- “Whence comes relatability? A hundred years ago, if someone said something was relatable, she meant that it could be told—the Shakespearean sense of relate—or that it could be connected to some other thing. As recently as a decade ago, even as relatable began to accrue its current meaning, the word remained uncommon. The contemporary meaning of relatable—to describe a character or a situation in which an ordinary person might see himself reflected—first was popularized by the television industry … But to reject any work because we feel that it does not reflect us in a shape that we can easily recognize—because it does not exempt us from the active exercise of imagination or the effortful summoning of empathy—is our own failure. It’s a failure that has been dispiritingly sanctioned by the rise of relatable.”
- And for a certain audience, video games are all too relatable. They begin to impinge on reality, an occurrence that scientists call game transfer phenomena: “I used to play [Tetris] for hours every day. When I went to bed I would see falling blocks as I closed my eyes. I often experienced the same thing when waking up … a female video game player [was] suffering from delusions of being persecuted, exhibiting violent behavior and experiencing constant imaginary auditory hallucinations triggered by the music of the Super Mario Brothers video game.”
- How do Hollywood studios create so much prop money for their movies without being detained as counterfeiters? (And why don’t we do the same?)
- MFA vs. NYC = MFA vs. DMV. My personal favorite: the “Widening Gyre” road sign. New drivers always miss those.
- The German film theorist Harun Farocki has died at seventy. His best-known work is probably The Inextinguishable Fire, from 1969: “In the film’s most famous moment, the camera dollies in on Farocki—who has just finished reading a napalm victim’s report out loud—as he puts out his cigarette on his arm, explaining that napalm burns at seven times the temperature.”
Twice this week, I was stood up. In both cases there were extenuating circumstances, attempts to communicate, and sincere apologies—which I had no trouble accepting. The truth is, I didn’t mind; the truth is, I love waiting.
Good thing, because I’m writing this from the DMV, an institution that brings us as close as we can come to Limbo, now that Limbo is no more. I can’t seem to find a pattern in the numbers being called, but I have no reason to believe mine will come anytime soon. And this is profoundly relaxing.
I have a friend who has talked about “the power of being early.” This is debatable—if anything, it’s the person who keeps another waiting who wields a certain power—but it’s certainly true that, once you’re waiting, you have surrendered control, which, as any yoga teacher will tell you, is paradoxically empowering.I am struck by how relaxed everyone is in this DMV. The air-conditioning is on high; someone else is running things; there is a pleasant feeling of solidarity. As Milton said, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” And he knew a thing or two about Limbo—if not the DMV.