The Sunday Post for September 2, 2018

Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.

The New Reading Environment

Writer, editor, reader. On the internet, the small sins of each add up until real communication is impossible. The editors of n+1 have a thoughtful piece that looks at how a new way of reading — in which we’ve all become like that annoying boor at a party who listens only with an ear to what he’ll say next — shapes what gets published and how.

This is such a good call to action to all of us: to remain alert, to remain thoughtful, not to let “outrage is a sign of consequence” be the register in which we read.

To be a reader is to suffer. The endless call-and-response that leaves writers forever relitigating their work . . . all this is for our sake? In the not so distant past, we could sit with an article and decide for ourselves, in something resembling isolation, whether it made any sense or not. Now the frantic give-and-take leaves us with little sovereignty over our own opinions. We load up Twitter to discover some inscrutable debate (“Why is everyone fighting about the Enlightenment?”), usually over a series of misinterpretations, which in the space of an hour or two has ended friendships and caused major figures to leave the platform.
Stephen Colbert connects Chance the Rapper & Childish Gambino to the Lord of the Rings

Hat tip to Jason Kottke for linking to this utterly charming short video of Stephen Colbert drawing a throughline, with immense passion and slight sheepishness, from the prosody of Childish Gambino through Gilbert and Sullivan all the way back to Tolkien. Don’t think you want to watch video this morning? Can I change your mind by pointing out that Colbert recites lines from all three?

Kottke is a bit hard on Colbert’s use of the word “rare” to describe the particular pattern his ear picked out. I’d gently submit that there’s a lot more to rhythm and rhyme than, well, rhythm and rhyme — the unique earprint of a line of verse or song is made up of the interaction of so many sound patterns and its emotional tenor and the experience and trained or untrained ear of the listener. In other words, Stephen Colbert is clearly right, and Jason Kottke is clearly, and I never thought I’d say this, wrong. (But “superbly nerdy” — yes indeed.)

I wonder about the “rare” bit though . . . rappers packing songs with internal rhymes is not a new thing nor is referencing Gilbert & Sullivan in hip-hop. Still, this is superbly nerdy.
The Allure of the Rose and the Bow

In a very few words, Emily Schulten perfect captures the waking-in-Eden devastation that happens when a child learns her body is shameful, and even more poignant, that she isn’t the one who defines whether it is or isn’t.

When I leave the bedroom, I stay close to the hallway’s stone wall. Back upstairs, I take my time. I look at the tangled elastic and stitching of the bra, the X-patterned front of it. I pick it up, feel its weight between my fingertips. I hate it. I unbutton my uniform, pull a binding across one shoulder, then the next, contort one shoulder toward my ear and around to my back to make the tight straps reach. I fold both arms behind my back so they will meet to fasten the eye-hooks. I can feel the weight of the thing. It’s heavier now.