ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas


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

Why Conspiracy Theories Are So Attractive To So Many

Experts say that the majority of people do not easily fall for falsehoods. But when misinformation offers simple, casual explanations for otherwise random events, “it helps restore a sense of agency and control for many people,” says Sander van der Linden, a social psychologist at the University of Cambridge. - National Geographic

The Wrenching Realities Of Gentrification

Gentrification is one of the most pressing – and polarising – issues confronting cities today. In popular discussions, defenders of gentrification tend to paint it as an influx of badly needed capital into blighted urban areas... Critics view gentrification as a quasi-colonial invasion of the privileged into economically vulnerable communities. - Aeon

Global Culture? It Won’t Really Ever Happen

"Populations across the globe today may devour Starbucks, KFC, and Coca-Cola. They may enjoy Italian opera, French couture, and Persian carpets. But no matter how many exotic influences each absorbs or what foreign connections they make, nations don’t just fade away. They retain their citizens’ fierce devotion." - Nautilus

Needed: A Historic Plan For Rebuilding The Arts In America

The Biden campaign promised that America could “build back better,” and throughout 2020 the president-elect extolled F.D.R.’s New Deal as a blueprint for American renewal. For the administration to show that sort of Rooseveltian resolve — and, with control of the Senate, it just about can — it’s going to have to put millions of Americans on the federal payroll: among them artists, musicians and actors, tasked to restore a battered nation. - The New York Times

What We Need Is Artificial Intelligence That Explains Itself

A computer that masters protein folding and also tells researchers more about the rules of biology is much more useful than a computer that folds proteins without explanation. - The Conversation

The Important Privilege Of Being An Absolute Beginner

"For most of us, the beginner stage is something to be got through as quickly as possible, like a socially awkward skin condition. But even if we’re only passing through, we should pay particular attention to this moment. For once it goes, it’s hard to get back." - The Guardian

The Philosophy Of Wine? But Of Course…

"Not content to simply establish the origins of our belief systems, philosophers focus on the evidence that supports our belief systems and whether we have good reasons to believe what we believe, which requires an inquiry into what exactly counts as a good reason. In other words, philosophers think about thinking and try to develop concepts that help us think more clearly." - 3 Quarks Daily

Conformers Or Weirdos? What We Know About How People Think

"Unlike much of the world today – and most people who have ever lived – Weird people are highly individualistic, self-obsessed, guilt-ridden and analytical in their thinking style. They focus on themselves – their attributes, accomplishments and aspirations – over relationships and roles. When reasoning, Weird people tend to look for abstract categories with which to organise the world. They simplify complex phenomena by breaking them down into discrete elements and assigning properties – whether by imagining types of particles, pathogens or personalities." - BBC

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