Unrequired Reading: March 5, 2010

What’s that smell? Must be another installment of Unrequired Reading! Now go wash your dishes!

Best Picture NomNomNominations.

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IE6: the Museum of Jurassic Browsing Technology.

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Will Leitch on Roger Ebert: better than that Esquire article.

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I’m okay with God creating football, but does he leave room for free agency?

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Baghdad Taxi-Cab Confessions.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates & The Jackson-Whites. (The latter of which I refer to as, “That bizarre race of orange people who live on the edge of our town, contend that they’re Indians, and appear to have been born from a William Faulkner novel.”)

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Michael Lewis: an object lesson in how we need to slow down.

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I’m still having ups and downs of mood that are more extreme than they should be, and right now is a down phase. I’m letting myself be overwhelmed by the unceasingness of the web; it’s a means of avoidance for me, but I’m not sure what I’m avoiding. That Michael Lewis link above is pretty good, in terms of demonstrating that you don’t need to be wired in to have a good take on The World At Large.

Anyway, here’s a passage from Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, which I got back to reading this week:

It will perhaps be somewhat difficult for the men and women of a later day to understand Jesse Bentley. In the last fifty years a vast change has taken place in the lives of our people. A revolution has in fact taken place. The coming of industrialism, at- tended by all the roar and rattle of affairs, the shrill cries of millions of new voices that have come among us from overseas, the going and coming of trains, the growth of cities, the building of the inter- urban car lines that weave in and out of towns and past farmhouses, and now in these later days the coming of the automobiles has worked a tremendous change in the lives and in the habits of thought of our people of Mid-America. Books, badly imagined and written though they may be in the hurry of our times, are in every household, magazines circulate by the millions of copies, newspapers are everywhere. In our day a farmer standing by the stove in the store in his village has his mind filled to over- flowing with the words of other men. The newspapers and the magazines have pumped him full. Much of the old brutal ignorance that had in it also a kind of beautiful childlike innocence is gone for- ever. The farmer by the stove is brother to the men of the cities, and if you listen you will find him talking as glibly and as senselessly as the best city man of us all.[. . .]

That is what Jesse hungered for and then also he hungered for something else. He had grown into maturity in America in the years after the Civil War and he, like all men of his time, had been touched by the deep influences that were at work in the country during those years when modem industrialism was being born. He began to buy machines that would permit him to do the work of the farms while employing fewer men and he sometimes thought that if he were a younger man he would give up farming altogether and start a factory in Winesburg for the making of machinery. Jesse formed the habit of reading newspapers and magazines. He invented a machine for the making of fence out of wire. Faintly he realized that the atmosphere of old times and places that he had always cultivated in his own mind was strange and foreign to the thing that was growing up in the minds of others. The beginning of the most materialistic age in the history of the world, when wars would be fought without patriotism, when men would forget God and only pay attention to moral standards, when the will to power would replace the will to serve and beauty would be well-nigh forgotten in the terrible headlong rush of mankind toward the acquiring of possessions, was telling its story to Jesse the man of God as it was to the men about him.

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