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Posts tagged "The Atlantic"

Another Week Ends: Ancient Riddles, Death by Treadmill, Buzzing Bees, Sad Smartypantses, Physical Dependence, the Rise of the Monotaskers, and How to Burn a Witch According to Radiohead

Another Week Ends: Ancient Riddles, Death by Treadmill, Buzzing Bees, Sad Smartypantses, Physical Dependence, the Rise of the Monotaskers, and How to Burn a Witch According to Radiohead

Click here to listen to this week’s episode of The Mockingcast, which features an interview with author/theologian John Newton.

1. Let’s start with this weird and beautiful story from The Washington Post: “The key to these ancient riddles may lie in a father’s love for his dead son.” For a hundred years, archaeologists have been trying to make sense of an extensive series of ancient Swedish runes which bear the dedication: “In memory of Vämod stand these runes. And Varinn wrote them, the father, in memory of his dead son.” Although many of the riddles that follow seem completely unrelated to this mysterious father/son…

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Don’t Look Now But Your Concept Is Creeping

Don’t Look Now But Your Concept Is Creeping

It’s a pretty common conversation among parents of young children. Clichéd even. Usually starts with a reminiscence about what things were like when we were kids:

“Can’t believe I was allowed to ride my bike to the library by myself when I was 7.”
“In summer I’d leave the house after breakfast and not come back home ’til it was dark”.
“A classmate of mine and I walked to school every day of first grade, no chaperone.”
“When I was a kid, parents weren’t allowed to stay to watch T-Ball practice–and they didn’t want to.”

The next part of the conversation involves indignation about how such actions would…

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From the Archives: The Modern State of The Charming Man

From the Archives: The Modern State of The Charming Man

This was written in light of news that Vince Vaughn was chosen to be the star in a film based on the 1970’s television show The Rockford Files, starring James Garner.

Grant had developed a new way to interact with a woman onscreen: he treated his leading lady as both a sexually attractive female and an idiosyncratic personality, an approach that often required little more than just listening to her—a tactic that had previously been as ignored in the pictures as it remains, among men, in real life. His knowing but inconspicuously generous style let the actress’s performance flourish, making…

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Another Week Ends: Cognitive Dissonance, Internet Addiction, Middle-Aged Mortals, and Unanswered Prayers

Another Week Ends: Cognitive Dissonance, Internet Addiction, Middle-Aged Mortals, and Unanswered Prayers

Update: Accompanying episode of The Mockingcast up on iTunes now!

ONE. On Monday, Mallory Ortberg, founder of The Toast (the-toast.net), posted a video in which she discusses her experience founding a blog. It’s safe to say that we’ve become fans of The Toast here at Mockingbird, and Ortberg’s language in this video, and her transparency, explains why. She speaks in a direct, very honest (and extremely funny) way, reminding us that when we look at the true ridiculousness of everyday life we experience the freedom to laugh at ourselves.

She starts by calling out performancism, the anxiety that accompanies trying to live…

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The “Trigger-Warning” Life

The “Trigger-Warning” Life

Universities have historically always been on the leading edge of American cultural change. The university has, or at least tries to be, the place where new ideas are tested, refined, and put into meaningful action. Today’s college students become tomorrow’s leaders, which is to say that the recent explosion of “trigger warning” policies are not an aberration or fad that can be ignored.

As Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt so astutely outline in their cover story for The Atlantic (see DZ’s take here), the muting of “triggers” from pedagogy is an overt form of censorship of anything that might create unwelcome,…

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Just Cause You Feel It: Emotional Coddling in a Culture of Offense

Just Cause You Feel It: Emotional Coddling in a Culture of Offense

I promise you, I had no intention of writing about this subject again. Not for a long while at least. I’m talking about the whole culture of offense/outrage/oversensitivity/correctness/humorlessness/what-have-you that seems to have overtaken our nation’s universities, and by extension vast swaths of media, social and otherwise. It may be one of the primary places where the thematic rubber is meeting the road (for now), but it doesn’t bring out a terribly hopeful side. And one needs all the optimism one can get, especially at the dawn of a new semester. Or election.

