Reading: 27 January-2 February 2013

From Tyler Peckio, Zeteo Contributor

28 January 2013
Hollywood loses the plot

Every Thursday for the past month myself, and a few friends from my undergraduate studies, meet up and discuss an agreed upon book. We always make an effort, no matter how abstract the content is, to establish connections between the material and our current lives (whether in an existential, political, economical, or societal way). Philosophical material should be read as a living, breathing, constantly evolving thing—not as something existing in a vacuum. It provides a point of view from which we can frame and understand our existence in this world. The Dialectic of Enlightenment by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer (the book we’ve been reading) dedicates a section of their text to the concept of the ‘culture industry’. This article (which actually references them specifically) got us thinking about the quality of film and art that we consume. The article, and the book, raise the question of whether or not we still have the capacity to think critically about what we ingest socially. This quote in particular I enjoyed:

The psychopathological prevalence of conspiracy theories in the United States stems from the fact that the vision of reality that Hollywood wishes to project does not make sense and in the absence of any mainstream critical discourse imaginative dissent assumes bizarre pathological dimensions. Either docile and content or else pathologically suspicious and conspiratorial becomes the two available options. Under these circumstances critical dissent is either pathologised or else criminalised – by way of paving the main discourse for docile consent or delusional conspiracies. The global opening of critical discourse has put an effective end to this sad state of affairs in the United States and alternative discourses are emerging to which Americans as all others have recourse, and thus liberated from that culture industry.

29 January 2013

Sometimes, I get this overwhelming feeling that the internet is peering into my daily conversations and places articles in the path of my daily “surfing”‘ routine.  For reasons not worth delving into at this current juncture, I found myself discussing the topic of raising children and education. I always like reading firsthand teacher accounts of their dealings with student/parent relations, and this article brings in an interesting insight. Parent or not, this article gives food for thought about your ability to take failure, rejection, and constructive criticism in stride. One line in particular struck me as great because I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently; I suppose this is what happens when you’re 25 years old

Every year, I reassure some parent, “This setback will be the best thing that ever happened to your child,” and I’ve long since accepted that most parents won’t believe me. That’s fine. I’m patient. The lessons I teach in middle school don’t typically pay off for years, and I don’t expect thank-you cards.

 

30 January 2013

It’s a funny thing how day-to-day conversations with friends can spark your memory about books you once read and the passages you found interesting. People often develop conceptions of “who you are” that don’t necessarily jive with how you conceive yourself. You almost get the feeling that other people’s conceptions exist outside of you and carry a set of expectations. Talking about this immediately brought to mind a short story I read by Jorge Luis Borges called “Borges and I”. The last line hits the nail on the head when he states “I do not know which one of us has written this page”

31 January 2013

Working in a wine shop, or any retail store for that matter, during the holidays can be a very harrowing experience. I remember one of my bosses saying something along the lines of “playing traditional christmas music in stores makes people stressed out because they connect it with the panic of the holidays”. This article about the power of suggestion reminded me of that his statement. The funny thing is that I’m not quite sure if reading about these triggers makes me less susceptible to them or if it does absolutely nothing.

1 February 2013

With the issue of gun control at the head of several debates going on right now in the country, I’ve been reading a lot of arguments for and against it. That being said, it is important to be informed about the history of a topic and what is at stake. I enjoyed this article a lot because it sought to undo a lot of the dogmatic smokescreens being cast in the debate. So often the founding fathers are invoked as a method to legitimate one’s stance; this article tries to get at, in a historical manner, what was meant by the second amendment and to get at the heart of the matter here.

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