Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Only Things That Make Lots of Money Should Exist

Grateful to have my poem "Psalm for Third Base" featured over at THEthe Poetry. Big thanks to Brian Chappell for featuring the poem, and to C. Dale Young and the New England Review for first publishing it.


Despite sounding like he's singing a blues song about the disappointing seats in his new Jaguar, an MFA grad does have the right to question and critique the value of his expensive education. Yet, when you question the intrinsic value of an arts education for everyone else, the cynical attitude is revealed to be very close to the neo-con belief that the arts don't pay so there should be no arts education. Of course, success being relative, it's always difficult to quantify the value of the arts. If, as its publisher claims, Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections" sold 3 million copies, then it netted no more money than "Saw 3D." Now, according to the theory that only things that make lots of money should exist, and because the most critically discussed literary novel of the last decade--by an author with no MFA at that--only made as much money as an underperforming 3D sequel, we should rethink this whole MFA thing.


Yet there is one manifestation of good manners that appears to have exactly the opposite purpose, a form of social lubrication that makes a mockery of everyone connected to it. I refer to the Facebook birthday greeting. The Facebook birthday greeting has become a symbol of all that is irritating about the social network. Every April 11 or June 7 or Sept. 28, your Facebook account suddenly chatters with exclamation-point-polluted birthday wishes. If you are a typical Facebook user, these greetings come mainly from your nonfriend friends—that group of Facebook "friends" who don't intersect with your actual friends. The wishes have all the true sentiment of a Christmas card from your bank. The barrage of messages isn't unpleasant, exactly, but it's all too obvious that the greetings are programmed, canned, and impersonal, prompted by a Facebook alert. If, as Facebook haters claim, the social network alienates us from genuine friendship, the Facebook birthday greeting is the ultimate example of its fakery.

via Slate


SEATTLE — Already, a gender divide seems to be developing over the desirability of being launched into space, at least in the Bordian family, who were visiting the Space Needle here the other day, staring out at the cloudy cityscape and mulling the tower’s latest promotionalcontest — for a suborbital spaceflight, 62 miles above the earth.

via NYT. Our city is sending citizens into space, no big deal.


“They created this kind of world that was just the four of us, and they allowed us to be weird, as weird as we wanted to be without making us feel like we were strange,” he said. “And so I thought about a lot of that with the Fangs. The weirdness exists, but you don’t comment on it. It’s just the world that you’ve made for yourself. And it’s the same thing that Leigh Anne and I are doing with Griff, trying to build this weird world for him and see what happens.”

The family lives outside Sewanee on the edge of a one-acre pond in a thicket of woods teeming with rabbits, bats and deer. Inside the house signs of Griff, 3, were everywhere: a basket of toys near the wood-burning fireplace, a child-size canvas swing from Ikea hanging from the ceiling and a remote-controlled train set taking up most of Ms. Couch’s office upstairs, where she writes her poetry on a drafting desk in the corner.

-A great profile on Kevin Wilson from the New York Times. I'm currently flying through his novel, The Family Fang. It's the best book I've read all year and it more than deserves the attention it's been getting.


Ballard, what.

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