Food Fear

“If there’s something we need to cut from our diet, it’s fear,” writes Aaron Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

The most interesting–and disturbing–point raised by Dr. Carroll is about an American antipathy for science in this case. Even if scientists discredit the notion that “gluten-free” food is necessary for everyone, American consumers don’t care. The indifference to science is part of a general anti-intellectual trend that pervades our culture, perhaps since time-immemorial.


We Are a Culture of Being Dumped On

A fascinating view on the diminution of our senses in the 21st century.

Here is a paragraph that stimulates the senses:

As on a dump, stimuli falls on us indiscriminately and haphazardly, with few basic distinctions between the sweet and the salty, the loud and the quiet, the illuminated and the obscure, the aromatic and the odorless, surviving the onslaught. Every subtle thing either grows imperceptible or reaches us as pure matter void of form, an ill-shapen piece or a clumsy lump at the etymological root of “dump.”

Have a Nice Day

American Niceness

A book that is especially relevant in our times.

Niceness, the book notes, Niceness, is a virtue of “surfaces rather than depths.” Of all the qualities that might constitute a national character, it is surely the most passive, the closest to simple indifference. Kindness requires active engagement. Compassion involves some measure of vulnerability. But niceness demands so little. It allows you to turn your back and slip out the door, grabbing your coat and calling out, over your shoulder, the sweet and empty wishes that facilitate so many exits: Sounds good. Take care. Have a nice day.

Teaching Children about Communism

Communism for kids.jpgIn America, the word “communism” is not simply misunderstood but monstrosized, hence radically othered.

M.I.T. Press has recently published a primer on Communism for children. It’s a translation of German scholar Bini Adamczak’s book.

The conservative/alt-right media has, as expected, excoriated the book without perhaps reading it, according to the book’s American translator, Jacob Blumenfeld.

Far from being a wicked endeavor to brainwash children into normalizing genocide, gulag-running, praise Satan and destroy Western civilization (which is an ongoing project undertaken by real Satanic forces anyways), the book, according to Blumenthal is a “critique of of the history of Communism.” But the critique is “immanent” meaning it begins by accepting the premises of what it seeks to criticize.

An immanent critique one could say is the polar opposite of monstrosizing.


An Excoriation of Minimalism


In an eloquently composed essay in the Times Sunday Magazine, Brooklyn-based writer Kyle Chayka writes:

Despite its connotations of absence, “minimalism” has been popping up everywhere lately, like a bright algae bloom in the murk of postrecession America. From tiny houses to microapartments to monochromatic clothing to interior-decorating trends — picture white walls interrupted only by succulents — less now goes further than ever. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the minimalism glut, as the word can be applied to just about anything. The nearly four million images tagged #minimalism on Instagram include white sneakers, clouds, the works of Mondrian, neon signs, crumbling brick walls and grassy fields. So long as it’s stylishly austere, it seems, it’s minimalist.

[…] There’s an arrogance to today’s minimalism that presumes it provides an answer rather than, as originally intended, a question: What other perspectives are possible when you look at the world in a different way? The fetishized austerity and performative asceticism of minimalism is a kind of ongoing cultural sickness. We misinterpret material renunciation, austere aesthetics and blank, emptied spaces as symbols of capitalist absolution, when these trends really just provide us with further ways to serve our impulse to consume more, not less.