The American Reader makes a critique of TED talks and then uses it to bootstrap a critique of cultural criticism itself.
A decent strategy with TED might be to reclaim our teenage capacities and treat these videos as hopelessly passé—ignore them to death. Critiquing them, even as I have done, will do what criticism has done for television: creating an added enjoyment as you go on consuming the crap you despise. I know what I am watching is disgraceful, but aren’t I great at seeing why it’s disgraceful? I only watch it to keep up-to-date with the unwashed masses.Previously, previously, previously
John Powers (of Star Wars: A New Heap) writes The Future of Art: Rosalind Krauss is a Jedi - "If Krauss is Leia, Le Corbusier is a pretty great candidate for General Tarkin." Star Wars Semiotics - "At HiLobrow we’re wary of structuralist heuristic devices. But we do enjoy tinkering with them — and we’ve noticed that the logical expansion of binary oppositions does help stimulate the imagination. However… does Powers’ square function properly?" A Crisis in Criticism: Star Wars is not Literature, it is an Object. - "Glenn's post is good natured and whip smart - but he's dead wrong. While he is no doubt the superior semiotician ... and I can't hope to outsmart the guy, mine is the better diagram." Star Wars Highbrow: Thesis Antithesis Synthesis - "In addition to describing the square above Glenn's original post also discussed his choices for the cardinal points at some length in terms of a "highbrow-lowbrow-middlebrow-nobrow-hilobrow schema." It is a scheme he has charted elsewhere, admitting that "aesthetic and lifestyle choices aren't entirely independent of social class."" [more inside]
Alex Ross writes for the New Yorker: Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and the critique of pop culture.
There was a time when professional bowlers reigned supreme. In the "golden era" of the 1960s and 70s, they made twice as much money as NFL stars, signed million dollar contracts, and were heralded as international celebrities. After each match, they’d be flanked by beautiful women who’d seen them bowl on television, or had read about them in Sports Illustrated. [more inside]
"During his days as Harvard’s influential president, Dr. Charles W. Eliot made a frequent assertion: If you were to spend just 15 minutes a day reading the right books, a quantity that could fit on a five-foot shelf, you could give yourself a proper liberal education. Publisher P. F. Collier and Son loved the idea and asked Eliot to compile and edit the right collection of works. The result: a 51-volume series of classic works from world literature published in 1909 called Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf, which would later be called The Harvard Classics." (Via) [more inside]
Middlebrow: The Taste That Dare Not Speak Its Name. GQ comes to terms with liking things that are popular.