Greater Los Angeles – Geoff Manaugh. Remember when an iPhone had trouble with cellular reception if you put your fingers in the wrong place and a response that was overblown and taken out of context was “you’re holding it wrong”? Los Angeles is a city which you cannot hold wrong. It is so vast and varied that everyone belongs in some way and yet everyone can be alone in some way. It’s not about where you came from or what you did, but what you’re making of it right now. The idea of moving to LA is daunting, but at least it’s a bit romantic.
Corporate Background Music Is Taking Over Every Part of Our Lives – Sophie Haigney. Apparently there’s a whole post-job/career industry of making and (royalty-free) licensing of music to play in the commercial spaces where we do our consumer society thing. Previously we would have called this Muzak, which was also the name of a company, which is also still a thing.
What Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” Tells Us Now – Salman Rushdie. My favorite phrase, “So it goes” is a bit more gallows than I remembered:
I had not remembered, until I reread “Slaughterhouse-Five,” that that famous phrase “So it goes” is used only and always as a comment on death. Sometimes a phrase from a novel or a play or a film can catch the imagination so powerfully—even when misquoted—that it lifts off from the page and acquires an independent life of its own. “Come up and see me sometime” and “Play it again, Sam” are misquotations of this type. Something of this sort has also happened to the phrase “So it goes.” The trouble is that when this kind of liftoff happens to a phrase its original context is lost. I suspect that many people who have not read Vonnegut are familiar with the phrase, but they, and also, I suspect, many people who have read Vonnegut, think of it as a kind of resigned commentary on life. Life rarely turns out in the way the living hope for, and “So it goes” has become one of the ways in which we verbally shrug our shoulders and accept what life gives us. But that is not its purpose in “Slaughterhouse-Five.” “So it goes” is not a way of accepting life but, rather, of facing death. It occurs in the text almost every single time someone dies, and only when death is evoked.
It may be impossible to stop wars, just as it’s impossible to stop glaciers, but it’s still worth finding the form and the language that reminds us what they are and calls them by their true names. That is what realism is.
Slaugherhouse Five is not my favorite Vonnegut novel (Cat’s Cradle is, lets hear it for Bokonism), but it’s certainly the most consequential and the one I get the most out of re-reading (or have ever re-read?). I had no idea Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is so intertwined with it (which I also could stand to re-read).