The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 10/4

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The internet was a mix of amazing profiles, personal essays and long reads, and batshit American politics. Highlights: Issa Rae, Michaela Coel and Donald Glover, Jeremy O. Harris, the concept of lifestyle, survival diaries, notes on notes, the presidential debate, Trump’s taxes and testing positive for COVID, and swearing parrots. 


1. Bustle: Issa Rae Has More To Do

Firstly, BEAUTIFUL PICTURES OF ISSA RAE! I honestly love the photography from celebrity profiles so much, especially when a Black woman is featured! 

I host a biweekly reading group for women, non-binary, and trans people of color, and for the past month or so we have focused on relationships of all kinds—friends, lovers, families, etc.—from a predominantly decolonial perspective. I ravenously watched the fourth season of Issa Rae’s Insecure when it came out in the spring, and I can’t stop thinking about it. The central relationship in that season is between Rae’s character Issa and her best friend Molly (played by Yvonne Orji), whose friendship faced mounting tension in the previous season. I kept thinking of Molly and Issa during our reading discussions. I kept thinking of how, as Rae explains in this interview, “nobody respects friendship breakups in the same way as you respect a romantic breakup, but they affect your life, and you take them for granted, and there was something so beautiful about examining the little paper cuts, which almost hurt more.” 

In conversation with Elaine Welteroth, Rae speaks about the latest season of Insecure, friendship breakups, voting, and ever-changing metrics of success. These subjects gave me a lot to think about, but I’m also still thinking about Issa and Molly. 


2. British GQ: Michaela Coel and Donald Glover have a lot to talk about

MORE BEAUTIFUL PICTURES! TV G.O.A.T.s Michaela Coel and Donald Glover aren’t necessarily friends but have met each other a few times over the years. One of my favorite parts of this conversation is near the beginning, when Coel and Glover remember a text exchange they had where Coel was to prove to Glover that it was truly her on the other side of his messages. 

Another pivotal moment is when Coel and Glover discuss character development. Glover recounts to Coel that he “read somewhere that you always try to practise empathy,” going on to discuss the role of compassion and empathy in his work and life. Coel, agreeing with Glover on the necessity of compassion and empathy, explains how “because you’re writing these characters, they’re a part of you. So surely you want to empathise with it. You’re making these people and they’re coming from you. They are connected to everybody who actually exists, not just the people I put in my head, so therefore we are all related. If you don’t have empathy for the other, you don’t have empathy for yourself. When you realise that all the characters you’re writing come from you, you want to love them and have compassion for them. Then, maybe, it increases your love and compassion for yourself.”

While the subjects touched upon in the conversation are common, I found the way Coel and Glover discuss them calming and meditative, requiring deep reflection—the same kind of reflection demanded by their work. 


3. SSENSE: Oh, Jeremy!


I’ve never seen either of Jeremy O. Harris’s plays, Slave Play and Daddy, and it makes me so sad! “Brave enough to identify himself as an ‘aesthete,’” Harris is defining a new kind of cultural celebrity: “a very famous and sexy playwright,” according to writer Doreen St. Felix who interviews him here. Living in London since the pandemic, Harris discusses the benefits of staying in Europe, honesty, hustling, and “bet[ting] right on the kind of work that I think the world needs to be seeing and supporting.”

This conversation is vast and endearing—Harris’s mother even makes an appearance to describe the playwright as a child. 


4. What is Lifestyle?

Lifestyle, as a concept, is seemingly perpetually in the zeitgeist. Currently, it is frequently associated with the easily disregardable Instagram influencer and “tangled up in the kind of conspicuous consumption that social media enables; however it also undergirds major sociopolitical conversations,” writes Daisy Alioto in this self-published multimedia project exploring the surprisingly complex term. 

Lifestyle also has economic implications as “contemporary lifestyle is a cycle of creation, consumption and curation. A thing is created when we ascribe meaning to it. It is consumed when we assign a value to it. It is curated when we tell a story about it. This semiotic loop also applies to the performance of lifestyle itself. A lifestyle is created when it is described. It is consumed when it is shared. It is curated when it is received.” It is a kind of memory, and “our memories help us create meaning, and meaning guides our relationship to objects–by extension consumerism, by extension the rules that govern who deserves what.” An acme of culture, lifestyle is a noun but functions as a verb. Riffing on Joan Didion, Alioto writes, “we tell ourselves stories in order to lifestyle.”


5. The Believer: Survival Diaries

This series, introduced by Camille Bromley, meditates on survival, which “as the following writers tell us, is a group effort. It requires constant maintenance. It’s a process, a healing, a daily prayer. There is no winning—but nor is losing the inevitable outcome.” These essays—by Tommy Pico, Mónica de la Torre, Lucy Corin, Souvankham Thammavongsa, Emerson Whitney, Tiphanie Yanique, and Kristen Arnett—are short, deeply moving, and highly relatable. The essays flow through time, flickering between past and present, between personal apocalypses and the apocalyptic mood of the country, lending definition and context to survival along the way.  


6. The Paris Review: Notes on Notes

Ever since reading Susan Sontag’s “Notes on Camp,” I’ve wanted to write notes on, from, or of something. The interesting thing about “books or works I love that reference the ‘note’ in their titles,” writes Mary Cappello, is that “it’s not the note as such that is the defining feature of these books, but the preposition that accompanies the word: Notes OF a Native Son; Notes ON Camp; Notes FROM Underground.” While perhaps positioned as observations, “notes are never neutral,” they “are the minima that constitute a life.” And “though we consider the note the most natural recording device, it is hard to know whether we note to remember or note to forget.” Notes, as well as noting, are complex. 

I’ve yet to write a doctrine of notes, but it is on my list of things to write. 


7. YouTube: First 2020 Presidential Debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden

I did not watch the first presidential debate nor do I plan to, and nor do I plan to watch the others. From what I’ve gathered via Twitter, I did not miss much by not watching it, and a lot of people did not seem to watch either. I know who I’m voting for in the presidential election, and do not feel the need to suffer through that hot mess of so-called democracy. 


8. New York Times: Long-Concealed Records Show Trump’s Chronic Losses and Years of Tax Avoidance

For years Donald Trump’s tax records have been a subject of much debate, with many political groups urging him to release them. The New York Times obtained decades’ worth of his tax records, which show “that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president,” and only paid “$750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.” Some of the things Trump has deducted in his taxes include “hair stylists, table linens, [and] property taxes on a family estate.” 

I’m not surprised by what’s come up from this investigation, just in awe. 


9. NPR: Trump’s Doctor Says He’s ‘Doing Very Well,’ But Timeline Raises Serious Questions

Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, tested positive for coronavirus early Friday morning. Trump is reportedly fatigued and at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. 

Personally, I don’t give a fuck that Donald Trump has coronavirus. He had and withheld vital information on the virus for months before releasing it to the public (and I’m skeptical he has done that in full), and has access to ample health coverage paid by the American people (since we know he did not pay taxes at all for most of the past twenty years). I do, however, care about the essential workers in the White House and across the country that Trump has put at higher risk, and the over 200,000 Americans killed in the pandemic. 


10. CNN: Parrots in wildlife park moved after swearing at visitors

Five African gray parrots—Eric, Jade, Elsie, Tyson, and Billy—were removed from display at Lincolnshire Wildlife Park in England after swearing profusely at visitors. While many visitors enjoyed bantering with the birds, staff made the decision to separate the birds and remove them from public areas over concerns for younger visitors. After the week we’ve had in American politics, sometimes you just need to find joy in parrots swearing. 


Images taken from referenced articles. Have a suggestion for next week? Email with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”

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