Lileks at his profound best.
While most blogs weren’t deathless examples of great writing, there was the opportunity for individualism, and you don’t get that from a Pinterest page. You don’t get it from a feed of things snipped and reblogged and pinned and shoveled into The Feed. The web turns into bushels of confetti shoveled into a jet engine, and while something does emerge out the other end, it’s usually made impressive by its velocity and volume, not the shape it makes.
All web sites are becoming the same web site. They look the same, they swipe the same, they beg you for subscriptions the same. The noise has become so great that I took February off of social media and I haven’t missed Facebook once. Not. Even. Once.
Content is King, we are told. But the rat at which the content is consumed seems to make the consumption the point rather than the content itself. I can read a thousand articles on Medium in a day; how many of them will really stick with me?
The same can be true of blogs, of course, but whenever I found a blog I liked, I almost always wanted to read everything that they had. Whereas I couldn’t remember the name of anyone who’s “written” any Buzzfeed listicle I’ve gif’ed through if you paid me.
The medium is becoming the message. Which bodes not well, now that the FCC has made it a public utility.
James Lileks says good-bye to his beloved Jasper, and as someone who still remembers fondly the dog of his youth (McGee, Bane of Moles, Scoffer at Chain-Link Fences), I was moved beyond the capacity to write anything useful in response. And what’s the point anyway? Everyone who’s had a dog understands; no one else could fathom. So I’ll let C.S. Lewis do it for me:
Is that not how the higher thing always raises the lower? A mother teachers her baby to talk by talking to it as if it understood long before it really does. We treat our dogs as if they were ‘almost human’: that is why they really become ‘almost human’ in the end.
Mere Christianity, Chapter 7
A few things to read that other people wrote:
Finally, this guy worked very hard to reverse the gender roles of Donkey Kong so his daughter could play as Pauline (and if you knew that the girl in Donkey Kong was called Pauline, you know way more than I did about Donkey Kong)
Lileks smacks around the tech scribes, weedy dweebs that they are:
I don’t trust any sources that uses “Teens” as a category. What the 19-year old finds interesting is different than what the 13-year-old wants. Half the economy consists of catering to the various differences between 15 and 18. So when we hear that “Teens Sour on Apple,” I think someone’s trying to get ahead of the Apple-is-over story before it becomes conventional wisdom.
Note: people interested in that eternally fascinating comment thread subject, Why I Hate That Platform You Like, are encouraged to head right to comments and start talking about “fanbois” and “Kool-aid.” Make sure you spell Microsoft with a dollar sign!
Whatever the hell melon cat is…
There’s a cusp of time between when you believe that you set the trends, and when you know that you don’t. I passed it a long time ago. I’m even passed the point where I hate trends. I have acheived that wonderous moment when you treat trends like the weather; they come, they go, they’re all kind of the same.
Meet The New Kids on The One Direction Down the Backstreet! Or whatever.
Duller than a great thaw is Vertigo, hurdling contrivance upon contrivance with such impossible conveyance of thought that one watches it like a man at a mark, praying that the firing squad kills you straight off. And while the preceding bastardization of Much Ado About Nothing is entirely too pretentious to be clever, it’s still less pretentious and more clever than Vertigo. Anyway, here’s Lileks:
But suspenseful? Not really. The filthy, dirty, ugly “Frenzy” has ten times the nail-biting quotient. Humor? None. It’s soaked with obsession, which means it’s serious. Look: “Rear Window,” my favorite Hitchcock movie, is also about obsession, in a way – but it’s intellectual, questioning, deducing. And it’s overflowing with life and characters and subplots, most of which we never see in detail. Technically, it’s magnificent – much more so than “Vertigo.” Everything in it is believable. Most everything in “Vertigo” is hokum.
It’s as though Hitch decided in the wake of Psycho that if an audience will sit through a plot-shift, they’ll sit through a shift to no plot. He was wrong. Psycho works because after investing an hour into Janet Leigh, we want to see her killing punished, or at least explained. You don’t get very far into the third act of Vertigo before you realize that nothing is going to be punished or explained.
My choice for the greatest movie would be “Casablanca” – the easy, popular, ordinary choice, yes. But quick: quote me one line from “Vertigo.” Find me a minute in “Vertigo” that has the visual ingenuity of “Kane” or the dramatic tautness of “Casablanca.”
“Jaws” is better. “Metropolis” is better. “The Great Escape” is better. Hell, “From Russia With Love” is better.
Let’s milk it, shall we?
Top Ten Commercially Successful Films Which Are Better Than Vertigo:
10. Lord of the Rings
9. The Dark Knight
7. Schindler’s List
6. True Grit (original version)
5. The Maltese Falcon
4. The Empire Strikes Back
3. The Godfather
2. The Longest Day
1. Pulp Fiction
And that’s off the top of my head.
I’ve always rather liked The Great Gatsby, because I find Fitzgerald’s prose far better than any of the other Greats of the Roaring Twenties, especially Hemingway, who reads the way sawdust tastes, and Faulkner, who seemed to think that Henry James wasn’t quite loquacious enough. F. Scott never forgot that writing serves the story.
However, I can’t argue with this:
I don’t hold Gatsby as some sort of Iconic Figure of the times. I never felt any sorrow for Gatsby, because Daisy bored me. Yes, yes, I realize that she was supposed to represent something, just as he was, just as the light across the water was, just as the big enormous eyeglasses represent Fate or the prevailing moral sense or conscience or whatever you please. It’s a good book. It’s a great book. It spoke to the dreams and fears of a society that was suddenly flush and young and bent on fun. It was a Cautionary Tale. It channeled the romantic flush of one’s early twenties into a story that mistook those passions for tragic signifiers of the human condition in general, and the American experience in particular.
That’s just it: Daisy’s voice is full of money, and that’s about it. It’s not just that she’s a bad person; there’s no there there. She does not act, nor engage, nor say anything of note. She is an object, a Golden Fleece with one two many Jasons in the hunt. The nice guy loses. The end.
But will I see the movie with DiCaprio? Probably. It can’t be worse than the Redford version, which is indeed “gauzy and inert”. I’ve rather liked DiCaprio’s work of late, from The Aviator forward (Revolutionary Road excluded). But the story has that touch more ambition than its structure can carry (how meta), which is why it always feels murdered at the end.