Tuesday News: BBC v Netflix, the “romance delusion,” the Last Bookstore, and life-saving books
BBC may become victim of its own success, Netflix exec suggests – Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos predicts that in building such a robust storytelling culture in Britain the BBC may be “doomed.” Not only are younger generations unused to (and uninterested in) paying for television, but other services can now, according to Sarandos, do what the BBC has been doing – only better, cheaper, and more in tune with perceived generational shifts. Actually, I think even more interesting and provocative than the questions about technology and licensing fees is the discussion about culture and how the BBC is perceived as an institution of cultural diffusion:
“I think the BBC has done a phenomenal job in cultivating great talent, in telling very British stories that a decade ago were almost impossible to get produced. . . .
“I think there are many things that the BBC do today that they previously needed to do to perpetuate British storytelling and British culture.
“Today, there’s a lot of people in the open market who want to do that as well, and who in some ways can do that more effectively than a big bureaucracy like the BBC.” – The Telegraph
The romance delusion – So let me warn you that Will Self’s essay is kind of all over the place, and it rests on a series of assumptions about the nature of marriage and romantic love that are in need of way more unpacking than they get. And many may find his use of the word “delusion” offensive. Still, Self has some interesting things to say about the conflict between passion and fidelity in a monogamous relationship, a conflict that genre Romance may be said to specialize in exploring. Self’s essay also got me thinking about how the often highly structured nature of genre Romance can set moral limits and boundaries that help maintain an idealized expression of romantic love that feels realistic to the reader without being realist. It’s not that Romance is an escape from life as a depressing failure, but rather that fictionalized love offers something beneficial to the real reader.
If romantic love was passionately unprincipled in the past, nowadays it has to be in conformity with human rights legislation. That’s right: you should treat this witch, or warlock, who’s ensorcelled you, with the same slightly aseptic respect with which you treat your colleagues. Wildly passionate and improbable affairs must Kitemarked, so conforming to best practice. It’s often noted that in the age where serial monogamy exists alongside the nuclear family, too much pressure is placed on our partners—we want them to be both continent and abandoned, a good friend and a demon lover. Actually, the situation is far worse even than that. We demand of our intimate relationships that they be both grand enough for eternity and sufficiently paltry to sustain the quotidian. We want our lovers to die with us as we mutually gain the very peak of sexual ecstasy—yet then arise and make us a soft-boiled egg with toasted soldiers.
It’s a recipe for failure, and that’s what I feel: a failure. As I said above, I’ve been in love with three women in my life, two men and a dog. I’ll say nothing of the human relationships—decency demands nothing less. But my dog days were instructive. Obviously the relationship wasn’t physically consummated —except with cuddles—although we slept in the same bed. No, it seems to me it’s precisely because, to paraphrase Wittgenstein, that if a dog-lover could speak, we wouldn’t understand its endearments, that we can remain so perfectly in love with them, and they with us. The species-barrier is all we can erect in lieu of the convent walls that kept Abelard and Héloïse apart. Indeed, I can’t see how anyone facing contemporary terms of endearment doesn’t feel as if they’ve failed. We fail in making our choice, which, given our belief that partner-choice is sidereally pre-ordained is really no choice at all. And we fail repeatedly in the very act of loving itself, which requires us to simultaneously be selfless and egoistic to the point of self-annihilation. – Prospect Magazine
Welcome to The Last Bookstore – A lovely, short documentary on Los Angeles’s Last Bookstore, which, for Josh Spencer, represents the resurgence (or fetishization?) of the paper book alongside the rise of ebooks. Whether or not his theory is correct, he’s designed a very charming store.
This short documentary focuses on the life of Josh Spencer, owner and operator of “The Last Bookstore,” located in Downtown Los Angeles. Against the closure of massive bookstore chains and the rise of eReaders, Josh has been able to create a local resurgence of the printed word. We explore his life as a father, husband, small business owner, and paraplegic, as well as the store’s magnetic attraction of the community. – Vimeo
The 40 Books That Saved My Life – James Altucher’s list of 40 books that meet the criteria excerpted below. Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning tops his list, and he can’t really limit his list to only 40 books. I’m not sure what my top “life-saving” book would be, although one of the first books that had a huge influence on me as a kid is T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. Can you name the book that’s most important or influential to you (or that made you a better person)?
For each one of these books: either they made me a better person, or I felt, even as I was reading them, that my IQ was getting better. Or, in the case of fiction, I felt like my writing was getting better by reading the book.
Or I simply escaped to another world. I like to travel to other worlds. To pretend to be a character in someone else’s story.
I think if you can find even one takeaway in a book that you remember afterwards, then it’s a great book.
Remember: It’s hard to remember more than 1% of a book.
Time is the ultimate judge of wisdom. How you bounce back from misery and despair in order to thrive. I hope I learned that from these books. – The Observer