García Márquez and Hollywood Hackers: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about arts and entertainment


Fifty Years of Disquietude
Joel Whitney | The Baffler
“As García Márquez’s great novel turns 50 and panels and thinkpieces debate its legacy, and as the book’s U.S. boosters focus on its mechanics, its inspiration, and its influence on future writers and those who influenced it, it’s high time to unravel the novel’s incidental and almost invisible weaponization in the Cold War—its politics and the politics that helped García Márquez write it.”

This Was the Year America Finally Saw the South
Jesmyn Ward | Buzzfeed
“My generation has felt half-seen for years. We’ve had glorious moments when we’ve been sharply in focus, reflected back in the faces of our artists, our ambassadors to elsewhere. UGK. Erykah Badu. Outkast. But when our favorites with national exposure semi-retire (E. Badu and Outkast) or die (Pimp C), then we do what we’ve always done. We retreat to our locals. Seeing ourselves in Southern hip-hop comforts in some respects. It gives us a sense of cultural cohesion, of identity, of common language.”

Why There’s No Millennial Novel
Tony Tulathimutte | The New York Times
“The generational novel, like the Great American Novel, is a comforting romantic myth, which wrongly assumes that commonality is more significant than individuality … The experience of identity—whether it’s race, religion, nationality, gender or generational membership—is certainly necessary for a full portrait of a person, but never sufficient. There’s also memory, thought, feeling, perception, neurochemistry, mood, and everything else.”

Mr. Robot Killed the Hollywood Hacker
Cory Doctorow | MIT Technology Review
“It’s about time. The persistence until now of what the geeks call ‘Hollywood OS,’ in which computers do impossible things just to make the plot go, hasn’t just resulted in bad movies. It’s confused people about what computers can and can’t do. It’s made us afraid of the wrong things. It’s led lawmakers to create a terrible law that’s done tangible harm.”

The ‘Soft Power’ of Art
Ric Kasini Kadour | Hyperallergic
“We live in a time of historic, global wealth inequality and increasing political turbulence ... It feels, at times, as if Western Civilization, as we have known it, is unraveling into the dark muddle it found itself in 100 years ago. What are artists to do?”

Bertolucci’s Justification for the Last Tango Rape Scene Is Bogus
Jessica Tovey | The Guardian
“The argument that the action is justified for the sake of an authentic reaction is bogus. It is called ‘acting’ for a reason. It’s not supposed to be real, it is pretending. The magic of an incredible performance comes when an actor delves into their imagination and taps into emotions that are very real; it often leaves us physically and mentally drained but we accept it as part of the job because we know the power of stories and we want to share them with the audience.”

The Year that Culture Disappeared
Ryu Spaeth | The New Republic
“The problem is not only that culture was displaced by what was quite possibly the craziest political campaign in American history. That is understandable, especially given the real-world consequences that will ensue from the spectacle. It is that our cultural institutions—Hollywood, television, book publishing, the news media, the recording industry, the big three sporting leagues—were so impotent in the face of Trump’s rise.”

Listening as Activism: The Sonic Meditations of Pauline Oliveros
Kerry O’Brien | The New Yorker
“Considered as a healing practice—or a ‘tuning of mind and body’—Oliveros’s ‘Sonic Meditations’ are, to an extent, unique in the history of musical experimentalism. In these works, experiments were not conducted on the music; the music was an experiment on the self. Anyone searching today for the complete box set of ‘Sonic Meditations’ won’t find it, because, as the composer wrote, ‘music is a welcome by-product’ of this composition. The experiments remain in each listener.”