The Paris Review Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Kim Kardashian’

Keep Smiling

February 20, 2014 | by

For the origins of the selfie, look to the dandy.

Honoré_Daumier_-_Dandy

Honoré Daumier, Dandy, oil on canvas, 1871.

When selfie was crowned the Word of 2013 by the Oxford Dictionaries, the media reaction ranged from apocalyptic to cautiously optimistic. For the Calgary Herald’s Andrew Cohen, “selfie culture” represents the “critical mass” of selfish entitlement; for Navneet Alang in the Globe and Mail, selfies are inextricable from the need for self-expression, a “reminder of what it means to be human.” For the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland, the selfie is both: at once “the ultimate emblem of the age of narcissism” and a function of the “timeless human need to connect.”

With a few exceptions, commentators tended to converge on one point: the selfie, and the unencumbered act of self-creation it represents, is unmistakably of our time, shorthand for a whole host of cultural tropes wedded to the era of the smartphone. As Jennifer O’Connell, writing for the Irish Times, puts it: “It’s hard to think of a more appropriate—or more depressing—symbol of the kind of society we have become. We are living in an age of narcissism, an age in which only our best, most attractive, most carefully constructed selves are presented to the world.”

But our obsession with the power of self-creation—and its symbiotic relationship with the technology that makes it possible—is hardly new. Even the “selfie artist” is hardly a creation of 2013. Its genesis isn’t in the iPhone, but in the painted portrait: not among the Twitterati, but among the silk-waistcoated dandies of nineteenth-century Paris. Read More »

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Dear Joan Holloway, Was It Something I Said?

May 31, 2012 | by

Dear Joan,

Just wanted to check in, as I can’t help but feel slightly responsible for your actions in this week’s episode. I thought these letters from the future would do you all some good, providing twenty/twenty hindsight into your blindingly Day-Glo historical moment. But Doc Brown was right: messing with the past can alter the future in unexpected ways. Matthew Weiner and company thrive on this very notion; they’ve remodeled the mid-sixties into an era in which cigarettes don’t cause cancer, and the advertising industry is the pinnacle of glamour, filled with beautiful people in beautiful clothes making eyes at each other across rooms then retreating into bedrooms with beautiful bed frames for bouts of steamy congress in which panties always match the bra, and a woman can achieve orgasm just by inhaling Don’s smoky musk.

No surprise, then, that here in 2012 we’ve gone gaga over sixties style, sporting skinny ties and summer plaids, puffing cigs like we’re unaware of science, and ruining perfectly healthy marriages because, according to Pete Campbell’s friend from the commuter train, variety is the spice of life. We should probably all reread Richard Yates. Maybe it was wrong to tease you with a glimpse into third-wave feminism when the second wave is only now breaking against your shoreline.

But don’t think I’m judging you.Read More »

2 COMMENTS

On the Shelf

November 2, 2011 | by

A cultural news roundup.

  • The International literary community rallies around an imprisoned Turkish publisher and activist.
  • Steve Jobs tops the best-seller list.
  • Rebecca ... the musical!
  • Heart of Darkness ... the opera!
  • Blue Nights ... the movie!
  • Lisbeth Salander ... the clothing line?
  • Salman Rushdie on Kim Kardashian. On Twitter. In limerick.
  • Speaking of strange bedfellows: Groucho Marx and T. S. Eliot.
  • J. K. Rowling considered killing off Ron “out of sheer spite.”
  • Speaking of spite, Didion vs. Kael.
  • Awesome people reading.
  • 3 COMMENTS