Plus, we’ve already covered most of this stuff at…

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Fifty Shades of Something

Fifty Shades of Something

It’s a Fifty Shades world this week, and we just live in it. Not sure how close attention you’ve been paying to the ‘debate’ surrounding the film, but it’s a fascinating one, touching as it does on a number of our current hot potatoes, most notably sex and gender. Everyone seems to agree that the astronomical number of books (and tickets) sold indicates something larger going on, though no one seems to agree on what that is. Some say the success of the franchise reveals a deep faultline in 21st century bedrooms between Should and Is, between what’s acceptable to want and what is actually wanted, the ideal of egalitarian…

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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.

Midlife Crises and Expectation Gaps

Midlife Crises and Expectation Gaps

As suspected, the cover story for November’s Atlantic Monthly, Jonathan Rauch’s “The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis”, contains more than a handful of relevant tidbits. The article is concerned less with the particulars of sports cars and second marriages and more with the “U-Curve of Happiness”–the phenomenon reported across countries, cultures and even species(!) of self-reported wellbeing dipping significantly in one’s 40s, and rising in one’s 50s and 60s, often peaking during one’s 70s. Rauch makes a terrific guide through all the research and theorizing, along the way telling us his own story of mid-life discontent. There are plenty of things…

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Another Week Ends: American Immortals, Henry James, U2charists, Authentic Nerdists, AWK Prays, and Reclusive Deities

Another Week Ends: American Immortals, Henry James, U2charists, Authentic Nerdists, AWK Prays, and Reclusive Deities

1. Part and parcel of the juvenilization we touched on earlier this week is the phenomenon UPenn bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel (best name ever?!) describes as “the American immortal”, that not-so-peculiar species that devotes so much of its time/energy to prolonging life that it kills them (often before they die). Surprise surprise–underneath the aversion to growing up may lurk a denial of human limitation which is ultimately a denial of death. In the latest bit of watercooler bait from The Atlantic, “Why I Hope To Die at 75”, Emanuel challenges the notion of “compression of morbidity”, the widespread presumption that the…

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Over-Confident Men and Underestimating Women: Some Thoughts on Shame and Leadership

Over-Confident Men and Underestimating Women: Some Thoughts on Shame and Leadership

Back in May I read an article in the Atlantic Monthly that rocked me. “The Confidence Gap” addressed the gaping hole of women in top leadership positions. I read it expecting the usual issues: poor math scores, smaller salaries, always feeling behind everyone else. And certainly, this article provided plenty of those sad and disappointing assessments.

As a woman, some of the information was also incredibly helpful. We do not take chances the way men do. We underestimate ourselves. Culture’s need to shape us into “good girls” does permanent damage when it comes to necessary risk taking. But the thing that bothered…

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Another Week Ends: Biblical Counseling, Jennifer Lawrence, God Help the Girl, Volunteer Pallbearers, Sly Stone and The Nobodies

Another Week Ends: Biblical Counseling, Jennifer Lawrence, God Help the Girl, Volunteer Pallbearers, Sly Stone and The Nobodies

1. Over at The Pacific Standard, Kathryn Joyce provides a remarkably thorough look at “The Rise of Biblical Counseling”. It’s a crash course in both the history of conflicted Christian attitudes toward psychotherapy, and, unintentionally perhaps, how those attitudes are perceived by secular elites (i.e. with disdain and/or condescension). She surveys a field which runs the gamut from hardliners who would chalk nearly all mental illness up to sinful behavior (and do untold damage in the process) and more moderate, medication-endorsing voices who have the gall to insist that there may be a spiritual and–gasp!–moral component to certain afflictions, or at least, that we ignore such…

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