What I Read the Week of August 26

“Who Cleans Up After Seeing Eye Dogs?” by Matt Soniak, Mental Floss — This is the kind of question I’d never even thought of before but instantly found interesting. The short article gives a concise answer that only adds to my appreciation for how well-trained these dogs are.

“Why You Should Stop Posting Meme Photos on Facebook” by Jelani Greenidge, Urban Faith — Now, before you tell me this is a trivial issue and the imperative sounds needlessly harsh, please hear out the author’s argument. In recent months, as the sharing of memes has seemed to expand dramatically on Facebook, I’ve reacted mostly with indifference. Many of the memes are at least good for a chuckle, and my focus has shifted more to Twitter, anyway. But gradually, my disappointment has grown. Facebook has unprecedented potential for global social expression, but right now it’s most famous for these bite-size portions of “humor” and “inspiration.” Additionally, these memes only add to the Internet’s notoriety for spreading misinformation and urban legends. They’re usually targeted at and circulated among people who want them to be true and hence aren’t likely to check up on their accuracy. I hold out the hope that Facebook can become a much more interesting place, and that’s why I needed to share this.

“A Critic’s Manifesto” by Daniel Mendelsohn, The New Yorker — This article brings to a nice conclusion what has, quite unexpectedly, become a three-week series on this blog. Mendelsohn helpfully explains the origins of the discussion about the value of critics that has been taken up by Dwight Garner and Richard Brody, among others. To oversimplify their positions: Garner promotes negative criticism, Brody discourages it, and Mendelsohn provides a nice balance. The latter writes another rousing defense of criticism, denying the “those who can’t do, teach” argument often leveled at critics. I’ve found each of these three to be affirming in some way. Becoming a critic would be a dream job. It’s a privilege and a responsibility; it’s about exercising judgment.

“In Movies With Nudity, What’s the Line Between Ogling and Art?” by Jason Bailey, The Atlantic — Sometimes it seems like filmmakers are intent on exploring that line or even blurring it. The writer here raises the questions, spends some time considering them, but does not reach a firm conclusion. That might be the right thing to do, because people who fall hard on one side or the other tend to sound like they’re ducking the complexity of the issue. Individual discernment is necessary, as I mentioned in a previous post. Actors go through a lot, so I think they definitely deserve our thoughtfulness on this.

“Confessions of an accidental feminist” by Rachel Held Evans — I’ve been reading her stuff for several months now and find it quite appealing. Generally speaking, I feel like I’ve been drifting towards the center on some political and social issues this past year. That’s not to say I’m ready to make a stand on many of these issues, but I pride myself on being open-minded, and I’ve been trying to see things from different points of view. The term “feminist” has exceptionally negative connotations among some conservatives, and if reading something like this does nothing more than soften that animus, then it will have been worth sharing.

“When You Really Want to Stay in Love” by Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience (blog) — The inimitable Voskamp lends her lyrical and expansive style to the subject of the love between husband and wife. My sister is getting married next weekend, the first of my siblings to do so (with two brothers following her in the next seven months). It’s a marvelous dream, and I pray that it comes true for these people that I love. Voskamp provides a beautiful expression for what this specific kind of love looks like and what it means.

“Tunnel Vision: Kubrick’s Favorite Composition Gets Its Own Supercut” by Forrest Wickman, Slate — I just love “supercuts,” those mash-ups of different films, often set to music, that showcase individual directors, genres, or the movies of a particular year. They manage both to highlight the creator’s editing skills and call attention to some great images from films. So this last link is really what I “watched” rather than “read” this past week, although Slate gives a nice explanation for what you’re about to see. Lots of fun.

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