Oct 28, 2013
Street Hassle's centerpiece, now considered one of Reed's greatest accomplishments, taught me that getting just what I wanted from a song (uplift, for example, or sloppy catharsis) wasn't always the best thing. “Street Hassle” includes bluntly sexual lines that turned me on, but also made me feel the edge of my own prudery. It explores how one person dehumanizes another and, just a few minutes later, how losing one person can make a person feel real and whole for the first time. It's a song suite that doesn't sound at all like punk; it features strings, female back-up singers and Reed definitely crooning. There's also an uncredited spoken-word passage by the then-rising Springsteen that adds in some of that future superstar's trademark grandiosity, serving as a telling contrast to Reed's own cooler storytelling. The song's triptych of scenarios is very Velvets: A probable transvestite picks up a male hooker at a bar; a drug dealer worries about how to get rid of an overdose victim's body; and, in the last verse, a more anonymous lover laments his man's departure in naked, needful agony. A lot happens musically around these stories, but every violin stroke, guitar bend and percussive push intensifies the focus on Reed's core message: that opening up your being — to sex or drugs or just to feeling — is inevitable, dangerous and the main purpose of life.
Ann Powers, “What Lou Reed Taught Me
Oct 28, 2013
Even though many advocates of feminist politics ere angered by [Sheryl] Sandberg’s message, the truth is that alone, individually she was no threat to feminist movement. Had the conservative white male dominated world of mass media and advertising not chosen to hype her image, this influential woman would not be known to most folks. It is this patriarchal male dominated re-framing of feminism, which uses the body and personal success of Sheryl Sandberg, that is most disturbing and yes threatening to the future of visionary feminist movement. The model Sandberg represents is all about how women can participate and “run the world.” But of course the kind of world we would be running is never defined. It sounds at times like benevolent patriarchal imperialism. This is the reason it seemed essential for feminist thinkers to respond critically, not just to Sandberg and her work, but to the conservative white male patriarchy that is using her to let the world know what kind of woman partner is acceptable among elites, both in the home and in the workplace.
bell hooks, “Dig Deep: Beyond Lean In
Oct 28, 2013
A cinematic move is something like the category of the gesture in the philosophy of Giorgio Agamben. He gives a splendid example from Dostoevsky’s 1869 novel The Idiot: when Nastasya, in the midst of a tense, domestic power game, impulsively decides to hurl a bag of one hundred thousand rubles into the fire. The character, according to Agamben, is not guided by “anything like a rational decision or a moral principle”, by anything that is predetermined by will or reflection, but rather appears to be “gripped by a delirium”. This moment of decisive but blind action, fantastic and unexpected, henceforth changes everything in the lives of the characters, as well as in Dostoevsky’s narrative itself. We could also think of this gesture as a moment of turbulence, arising mysteriously but with absolute rightness amidst the flow of fictional life, as screenwriter-theorist Yvette Bíró (in her life-long attempt to adapt a ‘theory of complexity’ to cinema) uses these terms – a moment prompted by the interplay of complex subterranean forces, and immediately compelling a radical change or transformation. Shigehiko Hasumi makes a similar point in relation to the surprisingly crucial role played by seemingly banal, endlessly repeated observations about the sunny weather in Yasujiro Ozu’s films: “Such references are not at all theatrical; they bring about a narrative transformation, play a role similar to a punctuation mark by shifting an episode to the next scene … We might say that, with these exchanges as opportunities, the film moves”.
Adrian Martin and Cristina Álvarez López, “The Moves: Precise Sequences of Emotion
Oct 25, 2013

I am Not Sex Positive: A Riff On the Collusion Between Sex Positivity and the Carceral State

Oct 25, 2013
Almost every film about teenagers—teen movies, to use the best and most popular term—hinges on a double perspective: they inhabit the ‘eternal present’ moment of its adolescent characters—life lived in an unbroken flow of passion and rage and inquisitive searching—while also seeking to place that heady moment in the larger context of history. It is in the transition from the seemingly limitless potential of that Teen Moment to the wider flow of time, both personal and social, that the painful contradictions inherent in the teen genre make themselves most keenly felt.
Adrian Martin, “14 Uneasy Pieces of Teenage Life
Oct 23, 2013
[Reddit] as a whole is undergirded by a basic kind of libertarian permissiveness. In a perfect world, one that has achieved gender, racial and sexual equality, and in which all voices are equally represented, this sort of permissiveness might be enough to ensure a stable, healthy, self-regulating platform. But this is not a perfect world; you can’t hand a bunch of racists, misogynists and homophobes the keys to the castle and then reasonably expect them to deny entry to other racists, misogynists and homophobes.
Oct 23, 2013
If there is a normality here, it’s a state of near-catatonia. [The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition] seems to have no definition of happiness other than the absence of suffering. The normal individual in this book is tranquilized and bovine-eyed, mutely accepting everything in a sometimes painful world without ever feeling much in the way of anything about it. The vast absurd excesses of passion that form the raw matter of art, literature, love, and humanity are too distressing; it’s easier to stop being human altogether, to simply plod on as a heaped collection of diagnoses with a body vaguely attached.
Sam Kriss, “Book of Lamentations
Oct 23, 2013
The regular guy, the popular girl, have to repress not only their desires and insights, but even the symptoms that in bourgeois times resulted from repression. Just as the old injustice is not changed by a lavish display of light, air and hygiene, but is in fact concealed by the gleaming transparency of rationalized big business, the inner health of our time has been secured by blocking flight into illness without in the slightest altering its aetiology. The dark closets have been abolished as a troublesome waste of space, and incorporated in the bathroom. What psychoanalysis suspected, before it became itself a part of hygiene, has been confirmed. The brightest rooms are the secret domain of faeces.
Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia
Oct 22, 2013
G-funk differentiated itself from standard gangsta posturing by the way it dissolved the hard ego of the rapper into clouds of Chronic. Beneath the busyness of capitalist realism—and its demands that we never stop selling ourselves—was another mode of being, where time diffused slowly as exhaled smoke. Beyond the phallic machismo, there was a different libidinal economy, defined by a superficially paradoxical combination of deep yearning and a desire to remain absolutely in the sunlight-saturated moment, liberated from the urgencies of business. This is all the more poignant because a gangster’s work is never done, his enemies don’t sleep, and chilled-out bliss could be terminated at any moment by gunfire. To the G-funk celebration of smoking, Rashad adds other affective toners: the lost-in-the-moment exhilaration of the raver, and R&B’s wistful regrets/lascivious moaning. The overall result is, in terms of mood and affect, oddly reminiscent of cool-era jazz—there is the same ambivalence, the same evocation of an harsh yet alluring urban environment, the same combination of sadness and confidence, the same articulation of longing and bliss.
Break It Down: Mark Fisher on DJ Rashad’s Double Cup
Oct 17, 2013
Women are online. Women are intelligent, strategic and incisive. The women who exemplify this story are not the women we are “supposed” to be looking at, according to what mainstream feminism tells us. They aren’t career feminists, and some would hesitate to call themselves feminists at all. But when it comes to addressing the concerns and issues of our lives; they may not be branded, but they are pretty effective. Women focusing on supporting each other could move media in ways that had not yet been seen.
Sydette Harry, “Solve or Show: The Long Feminist Summer