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Raskolnikov Meets the Caped Crusader, and Other News

April 8, 2014 | by

Dostoyevsky-cvr

Image via Open Culture

  • If you’re having trouble getting serious reading done, you can go ahead and blame the Internet, which fosters deleterious skimming habits. “It was torture getting through the first page. I couldn’t force myself to slow down so that I wasn’t skimming, picking out key words, organizing my eye movements to generate the most information at the highest speed. I was so disgusted with myself.”
  • Yesterday was Don B.’s birthday, making today the perfect occasion to reread his 1987 essay, “Not-Knowing.” “Let us discuss the condition of my desk. It is messy, mildly messy. The messiness is both physical (coffee cups, cigarette ash) and spiritual (unpaid bills, unwritten novels). The emotional life of the man who sits at the desk is also messy—I am in love with a set of twins, Hilda and Heidi, and in a fit of enthusiasm I have joined the Bolivian army.”
  • “Every April, ‘O, Miami’ attempts to deliver a poem to every single person in Miami-Dade County.” (There are at least 2.591 million of them—I just checked.)
  • Crime and Punishment and Batman: all in one scintillating, thrill-packed issue of Dostoyevsky Comics. One wonders which superhero moonlighted in the Brothers Karamazov issue.
  • From the annals of game-show history comes Bumper Stumpers, a late-eighties Canadian television curio in which contestants parsed the wordplay in vanity license plates. (E.g., VTHKOLM, which means “fifth column,” obviously.)
  • Meet Todd Manly-Krauss, the “writer” with the world’s most irritating Facebook presence.

 

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Peace Reigns Throughout the Land, and Other News

January 16, 2014 | by

Peace-Dove-Detail

Stained glass window, Denis and Saint Sebastian Church, Kruft, Germany. Photo: Reinhardhauke, Wikimedia Commons.

*persistent, intractable religious hostilities notwithstanding

 

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The End of the Internet: An Interview with Matthew Thurber

January 2, 2014 | by

Infomaniacs

I met cartoonist and musician Matthew Thurber six-odd years ago somewhere in Prospect Park (a séance? a picnic?), and then saw him play alto saxophone in his Muzak-jazz-punk trio Soiled Mattress and the Springs at the New York Art Book Fair. We kept running into one another in odd places; or, since New York City is now lacking in odd places, at places where subculture obsessives go to convince themselves there’s still oddness in the world. Soiled Mattress broke up in 2008, but Thurber’s “Anti-Matter Cabaret” act Ambergris has continued, and sometimes he plays with artist Brian Belott as Court Stenographer and Young Sherlock Holmes. In 2011, after years of publishing minicomics, zines, and books on tape, Thurber collected his serial 1-800-Mice in graphic-novel form. It’s about a messenger mouse named Groomfiend, a peace punk named Peace Punk, and a cast of thousands. More recently, Thurber wrote a culture diary for this blog, and started Tomato House gallery with his girlfriend, Rebecca Bird, in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn.

Thurber’s new graphic novel, Infomaniacs, is about the singularity and the end of the Internet; it’s also the final book from the great comics publisher PictureBox, which serialized parts of Infomaniacs online starting in 2010. The book’s heroine is Amy Shit, a punk rapper who sometimes lives off the grid—in a subway tunnel, even. Her brother’s a neo–Ned Ludd who goes around smashing iPhones. Meanwhile, Ralph is an Internet addict who escapes from reality rehab, then embeds in an immortality cult run by a libertarian oligarch who wants to eat the brain of the last man who’s never seen the Internet. A horse and a bat, both intelligence agents for the ATF (Anthropomorphic Task Force), wonder what the singularity will look like—a 1950s computer, a crystal, a cell phone, a tree branch?

Thurber’s video trailer offers a sense of the comic’s raucous hugger-mugger and subterranean surrealism, but doesn’t touch on its Underground Man againstness. For that, perhaps this quote, from an early, uncollected strip: “All bundled up and no place to go … The man who hates the Internet is a man who hates the world.”

Thurber and I met in the office I share with a puppet theater, near the Barclays Center. Giant heads hung from the walls. I don’t have Wi-Fi and don’t know anyone’s password. Read More »

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Like: Facebook and Schadenfreude

October 30, 2012 | by

I was the 501st person to join Facebook. The inimitable Hatty Hong, number 499, urged me on from her desk across our freshman dorm room. I hardly used it the first few months because so few others were active, and as a senior I logged on to look at dead people’s profiles. Or to click through photographs of myself to remember where my time went. I didn’t think it was appropriate to remain a member after graduation. Facebook was something you were to outgrow, like Tommy Girl perfume or AOL Instant Messenger. Five years since graduation, I use it more now than ever.

As an elder user, I can say one thing with authority: When it comes to disseminating news about Facebook, few media are more effective than Facebook itself. That’s how I came to learn that longtime users like me are more likely to believe others happier than themselves. At least according to a study from Utah Valley University. The longer one has used Facebook, they found, the more likely he or she is to recall other people’s positive posts: the stunning honeymoon in Greece of a girl you never really knew in high school—and whose last name now looks, well, Greek; a list of very impressive graduate school acceptances, the likes of which prompted one Awl writer to dash off a lesson in Facebook manners. Read More »

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Join Us for Our 2012 Spring Revel

March 6, 2012 | by

Our annual gala, the Spring Revel, brings together writers and friends of the magazine to share in an evening of cocktails, dinner, music, talk, and, all-around revelry. Just last year Women’s Wear Daily called this venerable tradition “the best party in town”—and who are we to argue with WWD?

This year’s going to be especially ... revelrous, because we’re celebrating the two hundredth issue of The Paris Review. Comedian David Cross (Arrested Development, etc.) will give the Terry Southern Prize for Humor. Mona Simpson will give the Plimpton Prize for Fiction. Zadie Smith will present Robert Silvers, cofounder and editor of  The New York Review of Books (and our sometime Paris editor), with the Hadada Prize for a “unique contribution to literature.” Our Benefit Chairs are Chris Hughes, cofounder of Facebook, and his fiancée Sean Eldridge, President of Hudson River Ventures and Senior Adviser at Freedom to Marry.

We’d love to see you there! Tickets and tables are available in The Paris Review’s store.

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On the Shelf

November 16, 2011 | by

A cultural news roundup.

  • Winners of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards.
  • Stephen King helps heat Maine.
  • The real Tintin!
  • The X-Men archive goes to Columbia.
  • Penguin takes the self-publishing leap.
  • The LA Times pubs its first e-book.
  • Meanwhile, authors charge that the Kindle library is “boldly breaching its contracts.
  • In brick-and-mortar news, Ann Patchett opens a bookstore.
  • Wordsworth House (#4) opens in the Lake District.
  • Salman Rushdie fights Facebook, and wins.
  • Writers restock the OWS Library.
  • Speaking of public libraries ...
  • RIP legendary publisher Morris Philipson.
  • “We’ve just lost the Norman Rockwell of comic strips.”
  • Jane Austen ... murdered?
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