Twitterese

It is remarkable how uniform and homogenous the style of writing is on Twitter, which is where media culture is defined. It seemingly hasn’t evolved in a decade. Condescending, sarcastic, amused that you would think to say something so dumb, endlessly superior, contemptuous of all sincere values except the one being used as a bludgeon in the fight at hand. Absurdist in an entirely prescriptive way, novel in a tired way, funny in a humorless way. All of it is a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of a strange and highly mannered form of humor that flourished in an obscure offshoot of an internet forum which migrated to a bigger platform and metastasized into something called Weird Twitter, and was subsequently popularized and imitated so frequently it took over the forum completely. For reasons that elude me, it’s been the dominant style on the world’s most influential social network for going on a decade and appears often in published commentary as well.

From Freddie deBoer’s writing guide “If You Absolutely Must”

Set apart

To call the preacher an authority does not mean that the preacher is wiser than others. What it does mean is that the preacher is the one whom the congregation sends on their behalf, week after week, to the scripture. The church knows that its life depends upon hearing the truth of God’s promise and claim through the scripture, and it has set the preacher apart for the crucial activity of going to the scripture to listen for that truth.

Thomas G. Long

“Crucial activity.” Nice play on words there.

Keeping Up with the Times

The complex reality of the technologies that real companies leverage to get ahead emphasizes the absurdity of the now common idea that exposure to simplistic, consumer-facing products—especially in schools—somehow prepares people to succeed in a high-tech economy. Giving students iPads or allowing them to film homework assignments on YouTube prepares them for a high-tech economy about as much as playing with Hot Wheels would prepare them to thrive as auto mechanics.

Cal Newport, Deep Work

Elon Musk’s Twitter

Here is no waste,
No burning Might-have been,
No bitter after-taste,
None to censure, none to screen,
Nothing awry, nor anything misspent;
Only content, content beyond content,
Which hath not any room for betterment.

Maurice Baring

Hold the emotion, thanks

I got to make my heist film with Gene Hackman. Like many of the stars in the above-instanced works, he is an actual tough guy. Lee Marvin was a marine commando in the Pacific, Hayden in the Adriatic. Hackman was a China marine, racecar driver, stunt pilot, deep-sea diver.

These men, and their performances, are characterised by the absence of the desire to please. On screen, they don’t have anything to prove, and so we are extraordinarily drawn to them.

They are not “sensitive”, they are not anti-heroes. They are, to use a historic term, “he-men”. How refreshing.

There will always be the same number of movie stars. There is a table of operations, and the vacant places must be filled, as with politicians, irrespective of the distinction of the applicant pool.

But I vote for the tone of a less sentimental time. Look at the photographs in the family collection, of dad or granddad during the war, or the Depression. We see individuals captured in a moment in their lives, not portraying themselves for the camera. I used to look at them and think one didn’t see those faces today.

I saw them on September 11. I was in the air when the bombings took place, flying back to Boston from the Toronto film festival. We landed at a small commercial aviation field. A customs officer escorted us to a room, where a group of pilots and passengers watched the immediate aftermath on television.

I had never seen faces like that in my life. They were so intent, resolved, completely unsentimental, trying to make sense of a disordered and a very dangerous world; as were the men and women who created the genre of film noir, to which I respectfully submit my addition.

David Mamet

The Subterfuge of Realism

Admitted fantasy is precisely the kind of literature which never deceives at all. Children are not deceived by fairy-tales; they are often and gravely deceived by school-stories. Adults are not deceived by science-fiction; they can be deceived by the stories in the women’s magazines. None of us are deceived by the Odyssey, the Kalevala, Beowulf, or Malory. The real danger lurks in sober-faced novels where all appears to be very probable but all is in fact contrived to put across some social or ethical or religious or anti-religious ‘comment on life.

C. S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism

An Everlasting Meal

If cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality, aioli is garlic and egg’s collective shot at the firmament.

Tamar Adler

On Ritual

The idea of an elaborate ritual is an oxymoron because a ritual is by definition a simplified encapsulation of a larger full experience of life.

Jim Jordan

What To Memorize

There is nothing that it is better to commit to memory than those kinds of words and phrases whose meaning we do not know, so that where we happen to meet either with a more learned man of whom we can inquire, or with a passage that shows, either by the preceding or succeeding context, or by both, the force and significance of the phrase we are ignorant of, we can easily by the help of our memory turn our attention to the matter and learn all about it.

St. Augustine, On Christian Teaching

A Different Way of Seeing

One day, on impulse, I asked the students to copy a Picasso drawing upside down. That small experiment, more than anything else I had tried, showed that something very different is going on during the act of drawing. To my surprise, and to the students’ surprise, the finished drawings were so extremely well done that I asked the class, “How come you can draw upside down when you can’t draw right-side up?” The students responded, “Upside down, we didn’t know what we were drawing.” This was the greatest puzzlement of all and left me simply baffled.

Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain