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
Whenever we discuss the experience of “reading” as we recognize it today, it is always important to keep in mind that we recognize as “reading” is a relatively young phenomena in the history of humanity, one that only exists because of the technological invention of the book. What past civilizations understood by “reading” often looked very different (and, it should be noted, literacy itself was generally the domain only of the privileged).
Still, I find my affection for sustained reading experiences–by which I mean focused reading for thirty minutes or an hour without interruption–growing deeper in our age of sensory onslaught. If reading does not exist in opposition to what we think of “technology” (indeed, the technologies of our age are very reading-dependent), sustained reading, whether you do it on a codex or a Kindle, forces us into a different mode of engagement than many of the technological structures we utilize and inhabit on a daily basis, structures that are designed to distract through stimulation. In a world of seemingly endless noise, sustained reading increasingly feels like a respite.