‘Stars Wars’ and the End of Culture

Two noteworthy events happened in 2015: the premier of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the publication of Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society, by Mario Vargas Llosa. Seemingly different, the two works actually have a lot to do with each other. Notes on the Death of Culture is a … Continued

Culture

Cards Against Humanity: We Are the New, Crude Victorians

“In 1000 years, when paper money is but a distant memory ________ will be our currency”  Your choices to fill in the blank are: “The Jews,” “Black People,” “Coat Hanger Abortions,” or “Poorly Timed Holocaust Jokes.”  Congratulations! You’ve just played your first hand of Cards Against Humanity. I recently played Cards Against Humanity with a … Continued

Culture

The Case Against the Case Against High School Sports

By nature, adolescent boys like to do dumb, dangerous, and physically challenging things. This is not the case with all boys, but it a general truth about most boys. High school sports, especially football, help to harness this energy and turn it into to something positive. That’s my short answer to “The Case Against High … Continued

Culture, Entertainment, Sports

Chivalry and Gay Men

Slate’s Katy Waldman posted a short piece Thursday commenting on an Advocate article by Neal Broverman which raised a question about gay men and chivalry. The gay Broverman described an incident in which a trio of apparently straight men held an elevator door open for him to exit first, and it prompted him to wonder … Continued

Culture

How to Revive Community One Cone at a Time

From baristas to soda jerks? That seems to be the yesteryear trajectory that Starbucks has decided to test drive as it strives to stay on top of the current retail beverage market. Cafés in Seattle, Atlanta, and Austin have served as the experimentation laboratories for the company’s foray into specialty carbonated drinks. The sodas are … Continued

Culture

There’s More to Life than Politics–Isn’t There?

“Man,” Aristotle declared long ago, “is a political animal.” Perhaps too political. Sonny Bunch, managing editor of the Washington Free Beacon, has written a few times about his frustration with people so consumed by politics that they can’t separate it from the rest of their lives. “I’m not talking about people getting worked up about … Continued

Culture, Politics

The Humanities and the Counterculture

In his commencement address recently at Brandeis University, New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier posed a critical two-part question to graduates about to embark in a brave new world. “Has there ever been a moment in American life,” he asked, “when the humanities were cherished less, and has there ever been a moment in American … Continued

Culture

How Technology Is Killing Human Connections, Happy Hour Edition

Will everything one day be sacrificed on the altar of convenience and efficiency? When it comes to how we interact with each other, we certainly seem to be trending in that direction. E-mail, texting, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other innovations of the digital age have expanded our social networks in a breathtaking way while, at … Continued

Culture, Tech

Augustine vs. Eminem: The Current Cultural Impasse

I recently came across two blog posts on The Atlantic that represent the current cultural distance between conservatives and liberals. The first post criticized conservatives for being uncreative reactionaries who sound like idiots when they condemn popular culture. The second post was by a liberal who is proud to be an ignoramus about basic things … Continued

Books, Culture

From Robert Penn Warren to Honey Boo Boo: People Magazine, Then and Now

Earlier this week, I was doing some research on the writer Eleanor Clark (1913-96)–who was the wife of Robert Penn Warren (1905-89), the famed Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and poet, and author of the remarkable All the King’s Men–when I came across this beautiful little article from 1977 about the couple titled, “Robert Penn Warren and Wife … Continued

Culture