Let’s Sweat the Small(ey) Stuff


Sometimes I feel dumb because I often don't get literary references, and don't really know my critical theorists or philosophers. No one's stopping me from looking them up, this slice of the world is just not in my natural makeup. (It also goes without saying that popular-in-certain-circles lady blog, The Toast, is lost on me half the time.)

In a Gawker piece about the Hello Kitty exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum, I skimmed past tthis:

There is talk of "unabashed commodity fetishism in its classic Marxist formulation" and people raise "skeptical Adorno-arched eyebrows of disbelief" in there.

From context, I can gather Adorno is parallel to Marx, a more familiar name.  To be fair, these lines are excerpted from a book criticized in this post for being too condescending and clueless, so perhaps it's furthering my point.

A quick Google search brought up a New Yorker article that says all I need to know about Adorno:

Anyone who underwent a liberal-arts education in recent decades probably encountered the thorny theorists associated with the Institute for Social Research, better known as the Frankfurt School.

I did not.

Weirdly, and for no reason I can recall, this morning (by which I mean Saturday) I thought of one of my English requirement classes in college where we basically read biographies and wrote book reports.  Allen Ginsberg was in there, so too Martha Graham.

One assignment let us choose our own subject, and a foreign student who couldn't speak much English and was maybe Japanese or Korean, I have no idea because I never paid attention to her, showed up with a copy of "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!: Daily Affirmations By Stuart Smalley." o_O

I suppose there was no Saturday Night Live in whichever Asian country she came from.

I imagined her skimming the aisle of a book store, maybe even Powell's, looking for inspiration and finding comfort in Al Franken's wave of hair or buttoned collar (I was recently told a supervisor described me admirably as "buttoned-up," which is the opposite of how I see myself and probably only stems from my anti-social-ness at work, which translates as seriousness) or the upbeat simplicity of the title.

After my memory lane chuckle and reading about a Japanese cartoon cat, I further procrastinated assembling an Ikea curio cabinet and West Elm console table (which took an entire afternoon and evening somehow even with the extra hour–I didn't even make it to the CB2 coatrack) by scrutinizing October's Modern Love columns. And, oh my, a Satryicon reference. Ye olde Portland was a presence in this romance. The author, according to her bio, teaches writing at Pacific Northwest College of Art, my alma mater.

I do hope she asks more of her students than picking out an autobiography to summarize, though if she does I might suggest "Let Me Off at the Top!: My Classy Life and Other Musings," the only contemporary comp I can think of.

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