This is, of course, Current Times, a blog type in which I tell you about good things on the internet that you need to care about. You can click on the little Current Times category in order to see all of the past ones. I promise that new content is coming–skateboarding, Ranciere’s The Future of the Image, Chester Brown’s Paying For It. Until then, read this stuff.
1. Jonathan Coulton has a great article up about his business model and what it means for music. I have made the same arguments that he is making for a long time, and it’s refreshing to read how positive he is about it. If we’re locked into capitalism, and I think we are for the long run, then we should at least be entertained by it, and we should try to find the best possible strain to play with. This is the hope I have to see, you understand.
2. I think this new book by Moretti, called Graphs, Maps, Trees is probably one of the coolest books, well, ever. I’ve told some people recently that the way that I think has changed, and I don’t know why. Most of the time, I think that it’s easier for me to draw a little graph or a flow chart to explain something. I’m piss-poor with words, as any reader of this should well know. In any case, the book argues that we shouldn’t think of the history of literature as a canon–a list of things that are good and acceptable and whatever. Instead, we are supposed to see influence and how it has moved through history. If I ever teach classes, which hopefully I will, I think that I might make little charts to explain where we are in time. It’s so, so goddamn useful.
3. McSweeney’s has an article named “P.G. Wodehouse’s American Psycho.” Read the goddamn thing.
4. The idea that we are somehow “post-racial” because Obama was elected has always made me laugh. We weren’t post-racial after the first black senator, billionaire, or plumber, so why would President be any different? In any case, white people think that they are victims of racism, which is some crazy, crazy shit. Can someone tell me the area of the country where white people are shot with hoses and dogs chase them through the streets? What about places where white people can’t rent or own houses? Where white people can’t get jobs? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
5. After rage-inducing white people, you should watch the The United Monster Talent Agency, something both funny and horrible.
6. You might have heard about this already, but Chinese prisoners were forced to work in gold farming operations in World of Warcraft. I need you to think about that for a second–actual people were enslaved to grind gold in a video game. Everything serves Western capitalism, and the labor of people who would never play World of Warcraft is as inextricably tied to that system as Bill Gates is. WoW’s subscriber population is larger than the population of Jamaica, and that’s a huge playerbase for the legitimate game economy to serve, as well as the secondary, violent market that’s grown up around it. We like to talk about emergent gameplay; this is emergent slavery, emergent economies, emergent violence. I often hear the argument that buying gold on World of Warcraft doesn’t hurt anyone. I don’t think this has been the only instance of this happening.
7. Matt Taibbi has a new article up about Goldman-Sachs. Required reading.
8. There’s a little documentary about Dungeon Masters and what that means for Dungeons and Dragons. It contains some surprisingly non-annoying, non-nerdy, and cogent reasoning about why people want to play D&D. It’s pretty great. Sit through the young woman speaking; she’s really eager and annoying, but this minidoc is gold. WATCH IT.
9. Chomsky’s response to the bin Laden assassination is interesting. I don’t have a lot of content about it, it’s just worth reading.
10. I’m sure that I will return to this at some point, but Mieville wrote a review/essay on The Lord of the Rings. As always, entertaining and thoughtful.