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Posts tagged "Performancism"


From The New Yorker

Fischers of Men (or, a Chessay)

Bobby scanned the board one last time, drew in a breath, and gently grabbed a black bishop that looked slightly unnatural in his small hand, moving it three squares to e6. A huddled group of spectators suppressed a gasp. Journalists began to quietly scribble notes while onlookers cast skeptical glances at each other. Was it […]

If I Can Just Understand the Arrival Fallacy, I’ll Be Happy

The latest ‘gimme’ from the world of social science has, er, arrived. I’m referring to the Arrival Fallacy, “the illusion that once we make it, once we attain our goal or reach our destination, we will reach lasting happiness.” Earlier this week The NY Times devoted a whole column to this familiar dynamic, A.C. Shilton’s […]

The Dangers of Parenting Under the Influence

Waiting in the airport today, my family chipped away at a crossword. We were stuck with only a few clues left to solve, so needless to say, stakes were high. In a family where crossword answers are like currency, one can feel pressured to do the unthinkable under certain circumstances. Google. No, no, I wouldn’t […]

Preaching to Todd Marinovich

Todd has learned a term, performance-based love, to describe the trauma of his youth: “The only time, perceived or real, that I felt loved, is when I was performing, which is super sick.” He believes if he had not turned to drugs, he would have killed himself. “No-brainer,” he says. “I don’t know what else […]

Everything for Nothing: The Berenstain Bears and the Black Hole of Pressure

Fatherhood has become my most cherished title. I love being a dad and watching my daughter grow and learn and play and become who she is. Fatherhood has also, though, baptized me in the waters of children’s television, which, if you’re unfamiliar, is a genre of entertainment rife with princesses, anthropomorphic animals, and seemingly no […]

From the Archives: What I Didn’t Do On My Summer Vacation

Lately there’s been a considerable dearth of David Zahl on this site, wouldn’t you say?! So here ya go. The following article goes out to anyone strapping a cargo shell to the roof of his or her car this weekend. From our archives, this one remains as prescient and timely as when DZ wrote it […]

Passionate vs. Cool: Performancism in College

Set to start my senior year of college, a few interactions from my first semester in Charlottesville still stick with me. One was a question my advisor asked me as I anxiously slumped into a chair in his office for the first time. The second is a comment I made over lunch with a professor I […]

Penn Faces and Campus Tragedies: More Notes on the Suicide Epidemic

Here’s why I didn’t want to write about Julie Scelfo’s recent article “Campus Suicide and the Pressure of Perfection” in The NY Times: It is not because we’ve written about the phenomenon too many times already–though we have. It is because writing about it again only serves to underline how futile-seeming these kinds of reflections […]

Alfred Hitchcock: Artist of Anxiety

Alfred Hitchcock agreed to sit down with François Truffaut for a five-day interview in August 1962. The Frenchman aimed to pick the master’s brain and snag some good tidbits for interested cinephiles. Gradually, their conversation started to flow and the product was a wonderful book. In its introduction, Truffaut calls Hitchcock an “artist of anxiety.” […]

Thou Shalt Never Feel Bad: Inside Out for the Ivy League

Sadness is having a cultural moment, and that makes me happy. Much of this is thanks to Pixar’s Inside Out, that rare film which deserves all the success and acclaim being heaped upon it. There are any number of reasons to laud the movie, as DP pointed out a couple weeks ago. Its artistic merits […]

Simultaneously Frazzled and Fragile: Surviving a Culture of Overachievement

It’s getting to the point where I’d almost rather not draw attention to articles like Frank Bruni’s “Best, Brightest–and Saddest?”. Not just because I wish their subject matter wasn’t as urgent as it is, or that their claims were more groundless, but because the whole thing has become so excruciatingly obvious. As performancism escalates, so too […]