Identity

Not Ideas About Love But the Thing Itself: A Review of Birdman

Not Ideas About Love But the Thing Itself: A Review of Birdman

This is the epigraph that shows in the opening credits of Birdman, and it’s also the real-life epitaph on Raymond Carver’s tombstone. It serves as a good starting point for a movie that basically seconds as an adaptation for Carver’s famous short story, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” But it’s also a good starting point for Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton), aka “Birdman,” ex-superhero-of-the-nineties, awash in irrelevance amidst a bigger, newer wave of Marvel stars.

Ethan Hawke on Acting Out the Death of Self

Ethan Hawke on Acting Out the Death of Self

The tenable success of independent films in an industry dominated by major Hollywood productions has become a hot topic as the 87th Academy Awards make their approach. The pulse of this conversation exists entirely because of two names: Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater. With six Oscar nominations between the two of them just this year, and eleven all time, Anderson and Linklater have become the godfathers of the indie family, maturing the clan into planet Hollywood’s lunar necessity.

The praise is proper, but not necessarily sought; at least not in the same way that, say, George Lucas sought success after 1977. Setting up…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Joshua Chapter Six Verses One Through Five

Hopelessly Devoted: Joshua Chapter Six Verses One Through Five

This morning’s devotion comes to us from Sean Norris.

Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out and none came in. And the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before…

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Another Week Ends: More PC, Orthorexia, Perfect Ripostes, Grace in Addiction in Asheville, SBTB Redivivus, and Implausible Pop-Country Songs

Another Week Ends: More PC, Orthorexia, Perfect Ripostes, Grace in Addiction in Asheville, SBTB Redivivus, and Implausible Pop-Country Songs

1. One subject that’s been on our minds lately is political correctness, the orthodoxy of speech by which the progressives are divided from the bigots. It’s a division almost as absolute as that between righteous and sinners, and the press and universities – places supposed to be bastions of the liberal ideal of open speech – have instead been on the forefront of the new censorship. Fredrick deBoer, a leftist activist and grad student at Purdue, weighs in:

I have seen, with my own two eyes, a 19 year old white woman — smart, well-meaning, passionate — literally run crying from a classroom…

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From The Atlantic: America’s Existential Crisis, as Illustrated by Super Bowl Ads

You really shouldn’t miss Sophie Gilbert’s thoughts over at The Atlantic on this year’s Super Bowl ads. She quite perceptively demonstrates how these commercials seem to be, more than ever, playing on our nationwide anxiety. She writes,

America, judging by the Super Bowl XLIX advertisements, is suffering through the kind of existential crisis that only God’s iPhone, Marshawn Lynch’s Skittles, and a car with an erection can heal. America is hangry. America can’t sleep. America is very, very worried about getting old and irrelevant and physically stuck on the couch shouting at a football game while other, younger countries are going to super-cool Pac Man parties and flipping tires over for no discernible reason and seducing elderly wives in leopard-print camisoles. America might think this identity breakdown can be solved by buying a Chevy Colorado, which is focus group-proven to make people more attractive than, say, a simple Prius, but America is wrong. The hurt is on the inside. No truck-shaped penis extension can fix it.

She concludes,

[R]emember that, deep down, unless they face off against a wolf for you, they’re only cars/beers/extreme workouts. They aren’t love.

Gilbert reminds us that though these marketable goods might promise to make us “more human” (as Reebok would put it), closing the gap between our actual selves and our desired selves, they are powerless to bestow anything. So deep is the universal identity-crisis that we might just need a divine rescue.

Read the whole thing here.

On Stages and Sincerity

On Stages and Sincerity

I have always beheld celebrity culture with a varying mixture of admiration and disdain, and both of those reactions are kicked into high gear during January and February, or what the industry regards as the culmination of awards season.

Just as the divinely-drenched (or -devoid, depending on preference) holiday weeks come to an end, Hollywood begins a series of convocations at hotels, theaters, and convention centers (and one attempt at beach-swept nonchalance) aimed at recognizing and rewarding the creative entities behind film and television. In other words, they congratulate themselves for all they’ve accomplished over the past year, and we common…

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How Did We Get Back to 1991?

How Did We Get Back to 1991?

One of the themes we’ve been exploring these past few months in our weekend columns, as well as a few isolated posts, is the palpable rise in censoriousness that has been making itself felt on social media and in certain higher education settings. According to voices on all sides of the ideological equation, a resurgent devotion to “political correctness” is creating a situation where the institutions charged with promoting open dialogue in a liberal society–academia and journalism–are in fact squashing it.

Chris Rock described the state of things memorably in his recent interview with New York Magazine, admitting that he refuses…

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The Chameleon’s Cult of Intensive Motherhood

The Chameleon’s Cult of Intensive Motherhood

I had the privilege to interview Brigid Schulte for our next issue of the magazine (out the doors in the next month!), The Work and Play Issue. Schulte, who is a columnist at the Washington Post and author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time, is also a mother, a busy mother, who found herself entwined a life that was bordering on madness. Her book is the story of coming to grips with this modern busyness–a busyness she found was more universal than just her, just mothers, or even just women. Instead, she found that,…

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Running For Cover: The Unbearable Weight of Goodness in Broadchurch

Running For Cover: The Unbearable Weight of Goodness in Broadchurch

This one comes to us from Nick Rynerson:

Before we get into it, let’s have a quick chat. Nick here. Hey. If you haven’t watched the first season of Broadchurch don’t read this yet. Seriously. Stop. The show is on Netflix right now. Borrow your friend’s password and binge-watch it! It’s only eight episodes. Go on! Get! It’s not that I don’t want you to read this. It’s just that I’m pretty much going to ruin the ending of season one, and it’s a doozy.

Sometimes I wonder why I write. I usually feel guilty after I write something for publications that…

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Kobe Bryant and Urban Meyer – Two Alpha Males Pass in the Night

Kobe Bryant and Urban Meyer – Two Alpha Males Pass in the Night

Kobe Bryant and Urban Meyer – two guys at the top of their sports professions earlier this century (both leading their teams to multiple championships) – were in the news these past few weeks. Meyer, of course, on Monday night became only the 8th coach in NCAA history with three or more National Championships.  This was certainly the most improbable of the three as his Ohio State Buckeyes (behind a 3rd string QB) manhandled Oregon by 3+ touchdowns. Meanwhile over at Grantland, Brian Phillips wrote a definitive piece on the downward trajectory of NBA icon Kobe Bryant (h/t DZ).

Prior to…

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Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Judas: A Biblical Take on FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) – Ethan Richardson

Here it comes, ladies and gents, Dr. Richardson’s wonderful session from Houston. No more missing out!

As a reminder, the last day to take advantage of earlybird pre-registration for our New York Conference (4/16-18) is this Friday!

From The Onion: Career-Driven Man Beginning To Worry Entire Identity No Longer Tied To Job

familymanNEW YORK–In an alarming shift of mindset that is said to have occurred so gradually that he failed to notice it at first, Westport Data Systems senior manager and career-driven man Matthew Bowers expressed concern Friday that his identity was no longer exclusively tied to his job. “I always saw myself as a high-performance individual who was focused solely on working my way up to VP, but lately I’ve been worried that I may be developing aspects of my personality that have nothing to do with climbing the corporate ladder,” said Bowers, 42, noting that he has recently observed in himself an “unhealthy” level of preoccupation with personal interests, activities, and relationships that can in no way give him a leg up professionally. “Just the other day, I was telling my boss about my son’s soccer game—at work, mind you—and he responded by calling me ‘a real family man.’ My boss called me that. It was a huge wake-up call.”…

Read the whole thing here.