The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 11/21

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The internet was sublime this week! It was also just a lot. In the news: Julius Jones was granted clemency, Kyle Rittenhouse was cleared of all charges, Travis Scott and Astroworld are being sued. Highlights: Timothy Morton’s hyperobjects, hippo ranching, stealing turtles, fine-art nail art, Hanif Abdurraqib, Adele, Tora-i, Leon Bridges and Jazmine Sullivan, and #SurvivingSophia. 


1. WIRED: At the End of the World, It’s Hyperobjects All the Way Down

I had never heard of hyperobejcts before reading this. Coined by Timothy Morton in their 2012 book Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World, hyperobjects “emerge only in fragments and patches that do not always seem to connect up from our view on the ground.” The term “often seems more label than description.”

Examples of hyperobejcts include all the plastic ever created, climate change, and capitalism—things that “threaten our survival in ways that defy traditional modes of thinking about reality and humiliate our cognitive powers, a disorienting shift that sends many people reeling into superstition, polarization, and denial.” Hyperobjects often engender existential terror as they elicit a world in which humans are not the center. However, the idea is not necessarily pessimistic as “there’s something about discovering the language for a feeling, being able to name it, that is empowering—a way of finding a handhold in the dim light of confusion rather than scrambling around in the dark.”


2. The Atavist Magazine: American Hippopotamus

At the turn of the 20th century, Frederick Russell Burnham wanted to “import hippopotamuses from Africa, set them in the swamplands along the Gulf Coast, and raise them for food. The idea was to turn America into a nation of hippo ranchers.” Burnham had the support of members of Congress and Theodore Roosevelt, all of whom believed “the same industriousness that had allowed America to snatch up the continent’s natural resources and snuff out its beauty could be deployed now, more pragmatically, to restock it.”

As the introduction disclaims, “this is a true story, and a very serious one, even though it’s composed of many details that will seem ludicrous and impossible. Most of those details are irrefutable, though. And while I worked hard to verify the rest, doing so occasionally proved futile. I’d like to try and explain why.”


3. The Walrus: To Catch a Turtle Thief: Blowing the Lid Off an International Smuggling Operation

My sister sent me a picture of an extremely large turtle, stating that she “want[s] to be a sea turtle this big.” Getting texts like this from her isn’t out of the ordinary—she frequently talks about how she wants to be reincarnated as a parcel of water. 

The turtle in the images my sister sent me was some sort of sea turtle, but not a Malaclemys terrapin, commonly known as a Diamondback terrapin. In 2014, eleven baby terrapins were found in Calgary, Canada, after being smuggled from Pennsylvania. The turtles sparked an international investigation, and acted as “the first bread crumb[s] in a trail from the Calgary airport to a New Jersey swamp to exotic pet collections in China, exposing a network far larger than one person and one padded envelope.”


4. Vogue: Nail Files: Artist Pamela Council on Why Nails Are the Ultimate “Bad Bitch Armor”  

Nails are everywhere right now. I can’t scroll on my various accounts, particularly Instagram, without seeing a post about someone getting a fresh set, or an analysis of the politics of nail art. 

For Pamela Council, nails are “a lifestyle, baby,” and much of her practice explores nail art and seeks to “further the perception of nail art as fine art through her installations.” Michella Oré and Council talk here about how nails conceptually and materially are the basis for Council’s practice, and how her practice influences her choice of nail art. 


5. New York Times: How Hanif Abdurraqib Cuts Through the Noise

So often I include writing by Hanif Abdurraqib in this column, or work from his project “68to05, where he commissions essays about music for $300 a pop.” I was very excited to read this profile of Abdurraqib by Elizabeth A. Harris in which the writer captures much of what I’ve experienced about Abdurraqib through his various writing and social media accounts. 

In many ways, the best way to describe this profile is midwestern: it isn’t grandiose or performative. It is generous yet humble, and reflective of Abdurraqib’s self-proclaimed superpower: “that I mind my own business… And I actually think that helps my productivity more than anything.” 


6. CBS: Adele: One Night Only

In anticipation of the release of her newest album, 30, CBS shared this special. The two-hour special featured a conversation with Oprah interwoven with a concert at LA’s Griffith Observatory that included songs from 30. The special was everything that fans needed and wanted after Adele’s six-year absence. My major beef with the special, however, is that Adele didn’t perform my favorite song, 19’s “Hometown Glory.”


7. Spotify: 30 by Adele

Adele released her fourth album, 30, on Friday. The album is being championed for its vulnerability, but I gotta say, I’m not feeling it quite yet. Firstly, I am (slightly) disappointed it is titled 30 because in her 2016 episode of Carpool Karaoke, Adele said she wouldn’t name any more albums after her age. Musically, the album seems more ephemeral than her past catalogue—its edges aren’t as clearcut. 

The album is more experimental—sonically, lyrically, and emotionally—jumping between different genres. Adele has always sung in shades of gray; however, her albums have often been punctuated with moments of emotion that are clearly in black and white. In 30, however, the definition of a true black and pure white aren’t apparent. Instead, 30 presents a mastery of experiencing life as nuanced shades of gray. 

I’m interested to sit with the album for a while and see how it ages. 


8. YouTube: Tora-i – PBFF (Lyric Video)

British R&B singer Tora-i released a new song, “PBFF,” last week. I’d never heard of Tora-i before a friend sent this link to me, but I’ve since been listening to her on repeat. I clicked on the link without knowing what to expect and was immediately taken by the bass. I listened to the song a few times, trying to trace how its layered sounds fold in on themselves, before I realized I didn’t know any of its lyrics. Tora-i sings “PBFF” as a reminder to herself: “I’ve learnt that making / homes out of people is all but not safe / burning candles from both ends is unwise.” Throughout the chorus, Tora-i sings notes to herself: “let me remind you / it’s you and just you / let me remind you / don’t let it blind you.”


9. YouTube: Leon Bridges – Summer Rain (Official Lyric Video) ft. Jazmine Sullivan

I was not emotionally prepared for this song. Leon Bridges released “Summer Rain” featuring Jazmine Sullivan and it is so soft, so tender and fleeting. Bridges begins by singing “you’re speaking a language no one speaks,” outlines the improbability of an unknown person, asking them to “let your summer rain keep coming down,” importing them to not stop now. Sullivan enters, enhancing Bridges’ sentiments, that “you are everything.”


10. The West News: Who is Sophia Nur? Allegedly scammed influencers & faked Jack Harlow pregnancy

Sophia Nur scammed celebrities and social media influencers out of $11 million—and people aren’t mad at her. Currently, this story mostly exists across social media platforms, and people aretrying to put the story together from the random information in the space and the funny tweets.” According to the internet, thus far, Nur accomplished the scam by claiming to be a publicist, alleging she was pregnant with Jack Harlow’s baby and needing other financial support. So many people have been scammed by Nur that #survivingsophia is now trending. 

Hopefully a YouTuber will make a video of the story this week so we can get some more details. 


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