Reading: Critiquing Anonymous, Washing the Dead, 4AD Essentials, Celebrating Nebraska, Thanksgiving Politics & More

Also: Tired of introverts, think before you post kid photos, essential 4AD songs, outer space, learning from Satanists, Spirited Away’s beauty, and secular responses to sacred art.
(Vincent DiamanteCC BY-SA 2.0)

Adrian Chen has written a damning critique of the Internet “hacktivist” collective known as Anonymous. “How did we get to a point where people expect a gang of young geeks with nanosecond attention spans wearing masks from an action movie, who write manifestos in faux-revolutionary prose and play amateur detective in chat rooms, to help a fraught social cause like Ferguson?” Related: What am I cheering for when Anonymous takes on Westboro Baptist Church?

Rod Dreher wrote a moving article about the experience of washing a friend’s dead body and preparing it for burial: “Dealing with the viscerality of death is difficult for all cultures, but for us Americans, it is particularly hard. We shield ourselves from the grim reality of what it means to die in the flesh. Touching the dead is a taboo in many world cultures, but in contemporary America, we wall ourselves off from the horrors of death with sentimentality. It is not that way in Orthodox cultures. But I do not live in an Orthodox culture, nor was I raised in one. I am an American. Standing there next to the body of my friend, preparing to wash him and clothe him in his burial garments, unnerved me to the core. Still, it had to be done.”

An introvert in their natural habitat.

Like Chelsea Fagan, I’m a little tired of hearing about introverts (and I am one). “Introversion has become a thing’ on the internet, an identity that people go out of their way to take pride in and make condescending Power Point presentations about, because we all need to be told why it’s hard for you to make conversation at parties.” Related: Last year, I wrote about the persecution complex of the modern introvert.

If you have kids, chances are you’ve posted photos of them online. Which is all well and good and cute, but what happens when your kid becomes a meme? “Sharing a photo doesn’t give anyone who stumbles across it the right to use it, especially for a commercial venture. But at the same time, I recognize it was incredibly naive to think my photos were safe just because I designated them as all rights reserved.’ ”

Cocteau Twins
Cocteau Twins

The Treble staff has compiled a list of 35 essential tracks from the inimitable 4AD Records (ordered by year). There aren’t any real surprises on the list — Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, Lush, The Breeders — but it’s still a reminder of 4AD’s amazing legacy. Time to dust off your copies of It’ll End In Tears, Doolittle, Into the Labyrinth, Last Splash, etc., and give them another spin or three.

I’ve lived in Nebraska my entire life and love it here, so I always appreciate a good “yay Nebraska” piece. “Nebraska natives find joy in the simple stuff. Like the one finger wave (no, not the naughty finger) from behind the steering wheel. Like the sun striking your face through colored leaves on a fall morning. Or a casual, evening drive to quietly admire life.” I definitely agree with that last point: I love a nice, long drive through the Nebraska countryside.

Just hangin’ around in outer space…

A real, honest-to-goodness astronaut explains what it’s like to be in outer space: “…I’ve spent a total of 55 days in space, over the course of five missions for NASA, and I’ve learned that being out there isn’t just a series of breathtaking moments. It’s a mix of the transcendently magical and the deeply prosaic. It can be crowded, noisy, and occasionally uncomfortable. Space travel — at least the way we do it today — isn’t glamorous. But you can’t beat the view!”

Alissa Wilkinson reckons that there’s something Christians can learn from Satanists about religion and “religious” art: “There is something wildly admirable here in what the Church of Satan is doing on their website: they see that anyone can espouse Satanist ideas, regardless of their orientation toward the religious questions. What they’re pointing to is this fact: a system of belief that is religious (even Christianity) is partly, but not merely a set of beliefs to which you assent, nor a place you go on a Holy Day. Rather, it’s a framework through which you view life, and the religious questions and practices that go along with that.”

Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki
Spirited Away

A couple of film critics discuss the beauty and dream-like logic of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. “My God is this a gorgeous film. The glowing streets of the spirit world’s restaurant district, the melancholy of the ghostly train gliding through the water, Chihiro and dragon-Haku’s moonlight flight: There’s an abundance of memorable visuals in Spirited Away that border on hypnotic… If my dreams looked like this, I’d never want to wake up.”

Pelagia Horgan has written a beautiful piece on what it means, as a non-religious person, to be affected by religious art. “We might not believe in the things the friars did. But, perhaps, by taking up the practices they used to cultivate their faith — putting ourselves in the way of sacred art, for example — we can feel some of what they felt, recover some of that older, sacramental sense of weight and value. The loving, reverent attitude toward life; the sense that the world is bright with meaning; the intuition that existence is good; the openness to mystery, to experiences we don’t fully understand — these feelings, surely, are still relevant, and, to some degree, accessible, to us.” Via

Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin pie trumps politics, anyway.(Peggy GrebWikimedia Commons)

Extra-special Thanksgiving bonus content: Michael Brendan Dougherty implores you, don’t argue politics this Thanksgiving. “Our politics are taking on a religious shape. Increasingly we allow politics to form our moral identity and self-conception. We surround ourselves with an invisible community of the “elect” who share our convictions, and convince ourselves that even our closest and beloved relatives are not only wrong, but enemies of goodness itself. And so one of the best, least religious holidays in the calendar becomes a chance to deliver your uncle up as a sinner in the hands of an angry niece.” Via

Enjoy reading Opus? Want to support my writing? Become a subscriber for just $5/month or $50/year.
Subscribe Today
Return to the Opus homepage