ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas


The Psychology Of Massive Multiplayer Online Games and The QAnon Delusions

"The art of creating the connections and building communities of others who also come to believe and amplify them is a virtuous circle that keeps growing and strengthening increasingly wacky beliefs." - Post Alley

A Checklist For Happiness? It Doesn’t Work That Way

"Every cultural message we get is that happiness can be read off a scorecard of money, education, experiences, relationships, and prestige. Want the happiest life? Check the boxes of success and adventure, and do it as early as possible! Then move on to the next set of boxes. She who dies with the most checked boxes wins, right? Wrong. I don’t mean that accomplishment and ambition are bad, but that they are simply not the drivers of our happiness." - The Atlantic

Here’s What The New American Elite Looks Like

"From the American Revolution until the late 20th century, the American elite was divided among regional oligarchies. It is only in the last generation that these regional patriciates have been absorbed into a single, increasingly homogeneous national oligarchy, with the same accent, manners, values, and educational backgrounds from Boston to Austin and San Francisco to New York and Atlanta. This is a truly epochal development." - Tablet

Can Virtual Reality Deliver The Benefits Of Nature?

It's an urgent question for many in lockdown - and in the UK, "whether we are in lockdown or not, four fifths of the UK population lives in an urban environment and one in eight homes do not have a garden."- BBC

The Backstage Details Of That Pandemic Inauguration Gala Spectacular

The producer of the Celebrating America gala had to be very cautious, and very (very) flexible: "Our plans were carved in Jello. Everything was moldable. In a way, it makes it tenfold harder, but in a way it’s a little freeing because you’re not stuck into shoehorning into the things that exist. The pandemic also caused us to figure out how to not draw a crowd and how to build a show without drawing a crowd, which is against every instinct we have." - Variety

Why Love Work? It Doesn’t Love You Back

Over the past few decades, this ethos of cheerless duty has been overtaken by the imperative to love your work. Graduation speakers, human resources departments, and motivational memes keep telling us we ought to merge passion with profession. But work remains stubbornly unlovable. Especially for workers in the United States, the hours are long, wages have not remotely kept up with productivity, and job security is minimal. - The New Republic

Why Conspiracy Theories Are So Attractive

Are conspiracy theories truly more prevalent and influential today, or does it just seem that way? - NiemanLab

The Power Of Jigsaw Puzzles To Put The World Back Together

If maps are representations of a larger reality, then jigsaws are maps too. Indeed, they began life this way, as ‘dissected maps’. Invented by the British cartographer John Spilsbury in the 1760s, the earliest puzzles were designed to make geography lessons more fun for schoolchildren and, no doubt, inculcate them early into the cult of empire. - Psyche

The Culture Of Nothing?

For years, an aesthetic mode of nothingness has been ascendant — a literally nihilistic attitude visible in all realms of culture, one intent on the destruction of extraneity in all its forms, up to and including noise, decoration, possessions, identities and face-to-face interaction. Over the past decade, American consumers have glamorized the pursuit of expensive nothing in the form of emptied-out spaces like the open-floor plans of start-up offices, austere loft-condo buildings and anonymous Airbnbs. - The New York Times

Unhappiness As A Political Act

The focus of the "medicalization of unhappiness" debate was whether unhappiness should be considered a scientific problem. That issue has given way to the "politicization of unhappiness." Whatever unhappiness Americans feel in their private lives has spilled over into the public realm, with ramifications far beyond whether people who take drugs to feel happy should be doing so. - National Affairs

The Different Flavors Of Change

The paradox of change is that while it impacts us on a very subjective, personal level and each of us perceives it very differently, on another level it also unites us because of its universal aspects, aspects that can help us define our common humanity. - 3 Quarks Daily

Is American History As We’ve Been Taught It Wrong? Trump Commission Says So

The commission’s report charges, in terms quickly derided by many mainstream historians, that Americans are being indoctrinated with a false critique of the nation’s founding and identity, including the role of slavery in its history. - The New York Times

Perhaps We’d Be Happier If We Stopped Pursuing Being Happy?

As well as reducing everyday contentment, the constant desire to feel happier can make people feel more lonely. We become so absorbed in our own wellbeing, we forget the people around us – and may even resent them for inadvertently bringing down our mood or distracting us from more “important” goals. - The Guardian

Hey America, Our To-Do Lists Will Never Get Shorter

Well, not in the foreseeable future, anyway, unless we can accept some "okayist" awards instead of trying to be number one all of the damn time. "Two developments that are making a substantial group of Americans busier, Sayer explained, are that a larger share of the country now takes on the combined 'social roles' of worker, spouse, and parent, and that the expectations of each have risen. Increases in busyness, she told me, are a matter of 'both feeling like there’s more feeling that you have to ‘be the best you can be’ in all of the roles, or you’ve failed as a person.'" - The Atlantic

The Stagehands Union Says It’s Time To Let Them Run Mass Vaccine Sites In Now-Empty Performance Spaces

This seems almost too obvious when one considers it. The people who know how to set up almost any kind of venue, run crowd control with various safety protocols, and already showed they can help create field hospitals? "The response to the tweet has been positive with union members chiming in offering their support. 'We REALLY want to help,' wrote one Twitter user, while another suggested using movie studio lots." - Variety

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