifts out the foreign or the unsettling in the name of easy consumption. In this way world literature mimics a free-market fantasy of the endless, frictionless circulation of goods and information. In this McDonaldization of the written word, there is no room for difficulty or opacity.

Gloria Fisk finds herself unconvinced:

What does a critic oppose, exactly, when she takes a stand “against world literature”? Emily Apter takes that polemic as the title of her latest book, but she uses it to advance a thesis that requires no argument at all: Something always gets lost in translation.

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Face Of The Day

Apr 19 2014 @ 1:13pm

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Lorenzo Triburgo explores the conflict between the real and fabricated in portraiture through his photographs of transgender people:

“I wanted to make a genuine, proud portrait while at the same time calling attention to the fallacy of portraiture,” [Triburgo] said in an interview. The Portland photographer sought to use the medium of photography and the theme of portraiture to explore both American masculinity and transgender identity. When he started the endeavor in 2008, Triburgo was going through his own transition so the project allowed him to navigate personal issues through professional interests.

See more of Triburgo’s work here and here.

A Short Story For Saturday

Apr 19 2014 @ 12:25pm

The opening passage of Zadie Smith’s “Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets,” from the latest issue of The Paris Review:

“Well, that’s that,” Miss Dee Pendency said, and Miss Adele, looking back over her shoulder, saw that it was. The strip of hooks had separated entirely from the rest of the corset. Dee held up the two halves, her big red slash mouth pulling in opposite directions.

“Least you can say it died in battle. Doing its duty.”

“Bitch, I’m on in ten minutes.”

When an irresistible force like your ass . . .

“Don’t sing.”

“Meets an old immovable corset like this . . . You can bet as sure as you liiiiiive!

“It’s your fault. You pulled too hard.”

“Something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give, SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE.”

“You pulled too hard.”

“Pulling’s not your problem.” Dee lifted her bony, white Midwestern leg up onto the counter, in preparation to put on a thigh-high. With a heel she indicated Miss Adele’s mountainous box of chicken and rice: “Real talk, baby.”

Keep reading here. Smith’s most recent novel is NW. Previous SSFSs here.

The View From Your Window Contest

Apr 19 2014 @ 12:00pm

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You have until noon on Tuesday to guess it. City and/or state first, then country. Please put the location in the subject heading, along with any description within the email. If no one guesses the exact location, proximity counts.  Be sure to email entries to contest@andrewsullivan.com. Winner gets a free The View From Your Window book or two free gift subscriptions to the Dish. Have at it.

Resegregation In The North

Apr 19 2014 @ 11:26am

Jelani Cobb points out the failure of desegregation isn’t just afflicting the South:

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The Tease Of Spring

Apr 19 2014 @ 10:55am

Linda Holmes is excited for the season:

I have feelings about spring. Every spring, I look forward to that first day that I can drive with the window down, even though I’ve been driving with the window down since I was a little girl. (I recommend accompanying this trip with the New Pornographers’ record Mass Romantic.) Every spring, there’s that one day. That one day, when you turn the corner. You hit the farmer’s market in a shirt you’ve washed and dried a hundred times until it’s fuzzy and pilling. …

It’s true: We shouldn’t grouse about the way winter hangs around. (Even though, in many places, this winter was worse than most.) We should be used to it. It starts to get better, and then it rains, it gets cold again, and we feel suspended and impatient, snapped back and forth between cold and warm. But all that angst is just part of the dance. … We are still this grumpy because we are so ready. We are leaning forward, sniffing the air, looking for blooms, grabbing a jacket for one more stupid day of stupid jacket weather, in part because we know there’s an end. It will be spring. It will get warm. There will be sun. Lust so rarely comes with a guarantee.

The Fix Is In

Apr 19 2014 @ 10:06am

Former boxing manager Charles Farrell admits to fixing fights:

Fight fixing is such an accepted part of the boxing business that there’s a standard way to do it. You call up or visit the gym of any trainer who represents “opponents,” and have the following exchange:

“I’ve got a middleweight who could use a little work.” [Read: His fight shouldn’t be more than a brisk sparring session.]

“I got a good kid. But he ain’t been in the gym much lately.” [He’s out of shape.]

“That’s OK. I’m not looking for my guy to go too long.” [It’s got to be a knockout win.]

“My kid can give him maybe three good rounds.”

And that’s it. Your fighter’s next bout will go into the record books as a third-round knockout victory.

He thinks it’s the humane thing to do:

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Gracy Olmstead puts her finger on what bothers her about Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher whose refusal to pay fees for grazing his cattle on federal land ended up in an armed standoff with government agents last weekend:

Bundy isn’t upholding state sovereignty—he’s upholding his own personal conception of state sovereignty. … The problem with Bundy’s stance is that he has no higher end in this fight than his own interests. Though it’s true that the federal government’s takeover of Nevada land is decidedly frustrating to many, there are other methods of protest—less flashy and attention grabbing, perhaps, but methods which appeal to both parties and grasp the importance of compromise and persuasion. But Bundy is not interested in such methods. Rather than using the avenues and pathways presented to him, Bundy has staunchly declared his own law and allegiances.

Unfortunately, reality doesn’t work this way. If only it did—we could rebel for paying stupid taxes, refuse to ever attend jury duty, sell whatever we want on the streets without a license. Maybe our world would be better for it—or maybe it would become chaotic and anarchical, characterized by a tyrannical majority that insists on whatever it wills for its own good.

Danny Vinik takes NRO’s Kevin Williamson to task for comparing Bundy to George Washington and Mahatma Gandhi:

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X Marks The Future

Apr 19 2014 @ 8:49am


In a lengthy behind-the-scenes profile of Google X – the company’s secret innovation lab responsible for driverless cars and Google Glass - Jon Gertner offers insight into a program that blurs the lines between science fiction and reality. He describes what it’s like to pitch an idea to “Rapid Eval,” X’s vetting team:

At one point, [Rapid Eval head Rich] DeVaul asks if I have any ideas of my own for Rapid Eval consideration. I had been warned in advance that he might ask this, and I came prepared with a suggestion: a “smart bullet” that could protect potential shooting victims and reduce gun violence, both accidental and intentional. You have self-driving cars that avoid harm, I say. Why not self-driving ballistics?

DeVaul doesn’t say it’s the stupidest thing he’s ever heard, which is a relief. What ensues is a conversation that feels like a rapid ascent up [an] imaginary ladder. We quickly debate the pros and cons of making guns intelligent (that technology ­already exists to a certain degree) versus making bullets intelligent (likely much more difficult). We move from a specific discussion of “self-­pulverizing” bullets with tiny, embedded hypodermic needles that deliver stun-drugs (DeVaul’s idea) to potentially using sensors and the force of gravity to bring a bullet to the ground before it can strike the wrong target ([Xer Mitch] Heinrich’s). Then comes the notion of separating the bullet’s striker from the explosive charge with a remote disabling electronic switch ([Xer Dan] Piponi). The tenor soon changes, though.

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