And so it shall be written

In my tireless campaign against the unceasing boredom, I’m constantly on the (furtive) lookout for new reading material at work. I shouldn’t admit to that, but it’s true. The lovely and erudite people at 3quarksdaily know where the good shit is, and they are kind enough to point to it periodically when they see articles of interest.

On a side note, can I just say that in this large world, there is a great deal of TERRIBLE writing? And even more depressing, there are a large number of brilliant writers who allow themselves to write terribly? I get impatient with momentary cleverness, one liners, jabs, quick jokes, dashed off bon mots that somehow stand in for anything of substance. This is the danger of the internet, and of blogs in particular: that they are personal and impersonal, permanent and evanescent, residing randomly in the ether, cached forever on a search engine’s server. They are not subjected to any real drafting or editing process, and the audiences are often faceless, rarely identified. With high standards, I am often disappointed. Perhaps it is because I now make my living as a professional writer and editor (not the exiting kind either, but of the technical variety) that my lust for excellent, well-composed prose is so strong. I expect other writers to be able to not just string together coherent sentences, but to do so with grace, elegance, style, and a distinctive voice. And! I want to read about Subjects that Matter! I don’t care about celebrities. Everyone else cares about global warming, so I don’t have to, except in a peripheral, take-out-the-recycling-and-turn-off-the-lights sort of way. I want to know about heritage buildings that are being torn down, strange new diseases that are being discovered in the depths of Africa, the shortlist for new directors for the Met (museum), whether the death penalty is ethically defendable, and honestly, how good is the new Magnetic Fields cd, anyway?

So, what I originally started out to say is that the folks at 3quarksdaily have established a pretty excellently curated collection of bits and pieces of this and that from the web. It’s a filter blog usually, so most of the time they just post articles from other places on the web, but since they have several writers, all of whom are smart and widely read, what a collection it is! They have recently turned me on to the following great websites:

The Guardian Art & Architecture Blog ~ Many newspapers have arts sections, but somehow this is much more interesting than the dry art reviews and lifestyle porn of the NYTimes, precisely because it isn’t part of the printed paper. The people who write here are all critics of various stripes, but they write about issues that interest them, comment on current developments in the art world, and generally have interesting things to say. I never get the impression that they are trying to sell a lifestyle or pillows, or, even issues of their newspaper. I do kind of want to be some of these people, though.

The Smart Set ~A college version of The Atlantic Monthly, this is an online magazine produced by Drexel University. The writing here is clever, if sometimes a little precious. It can also be very refreshing, in a crisp gin-and-tonic sort of way. The art writing, mostly by Morgan Meis, can be quite good — his recent article on the funeral for Modern Art was pretty great.

There are other hits and misses…but somehow I feel like this rant has gotten off track. Maybe I’ll come back to this later?


~ by ecp on January 26, 2008.

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