The internet paid reverence to Toni Morrison this week. Highlights: Zadie Smith and the daughters of Toni Morrison, Kara Walker’s Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ debut novel, Jia Tolentino’s curiosity, 15 film reviews, the fading memories of summer, being more than friends but less than lovers, the true allure of escape rooms, Ivanka Trump is white as hell, and dropping it low for Jesus.
1. PEN America: Daughters of Toni: A Remembrance
Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison died on Monday at the age of 88. Morrison is a legend who is more than deserving of the reverence the world is paying her. People are writing some good shit about her and there are too many pieces to read. As Zadie Smith writes, Morrison filled a “bottomless need” when “there was no ‘black girl magic’… there was no black girl anything, outside of singing, dancing, and perhaps running.” For Smith and many others, reading Morrison for the first time was “more than an aesthetic or psychological experience, it was existential.”
2. New Yorker: Kara Walker’s Toni Morrison
Kara Walker’s New Yorker cover for the August 19th issue, which features Toni Morrison, has been everywhere on the internet, in part due to its remarkably quick turnaround. After working through different materials, Walker decided to make the cover (named “Quiet As It’s Kept”) a cutout “to keep it familiar,” the artist said. “It’s the work I do. I’m no portraitist, but I am a shadow maker.”
3. Vanity Fair: The Beautiful Power of Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates has written his first novel, The Water Dancer. Part book review, part profile, this beautifully written Vanity Fair piece by Jesmyn Ward meanders through Coates’ novel—a love story whose protagonist, an enslaved man, tries to find the path to freedom—and assesses the influence of Coates’ other writing on his fiction, while also analyzing the fame that comes with being a Black public intellectual. For now, speculative fiction seems to be the perfect place for the melding of all of Coates’ ideas. Coates says, “I could write slavery fiction all day.” And, as Ward writes, “along with the massacre, forced removal, and colonization of indigenous peoples and lands… this is the violent, secret heart of this country.”
4. Longform: Longform Podcast #354: Jia Tolentino
If I had to choose one word to describe myself I’d choose curious. I’ve been obsessively following Jia Tolentino since she began doing press for her recently released book, Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion. I’ve consistently followed her writing since she has been at the New Yorker and love the range of topics she covers. I’ve been trying to pinpoint for a while why exactly I’m drawn to her, and this podcast gave me another clue. When discussing her writing and the topics she’s interested in, Tolentino said “I’ve wanted to learn about the world by doing things, and that has given me the interests that I have… I can’t separate what I find most troubling and attractive and repulsive about the world from the things that I’ve experienced.” I feel the same way.
5. n+1: Dreams Are Lost Memories
This collection of short film reviews by A. S. Hamrah is snappy, smart, and considered. Although there are 15 separate reviews, they read as one piece and by the end offer an outline for Hamrah’s definition of film.
6. Longreads: When Friendship Fades But the Images Linger
My favorite place to summer is in Northern Michigan. I just spent my tenth summer there, my fourth summer teaching at an arts camp I used to attend. I started going before I had a cell phone. Before I had a laptop. Before the ubiquity of social media. (As someone who is 23, these are all massive cultural indicators.)
Over the years I lost touch with a lot of people from camp—or never even kept in contact with some of them—even though we share cherished memories. Time is fickle. Eryn Loeb writes about these feelings: “Losing touch is typically a passive process; it happens gradually, without a plan. This thing we have the ability to misplace, ‘touch’: it fades without intention and often without awareness, until one day we notice that real time has passed — it’s been awhile, and then suddenly, it has been too long.”
Every now and again I find myself perusing the camp’s photo archive for pictures. Sometimes I reconnect with old friends over social media. Sometimes we meet in person, and every time we do, it is unnerving to realize how much and little we have changed since we were 10.
7. Gay Mag: More Than Friends
I’m kind of an emotional whore and get into a lot of relationships that one of my friends refers to as “funky ass shit.” These relationships usually last about a year, are extremely intense and passionate, and are never more physical than snuggles and handholding—although there can be a lot of that. For writer Aubrey Hirsch, these arrangements “exist in my brain in a kind of category-less limbo — definitely more than a friendship, but not quite an actual relationship.”
Today we have countless terms for sex without emotional affection, Hirsch continues: “We call them hook-ups or one-night-stands. We call them fuck-buddies or friends-with-benefits.” Being more than friends goes “unrecognized in our vocabularies” and forces us to negotiate “the inverse: What do we call the people with whom we have authentic, passionate intimacy, but no actual sex?”
8. Vox: The great escape
Being trapped in an escape room scares me to the extent that I rarely let myself think about them. Friends will bring them up in conversations that I immediately exit. I cannot even begin to consider the appeal. Escape rooms have risen in popularity in the past decade as “a staple of corporate team-building, which puts them in an elite category of activities you might be required to do with your boss to prove that you are a team player who loves bonding.”
The room is not really what you’re escaping from, though. The true allure of escape rooms is escaping reality. “An escape room requires you to surrender to it; to bask in the joy of not knowing.” And “it’s not only surrender, but communal surrender.” Escape rooms force you “to exist, in real life, with other real-life people, in the same place, at the same time, manipulating tangible objects.”
9. Vanity Fair: The Unbearable Whiteness of Being Ivanka Trump
We all know Ivanka Trump is white as hell. I mean, here’s how Rachel Dodes put it: “She’s so white that the racists who comprise a significant portion of her father’s ‘base’ don’t seem to care that she converted to Judaism.” Whatever hopes some may had of her being a “moderating influence” on her father’s presidency are long gone, and she is even quoted saying “my father has never listened to me about—anything,” so perhaps those hopes were ill-advised anyway. Unsurprisingly to anyone versed in the rhetoric of ignorant white women, “Ivanka just keeps rising to the level of her own incompetence, and her incompetence knows no bounds.”
Lmao. I can’t with this song. You don’t need to leave room for Jesus at the club as long as you’re dropping it low for him.
*All images taken from reference articles*
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