On Reactionary Cute: How Childish Images and Nostalgia Hack Our Minds

One might ask how we got here, but that's a topic for a historian (May's book seems to be a good trailhead.) If I were to have to venture a guess, I would look to the addition of liminal states between child and adult: the teenager, the "emerging adult", and so on. Another suspicion would be the emphasis placed on youth culture since the 1950s, and especially the youth culture of the 1950s and 1960s. If your life is effectively over at 30, then of course you're going to live in denial about being over thirty, of course you're going to tell war stories about what you were doing when you were nineteen, of course you're going to lie to yourself.

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Lessons from Architecture: What not to do with Paradigm and Syntax

For us, this is the end result of an unconsidered aesthetic: a building is not a sculpture. It is something that actual people have to use, and if it makes them feel anxious or depressed to be there, then it's a failure as an artistic project. It makes it so that they can't function, because a building envelopes the people within it – it becomes the totality of their environment. If it's bad, then they don't have a choice but to feel bad because we don't get to choose jobs based on the architecture.

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The Collapse of Possibility: The Problem of Aesthetics and Ontology in Science Fiction

But all of this is beside the point: the fact that we can pick out two dominant aesthetics in the visual media form of what is supposed to be a “literature of ideas” is a problem. It indicates, if anything, a lack of ideas. If our options are just a visual vocabulary iteration of the old Star Wars vs. Star Trek debate that no one but the people having it are interested in, we've got problems.

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Reality Gives Way to the Real: The Epistemic Crisis and the Damaging Omnipresence of the Sublime

While the news media sometimes talks about an Epistemic Crisis, or discusses the caustic effect that social media has on discourse, or features a think piece about how kids these days don't share the values of their elders, et cetera, et cetera. This isn't what I'm talking about, or not the whole thing. I feel that we are in a dangerous and critically important period of epistemic uncertainty. To whit, in addition to the examples that I mention, I want to introduce some anecdotes (which is an ironic move as far as proof goes; more on that some other time.)

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Ex-Child Prodigies and Broken Promises: The Millennial Meta-Narrative of Coping with Failure

I think that this resonates with many of us because we were given such reason to hope for the future when we were younger and it didn’t pan out. We were born in the “End of History,” when western liberal democracy had triumphed over the Soviet Union, and the future was supposed to just be an asymptotically perfecting version of the present with no huge revisions.

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Some Notes on Aesthetics

We have been taught, in a variety of ways that aesthetics are bullshit: in part, and not unreasonably, because what do Truth and Beauty (yes, with title caps) mean to a world that had, y’know, the whole twentieth century, and has so far made a fucking hash of the twenty-first?

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No More 5AMs: On Trash Television, Suits, Disco Demolition, and Cryptids

This is the last 5AM I have for the foreseeable future – I'm not coming back next semester, as Edgar and I are moving. While I don't like waking up early, I think being up early is quite nice: in the dawn light, during what John Steinbeck called “The hour of the pearl” in Cannery Row, there's a pleasant, unfinished quality to the world. Almost like a level in a video game that isn't done rendering: a sense that anything can slide into existence, remade and renewed. Of course, the effects on my health are more than I like. Falling asleep at 9PM, and becoming incoherent for a time before then, has taken its toll. I already have enough bad habits, I don't need this on top of it.

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