Recommendations for November 26, 2012

Attempting to get these back on something close to a regular schedule. Here goes:
Article: “The Love You Save: Lessons On Water And Stuff” by Linda Holmes
Really heartfelt, lovely piece about our relationship to material things. Linda Holmes’s apartment flooded during Hurricane Sandy, and a lot of her stuff was ruined. The piece is about the conflict between the rational sense that, yes, on one level, it is just stuff, and the emotional fact that sometimes stuff is more than stuff. As someone who tends to attribute sentimental value to almost everything, I found this really moving.
Article: “I Really Like That You Like What I Like: When Did the Internet Get So Nice” by Nathan Heller
Picking up, implicitly, on a theme suggested by Jacob Silverman’s article in Slate about the tendency of Twitter, etc. to become affirmation machines, possibly subverting literary criticism (which I posted back in September, and which you can read here), Heller here argues that, as the number of internet users has expanded beyond the original core of anti-social geeks who reveled in anonymity, internet behavior has, in general, become much nicer, much less free-wheeling, and much less hostile. Moreover, he suggests, internet fora tend to police themselves, punishing wrongdoers by calling them out; he uses the recent outing of Reddit’s Violentakrez (which I also posted about earlier, and which you can read about here) as an example. I don’t totally buy this argument— once glance at the comment boards following almost any article about anything on the internet provides plenty of evidence that there is plenty of irrational spleen ready to be vented. But the sociological claim here— that as the internet becomes less the home of a particular set of subcultures and more the home of, well, culture, the behavior that characterizes it must change as well is an interesting and, to me, hopeful one. 
Article: “The Laughing Indian” by Lindsey Catherine Cornum
A review of Sherman Alexie’s latest story collection, notable mainly because it is deeply critical. As Cornum notes, almost nobody publishes negative reviews of Alexie (Silverman again?), and in particular reviewers tend to take it for granted that his work presents an “alternative” perspective on Native Americans. Cornum complicates this assumption, arguing that while Alexie’s Indians may not be quite like the traditional, Last of the Mohicans-style stoic Noble Savage, they still tend to reinforce stereotypes about Native Americans rather than the reverse. I haven’t read enough of Sherman Alexie’s stuff to say whether I agree with her entirely or not, but I think an intelligent critique of what seems to be the consensus position is worthwhile in any case.
Article: “Japan’s Ninjas Headed for Extinction” by Mariko Oi
Or is that just what they want us to think?
Song: “Cherry” by Chromatics
I came around to the Chromatics album Kill for Love pretty late (mostly because it took forever to come to Spotify), but it is really good, and this is a new song very much in the same vein as the stuff on the album. It reminds me a lot of the band Lush at their best, and my sorrow at their (now long-ago) dissolution is eased somewhat by these guys.
  

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