The busyness continues, and that means scant Bleatage, aside from the below-the-fold delights. (Warning: no actual delights provided.) I can tell you that I was chatting with a fellow at work today about some upcoming project related to the paper’s history, and he mentioned he’d had a phone call from a guy whose father was an illustrator for the paper in the old days.
I asked the name, pulse quickening a bit, and sure enough: the guy’s dad was the first Lance Lawson illustrator. So I called him up, and we’re going to have a chat next week, and I will probably get a look at some original Lance Lawson art.
So there’s that, and it was nice.
An interesting piece about how Time is “broken.”
This is why algorithmic time is so disorienting and why it bends your mind. Everything good, bad, and complicated flows through our phones, and for those not living some hippie Walden trip, we operate inside a technological experience that moves forward and back, and pulls you with it. Using a phone is tied up with the relentless, perpendicular feeling of living through the Trump presidency: the algorithms that are never quite with you in the moment, the imperishable supply of new Instagram stories, the scrolling through what you said six hours ago, the four new texts, the absence of texts, that text from three days ago that has warmed up your entire life, the four versions of the same news alert.
You can find yourself wondering why you’re seeing this now — or knowing too well why it is so. You can feel amazing and awful — exult in and be repelled by life — in the space of seconds. The thing you must say, the thing you’ve been waiting for — it’s always there, pulling you back under again and again and again. Who can remember anything anymore?
1. I can. I remember lots of things. And I can keep the day’s hours straight. I can parse the waxing and waning of online panics. The parts of the internet that produce addiction or submersion or the necessity to constantly polish your public facade - Facebook, Instagram - I avoid. No need. The Bleat is as it began over a quarter-century ago: a daily epistle, delivered intact, with no jerky twitchy gewgaws to juice engagement or make a page “sticky.” Comments are for community and conversation, but they’re not essential to what I do; they’re like people standing around outside the theater discussing the movie.
2. I spend a lot of time online, and I find it useful, informative, infuriating, ecstatic, depressing, alarming, occasionally reassuring. There are set periods in the day when I’m off it completely, and then I listen to podcasts, or old radio shows, or listen to music. These are outside of the scrum of the Very Online People and they feel grounded, leisurely, paced to a sensible rhythm.
In other words, I behave as I choose, and the people who are complaining about the internet melting their sense of time are experiencing the result of what they have chosen. It may be that they are particularly susceptible to the firehose of information because they grew up knowing nothing else, or took to it because they had a BS gig in the “industry” that required them to write meaningless pieces about second-rate influencers or listicles or quizzes for BuzzFeed. This required them to take the vast quantity of meretricious nonsense on the internet seriously, and inflate its thin bodkin into something important.
Whatever the reason, they have done this to themselves with the tools at hand. It was not the only way the tools could be used.
3. In the early days, the internet rewarded creativity, weirdness, discovery, and anything else that fed our appetite for new cool things to share. Now the internet rewards engagement, which has empowered a vast number of second-rate talents who parade their vanity and self-involvement, their wounds and grudges, their empty larders of cultural goods.
BuzzFeed is the perfect example - people who are technically adults but obsessed with Disney princess quizzes, flogging the dead corpse of “The Office” for another quiz that tells you what kind of breakfast you will have on your honeymoon, endless consumerism of female beauty products alongside Yay-for-us! Pieces about social issues so you know how you’re supposed to think. Everything about the site is indolence, narcissism, and recitation of proper thought, masking a gnawing fear that this entire community is a false construction. It worships celebrities and reveals their banality without recognizing it, because the worshippers are as banal as their idols; it has no sense of history or culture beyond the internet, and believes that the world began in the perfect mystical realm of the 90s. For all their quizzes asking what kind of X you are or what sort of X you’ll do, the people of BuzzFeed are the most remarkably incurious people you’ll ever meet.
4. This is a result of remix culture, I think. The past is nothing but source of snippets to be mined and repurposed, divorced from context, except when this quiz about Nickelodeon theme songs gives you all the feels. But remix culture is on the wane, because now we’re dredging up revivals to be re-revived, and we have nostalgia for a period when we were nostalgic about the first time we were nostalgic for it.
Without knowing history, facts, names, events, trends, concerns, panics, morals, tropes, and all the other shared threads of an era, you can’t understand what produced the thing you’re now claiming to have the right to reuse. If you can’t make sense of your current era, it’s because you don’t have the ability to make sense of any era, and hence don’t know how this all works in the flow of the last 100 years of the culture.
5. Most young generations have been cheerfully unconcerned with what came before, for the most part, because to be young is to be certain your time is the most important evah. But previous generations had time to sift and judge the products of their own time, because the pace of innovation and information was much mroe leisurely. Today everyone faces a firehose of content from waking to sleeping, if they're Very Online, and mistakes their ability not to drown with understanding where the water comes from, and why, and what it all means. It's like surviving waterboarding and concluding you're amphibious.
6. And so on, and so on, unto the grave, etc.
A man had to set aside a few hours just for the first page.
Remember, it’s 1919. Barn door, horse, etc
Looks like they were taking dictation from a drunk reporter. I shaid it establilshes a resherve.
In related news, inasmuch as it’s nearby: Jamaica had industry?
The more things change, etc - phooey to your super-governments, pal.
In school the textbooks always seemed sad that the League of Nations had been nixed by the US, and they felt very bad for President Wilson, who had tried to do his best for everyone. That’s the mood I got, anyway.
The race riots of 1919:
On July 27, 1919, an African-American teenager drowned in Lake Michigan after violating the unofficial segregation of Chicago’s beaches and being stoned by a group of white youths. His death, and the police’s refusal to arrest the white man whom eyewitnesses identified as causing it, sparked a week of rioting between gangs of black and white Chicagoans, concentrated on the South Side neighborhood surrounding the stockyards. When the riots ended on August 3, 15 whites and 23 blacks had been killed and more than 500 people injured; an additional 1,000 black families had lost their homes when they were torched by rioters.
Another thing my history books didn’t spend a lot of time covering: the immediate post-war era. The books moved right on to the Roaring Twenties, when everything was great and everyone had a radio and a fridge but uh oh too much speculation, but that was 10 years away. From the piece about the race riots:
The “Red Summer” of 1919 marked the culmination of steadily growing tensions surrounding the great migration of African Americans from the rural South to the cities of the North that took place during World War I. When the war ended in late 1918, thousands of servicemen returned home from fighting in Europe to find that their jobs in factories, warehouses and mills had been filled by newly arrived Southern blacks or immigrants. Amid financial insecurity, racial and ethnic prejudices ran rampant.
Meanwhile, African-American veterans who had risked their lives fighting for the causes of freedom and democracy found themselves denied basic rights such as adequate housing and equality under the law, leading them to become increasingly militant.
TR was a reliable quote machine for movies and plays, I think.
IMDB: “At the outbreak of the First World War, a mother and one of her two daughters are captured and debased at the hands of the Germans. The other daughter goes from America to find them in war torn Belgium.”
Some fights! See them!
Interesting poster. Those are some mighty red lips, podner
And why did our assistance help win the war?
“All the Americans were over 6 feet tall.”
Also here are our boys on horses and in case you are wondering. . .
Yes they are also over 6 feet tall.
It’s . . . pepifying!
And it makes you Scintillate!
They had excellent ad lingo back then.
Looks like he spiked it, to be honest, and you can't blame him; something to steady the nerves before you do something as chancey as fly.
That'll do; see you around.