We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It’s as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out windows, or drown themselves, or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us are slowly devoured by some disease, or, if we’re very fortunate, by time itself. There’s just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds & expectations, to burst open & give us everything we’ve ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning, we hope, more than anything for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so.
In an ongoing effort to actually put a voice to my disparate and endless thoughts, I’ve got another article up about how U2’s Songs of Innocence reminded me of Radiohead’s In Rainbows, and which of those two albums will stand the test of time (take a guess).
It’s Not About Kanye West—It’s About You
With all of the advancements in the availability of information, you’d be excused for believing that most people are informed or, at the very least, know someone who is. You might even think that sensationalism is a harder trick to pull off when a quick Google search leads to an alternative version of whatever event is being blown out of proportion.
But you’d be wrong. If you happen to be one of the many people who idly scroll through their Facebook feed looking for news—one in three Americans rely exclusively on it for this information—and willingly click on linkbait with the intent to share, then you’re part of the problem.
Oddly enough, celebrities—who are otherwise held in high esteem in the cultural imagination—are the most frequent victims, with their publicized lives put on display without context or nuanced discussion. And once the toothpaste is out of the container, no number of thoughtful, intelligent responses can overturn the tide of ignorance.
Kanye West—the favoured punching bag for the internet’s moral crusaders—is at the center of another veritable shitstorm of internet attention, with all future and current Soccer Moms and Bootstrap Dads on their soapboxes declaring war against douchebaggery, as if they live in a world in which West hadn’t already written a song about them.
The target of their derision is a recent concert during which West allegedly “called out” handicap people for sitting during “The Good Life.” Even though the article acknowledges that “he was satisfied with the fans’ reason for not standing” and the video clearly shows no serious accusations on West’s behalf—he was being flippant for the effect, as showmen tend to do—the story still went viral. Once again we’re treated to the realization that not very much is needed for the pitchforks to come out and the witch-hunt to begin.
If virality shows what our culture cares about and invests its emotional energy into, then it appears we are happy to put someone on trial for the smallest perceived transgression. Evidence, empathy, and attention to complexity are dismissed in favour of politically correct pandering. Situations that are hardly worthy of comment dominate the news cycle, and real people are distorted beyond recognition.
Here are a couple highlights from my newsfeed:
“There are not many people I just can’t stand in this world and I try to let Heavenly Father handle it but Kanye West is the biggest Jerk on the planet. I wouldn’t go see him in concert if it was free. How dare he call out 2 handicap people for not standing up at his concert and then the nerve to tell them that ‘This is the longest he has ever had to wait to finish a song. KANYE WEST GOD WILL DEAL WITH YOU YOU PIG!”
“What a piece of shit. For this reason alone I won’t go to his show if you GAVE me a ticket and paid me to attend. How fkn DARE he call someone out like that?”
You would think that if someone has the temerity to verbalize an aggressive attack, they would’ve actually watched the video, which shows that the exchange was playful and hardly shameful. I would suggest that people whose sensitivity and knee-jerk reactions cloud their judgment consider the context and tone of the exchange instead of tabbing back to Facebook and penning an all-caps rant. That would be futile—what people choose to do instead is to map their preconceived judgments about Kanye West onto their experience of the event, and their smug, holier-than-thou attitudes are swiftly reinforced.
Kanye West doesn’t need anyone to fight his battles for him—he’s perfectly suited to do that on his own. But if we continue to accept and share stories without thinking about them critically or tracing the attitudes and motives behind these activities, then we will continue to live in a world where we get and read the stories that we want (the ones that confirm our existing worldview) and not the stories that we need (the ones that are challenging and intellectually stimulating), and we’re in for a grim future.
Just for old time’s sake I decided to pay my study a visit. A little sentimental journey into the land of yesterday. I closed the door and stood in the darkness and thought of the many times when this little room was my very own, with no part of my sister disturbing it. But it could never be the same again. […] A bitterness went through me, and it was painful even to remember the other times.
Hang yourself, poet, in your own words.
Otherwise, you are dead.
You don’t know how deeply you are intertwined with someone until you try to walk away from them.
Collect books, even if you don’t plan on reading them right away. Nothing is more important than an unread library.
A novel is a commodity that fulfills a certain need; people need to buy daydreams like they need to buy ice cream or aspirin or gin. They even need to buy a pinch of intellectual catnip now and then to liven up their thoughts…