This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the category “culture”

Myths and Illusions: The Myth of True Genius

Ivan Aivazovsky, "Pushkin's Farewell to Sea" (1877)Today’s entry into the pantheon of modern Myths and Illusions: True Genius.

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10 Feel-Bad Quotes For Your Friday

William Michael Harnett, "Memento Mori To His Favor" (1879The Internet is full of quote lists. All of them, absolutely all, are feel-good quotes. Turn to Google whenever you need an infusion of self-esteem or self-pity, and you will get thousands of cavity-inducing blurbs about the importance of loving yourself and giving yourself more credit for being you. If you’ve read my blog, you know how I feel about that crap. Not only do I despise feel-goodism, I mostly hate quotes too. Many are apocryphal, and many more are torn out of context and applied to situations that the author did not even remotely have in mind when he wrote the words. However, I do have some favorite passages from great literature. And so, today, I am offering a heady espresso to go with the sugary confection that are inspirational quotes. The passages below are unlikely to inspire self-admiration or enthusiasm, but they are guaranteed to inspire thought. I offer them with brief commentaries. Enjoy. Read more…

On Academic Trigger Warnings

Auguste Toulmouche, "Dans La Bibliothèque" (1872)
TRIGGER WARNING: This post may upset you. If you are one of those people who believe that a mere difference of opinion, or an opinion that suggests, however remotely, something negative about your personal choices is tantamount to“shaming” and an all-out personal attack, click away now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Read more…

A Belated Mothers’ Day Wish

Volga barge haulers: they had it easy.

Volga barge haulers: they had it easy.

Here is what I want: I want people to stop saying that motherhood is “the toughest job”. For the record — I am a mother. I especially want people to stop saying that stay-at-home motherhood is “the toughest job”. For the record — I am not a SAHM. Read more…

What Does This Movie Mean? The Coen Brothers’ “Fargo” (1996)

Here is another entry in my amateur critic movie interpretation series. This is Fargo; if you are reading a blog entry interpreting it, I assume you’ve seen it — so I won’t summarize the plot. Let’s just dive right in. Read more…

Ban All Images Just In Case, For Freedom

William Hogarth, "A Midgnight Modern Conversation" (1732)WARNING: The artwork contained in this post depicts an occasional nipple and a baby without undies. If you are under 18, don’t look, or you will die!!! If you are 18 or over, proceed at your own risk, but should you believe you may be harmed by the sight of a female breast or a naked infant, I do encourage you to consult your father, clergyman, therapist, your favorite political candidate or your local Chastity Pariah.

You sheeple will be happy to know that conservative heroes have uncovered the real reason Jay Carney’s kitchen has prints of two WWII-era Soviet posters in it: to make you sign up for Obamacare, convert to Bolshevism, embrace the theory of evolution and make Jesus cry. Never mind that these posters are virtually identical to American propaganda posters from the same era. Never mind that the posters convey rather unobjectionable ideas (unless you are a Nazi sympathizer): “Men, enlist! Your country [which, by the way, was actually honest-to-goodness invaded in WWII] needs you.” “Women, do your part on the home front!” (That “Natasha the Riverter” poster actually reads “strong home front — strong war front”.) Never mind that in recent years, vintage Soviet posters have become something of a fad, and their significance to people who hang them in their kitchens, or bathrooms, or dorm rooms, or laundry rooms, is ironic. No — wingnut pundits know upwards of 5 Russian words (including “dacha”, which this native Russian speaker apparently never understood properly), so leave it to them to tell you what these images really say to you, you poor bovine schmucks without understanding or willpower. Read more…

“Stupid” Is The Least Of It

Unknown, "A Laughing Fool" (c. 1500)So this Dutch 14-year-old got herself arrested for tweeting a terrorist threat at American Airlines. Copycats inevitably followed, because the world is apparently full of people who think that the worst thing about such tweets is that they are “stupid jokes”. Read more…

Auto-Da-Fé

The Burning of Sodomites (unknown artist, German, 1482)
My previous post, Teabagging Jesus, provoked a lengthy discussion in the comments, which devolved into a general argument about the supposedly unfocused and shifting nature of liberalism. At one point, a guest commented that people who harass confront (let’s use a polite term here) women in front of abortion clinics are motivated only by a good-faith concern for those women’s souls, not maliciousness. It’s important that we all understand that, the guest contended. After some reflection, I decided the topic deserves its own post. Read more…

More Stupid Things People Like to Say: Third Installment

John William Waterhouse, "A Tale From the Decameron" (1916)People love saying things that sound clever. Especially people who aren’t very bright. Take that combination — an intellectually mediocre person and a desire to appear “deep” — and you’ve got the perfect recipe for the birth of notions so intensely stupid, they are destined to endure forever. These are notions that end up on “inspirational” posters of sunsets and beaches. These are notions that the world’s vulgarians repeat over and over — and still think themselves not only well-informed, but original. So here is my third list of certain pearls of “wisdom” that are common as dirt — and explanations as to how they are actually idiotic. (You can find prior installments here and here). Read more…

Trayvon Martin Was A Floozie

Udo Keppler, "A Good Beginning" (1899)I haven’t commented on the George Zimmerman verdict, because there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said by others more eloquently than I ever could. So not to beat a dead horse, I just want to briefly point out a detail that I haven’t seen discussed, but that I find very curious: the standard justifications that “impartial” people offer for killing Trayvon Martin are eerily similar to the arguments the same kind of people usually offer in defense of rape. Nay, they aren’t similar, they are exactly the same. Read more…

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