Globalization has not made (nor can it ever make) a uniform, universal culture, but, in 2019, is it truly possible to conceive of a city or town or neighborhood functioning as a thriving cultural space with a relatively firm cultural boundary?
I’m not sure that it is, at least not in the technologically developed world. In this, the Internet Age, culture is more complicated and ephemeral than ever. As we now have the luxury of building communities beyond those in our physical vicinity, we now belong to overlapping communities, many of them virtual. Even when culture now has some kind of physical, localized manifestation, it is the expression not of a singular, geographical culture, but functions as a shared reference point between overlapping, decentralized cultures.
Celebrity is an inherently toxic phenomenon, but YouTube celebrity is one of its worst manifestations.
It’s a form of celebrity for which “selling out” is effectively impossible, because it is a kind of celebrity that can only come into being through the mechanics of “selling out.”
Mount Vesuvius in Eruption by J.M.W. Turner, 1817
I become very sentimental when Christmas arrives, and I say that without shame. There is so much else in the world that invites me to embrace cynicism and it’s a relief to be pulled away from that.
Christmas is a holiday that extends from the hope that transcendence might enter the human sphere, that our existence might not be defined by entropy.
I wish you all a very merry Christmas.
Madonna of the Dry Tree by Petrus Christus, c. 1462–1465
Paul Verlaine, Bibi-la-Purée et Stéphane Mallarmé at the Café Procope by Serafino Macchiati, 1890
The Fall of the Damned by Peter Paul Rubens, ca. 1620