Another Week Ends

1. The author of the original Friday Night Lights, Buzz Bissinger, dropped as offbeat and […]

David Zahl / 3.29.13

1. The author of the original Friday Night Lights, Buzz Bissinger, dropped as offbeat and not-quite-repentant a tale of addiction on GQ this month as I have ever come across. A convergence of shopping and sex addiction rooted in Law-induced despair (never being able to measure up to initial success) and plain old powerlessness, the circumstances are so outrageous you almost wonder if it’s a prank. Like many an addict/human being, Bissinger is peculiar mix of self-loathing and self-indulgence, both fearful and proud at the same time, his smatterings of wisdom covered up by layers of misanthropic confusion and a ton of great one-liners. Of course, if Good Friday isn’t an occasion to tour the uglier corners of the human heart, when is? Not for the easily shocked or offended, ht CB:

buzz_gucciI am a writer. I crave stimulation. I need it to create, to survive. Without it I feel dead, useless, overcome by the worst anxiety of all, nothingness, dead man walking. There was a time earlier in my life when I loved to write… But in my mid-fifties the words were harder to find, the excuses to [frolic] around more pronounced, the anxiety multiplied that whatever I was working on would never reach the dizzying heights of Friday Night Lights. It had been my first book, written nearly twenty years earlier when I was 35—2 million copies sold, a film, a television series.

I began to dread the process, nothing ever good enough, the thoughts in my brain never quite finding the page, the withering negativity that had always been my guidepost in life only more withering. I [frolicked] around more and more—nasty guillotine rants on Twitter going after everything and everyone, Googling my name six or seven times a day, craving crumbs of attention.

Then I started looking at clothing, hot and beautiful and transformative, a new sense of self-expression that I finally had the courage to realize. I hated khaki pants. Clothing became the stimulation and attention I craved.

2. On a related note, The Atlantic reports that our national “narcissism epidemic” may be related–gasp!–to our Internet use. Captain Obvious territory, I know, but a couple of the observations are fresh:

Among a group of 37,000 college students, narcissistic personality traits rose just as quickly as obesity from the 1980s to the present… Elias Aboujaoude, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford, notes that our ability tailor the Internet experience to our every need is making us more narcissistic. He observes, “This shift from e- to i- in prefixing Internet URLs and naming electronic gadgets and apps parallels the rise of the self-absorbed online Narcissus.” He goes on to state that, “As we get accustomed to having even our most minor needs … accommodated to this degree, we are growing more needy and more entitled. In other words, more narcissistic.”


3. Along very similar lines, The NY Times put out an interesting little report about “Your Phone Vs. Your Heart” which gives the skinny on some new research from Barbara Fredrickson and her colleagues which suggests that our collective smartphone addiction may be having a biological impact on our ability to relate to others. Scary:

In short, the more attuned to others you become, the healthier you become, and vice versa. This mutual influence also explains how a lack of positive social contact diminishes people. Your heart’s capacity for friendship also obeys the biological law of “use it or lose it.” If you don’t regularly exercise your ability to connect face to face, you’ll eventually find yourself lacking some of the basic biological capacity to do so.

Thankfully, The Huffington Post is here to help! Their “6 Ways to Recognize And Stop Dating A Narcissist” has to be one of the more unintentionally funny pieces I’ve read in a while. You could substitute “American male” for “Narcissist” and almost all of the suggestions would translate, ht JW.

4. Funny that this was the same week, then, that The Times Literary Supplement published a lengthy appreciation of David Foster Wallace by Thomas Meaney, which contains the priceless line: “Wallace’s hideous men are, after all, talented narcissists, who know how to use the language of personal discovery and moral progress in the service of gratifying their desires.” The rest of the piece probably won’t tell you anything you don’t already know (and it’s clear that Meaney’s sympathy for Wallace has its limits), but as an overview of DFW’s exploration of depression and boredom, it’ll do.

Spot-Terylene-Dave-Davies-25. Two other jolts of particularly articulate pessimism for your weekend reading pleasure would be Edward Hoagland’s exasperated lament, “Pity the Poor Creatures”, and philosopher Roger Scruton’s ridiculously unfashionable “When Hope Tramples Truth”, both published in The NY Times.

6. Next, maybe you saw Paul Zahl on CNN this past Friday, giving voice to some of the religious objections to drone warfare? If not, the CNN Beliefnet article in which he is quoted is here. And for the column he wrote on the subject, go here.

7. The friendly part of the theologosphere produced a couple of gems this week, among them Nick Lannon’s inspired reflection on underground comic artist R. Crumb over at Liberate. Also, Romance of Grace author (and breakout presenter at our upcoming NYC Conference!) Jim McNeely has been on a tear over on his Therefore Now site, “Must Grace Transform?” being a particular favorite.

8. In film, Michael Leary’s review of Terrence Malick’s new To The Wonder for Curator is, er, a wonder. Wes Anderson’s new movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel has a plot which sounds delightfully Andersonian. Set 85 years ago:

The Grand Budapest Hotel tells of a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars and his friendship with a young employee who becomes his trusted protégé. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting, the battle for an enormous family fortune and the slow and then sudden upheavals that transformed Europe during the first half of the 20th century.

If you’ve got some serious time to kill, this unbelievable Woody Allen supercut has been making the rounds:


9. Finally, in music, I know you’ve all been dying to hear our verdict on the long-awaited new Suede record, Bloodsports (the band was the subject of our least read post of all time). Well, you can breathe easy: maybe maybe it’s just the clothes they wear (their terylene shirts) but dad is it driving me mad–in the best possible way! And the “B-sides” are no letdown either, thank God. There’s even what sounds like an ode to Sydney Carton on “Sabotage” where Brett sings, “I climb to the scaffold smiling/ My hands on the cross I’m holding/ Love is sabotage/…Thy will be done”. Beautiful. Elsewhere, Mbird faves Sons of Bill debuted their excellent new single, “Bad Dancer”, over at Paste. The Washington City Paper ran a phenomenal if also pretty depressing article about the Brooklynization of culture entitled “Our Band Could Be Your Band.” And then this happened: