Outside Reading — Parallel Path edition

magnet poetry

Garbage Language by Molly Young

Ever-wonderful Molly Young wittily, wisely addresses the scourge of the modern workplace: communication twisted into a buzzy abomination meant to confer seriousness and impenetrable expertise. The most tellingly obtuse words and phrasing are brought out for easy mockery, but Young shrewdly goes deeper, exploring the ways in which the language is meant to draw sham boundaries around certain individuals and teams. She also artfully draws upon the history of business communication to demonstrate that this filmflammery has been going on for ages.



Duncing About Architecture by Kate Wagner

Realistically, all anyone needs to know about the proposal detailed and challenged by Kate Wagner is the following: “Everyone is very mad online, except for Ross Douthat, who loves the idea.” If the dunderheaded New York Times columnist is a fan of a pitch, it absolutely belongs in the discard pile. Writing for The New Republic, Wagner digs into a suggested federal policy that would force all future governmental buildings to be designed with a stultifying sameness. Even worse, at the core of the proposal is an insidious attempt to ratify the supposed superiority of certain European cultures. Wagner writes with a caustic comic touch that’s especially appreciated given the ugliness she’s confronting.

And let’s add to our Saturday tradition with some Outside Viewing.

My first real job was in a video store, renting blocky VHS tapes (and, at a different store I worked at, even the occasionally Betamax tape) to eager masses seeking distraction. The melancholy nostalgia of this brief documentary is therefore irresistible to me, as are the old photos capturing a more prosperous time for the shop in question.

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