The Sunday Post for June 2, 2019

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 Artificial Intelligence of the Public Intellectual

Soraya Roberts explores the emptying of the minds of our public intellectuals.

Their minds have hijacked the public trust, each one acting as the pinnacle of intellect, an individual example of brilliance to cut through all the dullness, before sacrificing the very rigor that put them there in order to maintain the illusion floated by the media, by them, even by us. The public intellectual once meant public action, a voice from the outside shifting the inside, but then it became personal, populated by self-serving insiders. The public intellectual thus became an extension — rather than an indictment — of the American Dream, the idea that one person, on their own, can achieve anything, including being the smartest person in the room as well as the richest.
MacKenzie Bezos: Novelist and Amazon shareholder worth $35.6bn

Profiling MacKenzie Bezos and the intersection between Bezos-the-writer and Bezos-the-third-richest-woman-in-the-world, the BBC asked some of Seattle's favorite book people for comment, including own Paul Constant, Rick Simonson, Mary Ann Gwinn, and Tree Swenson. Kudos to all of them for treating Bezos, as much as possible, as just another novelist.

The Elliott Bay Book Company hosted a reading of Ms Bezos' second novel in 2013 — and Mr [Rick] Simonson recalls some people questioning why an independent book shop would want to host a book associated with Amazon.

However, he says: "I felt you can invite the other side in - and she's a legitimate writer who deserved a fair reading".

The awkward whitesplaining in David Shields' new doc on Marshawn Lynch

Glenn Nelson expertly eviscerates David Shields's new documentary (screening at SIFF), which returns to the ham-handed examination of race and sports Shields last attempted in his (also eviscerated) Black Planet. You can read this article in much less time and with much greater pleasure than either Shields's book or Shields's movie. Win-win!

Relying almost exclusively on archival footage, Shields not only jump cuts through Lynch’s football career, he liberally slices and splices references and commentary about race and civil rights. It’s not cultural appropriation, per se, but it’s certainly something you might call appropriation of cultural narrative. It builds on the time-honored colonialist tradition of the white man (or, sometimes, woman) feeling uniquely qualified (i.e., the only one intelligent enough) to attach meaning to nonwhite existence.

Bill Cosby is shown in Lynch saying, “For the most part, the Black portrait has been drawn by the white writer and the white producer and the white director for the white audience.” But Shields seems tone deaf to a message that permeates his own work.

The Dark Forest Theory of the Internet

These days, the Internet is kinda like that friend who asks you how you are, only as an intro to telling you how they are at length and in detail — "think" piece after think piece on the dangers, virtues, necessity of our social media gods.

Yancy Strickler isn't the first to worry about what happens when the good guys exit social media stage right. What's new here is the compelling metaphor pulled from Liu Cixin's The Three Body Problem.

Is social media a dark forest that needs heroes to tame it? Or is it the tiresome party we'll all be happy to leave? Do we get to choose?

Imagine a dark forest at night. It’s deathly quiet. Nothing moves. Nothing stirs. This could lead one to assume that the forest is devoid of life. But of course, it’s not. The dark forest is full of life. It’s quiet because night is when the predators come out. To survive, the animals stay silent ...

This is also what the internet is becoming: a dark forest.

The Billboard

This story, Stephanie Montgomery's story, includes a description of her sexual assault. It also includes a description of how, when her employer and the justice system both failed to stand up for her, Stephanie took matters into her own mighty hands, painting a billboard that calls out every part of the system that failed her.

I hope Frances McDormand sends her a fan letter.

Stephanie came to realize she’d reached the dead end of a road she had never wanted to be on in the first place. Nothing was going to happen. No justice, just another rape, the world moved on. The #MeToo movement had opened up the conversation, sure, and it had also spurred men into hyperdefensiveness and aggression, but when the smoke cleared, had anything really changed? Where were the arrests, the convictions? Did a stripper have a bigger voice, a better shot at justice than she would’ve two or five or twenty years ago?

As the months passed, something boiled and wept inside her; she couldn’t live with the silence, couldn’t let the rape go unanswered or pretend it never happened, as she had first hoped to do. An idea began to take hold. She was going to paint something, something huge.