An Interview with Publishing’s Savior (Not Really), and the Digital Age as Baroque: Today’s Recommended Reading

Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. Today, we have an essay looking at the way video games and the digital age have ushered in a societal shift that parallels the changes that took place in the baroque era. We’ve got Diarrhea Planet talking about aliens and sci-fi, a single-man publisher that has (attempted) to shift the paradigm of book design, and, selfishly, an urgent plea to, pretty please, make restaurant work mandatory for all.

Over at KillScreen, Roman Kalinovski writes about the baroque era, which, ahem, disrupted the bummer of a society at the time. Specifically, he writes of the way the digital era has mirrored that disruption — everything is being reevaluated, and the stories being told through video games are mirroring this in ways that trump stories told almost anywhere else. 

The arts—painting, sculpture, architecture, theater, and poetry—flourished not in spite of these problems and upheavals but perhaps because of it. The baroque era, which lasted roughly from the late 16th century to the middle of the 18th, played host to new varieties of artistic expression that, in their melancholic mourning, pilfered fragments from ruined or imagined pasts and rearranged them—like a puzzle without a solution—into a nearly endless variety of novel forms and iterations. This process continues to this day, as a growing number of theorists draw parallels between the disorienting effects of digital technology in the 20th and 21st centuries and the societal upheavals of the 17th. A digital baroque era has been inaugurated, expressing potential solutions to the same problems of thought through the media we produce and consume.

This interview at Motherboard took place more than a year ago, but it’s still #fresh #content, because it just ran today. The writer interviews Diarrhea Planet about pretty much everything under the sun — including the sun. Well, not really the sun, but you get the point. PSA: It’s mostly just silliness. 

I mean… What if we don’t die though? Like you could computerize your brain?

Ian: Immortality will probably be achievable. [I’d say] in 50 years. No joke.

50 years?

Emmett: Not life extension first? Just pure immortality?

Ian: I think someone’s gonna figure out how to be immortal.

Emmett: Someone’s gonna build a computer we’re part of right now.

Evan: Kurzweil’s getting close, man.

Ian: Like a biological computer.

Evan: We’re getting closer and closer.

Wired has a brief profile of Chris Lauritzen, who decided he was the man to singlehandedly save the publishing industry. He probably won’t do that — hey, who can? — but “A” for effort. He did design and publish a really dope edition of Edwin A. Abbott’s Flatland, and it’s one of the prettiest books you might ever see. But will he and his concept save publishing? Probably not, sadly enough. 

There was a time, not so long ago, when everything was printed on paper: ads, flyers, brochures, pamphlets, notes. Or, as Lauritzen characterizes that stuff: “Junk. Ephemeral noise.” But over the years, much of that junk has gone digital. “What that means for print,” Lauritzen says, “is that, yes, the amount of printed material has gone down, but the percentage of quality to crap is higher than ever. By choosing to do something in print, you’re saying this thing is worth a damn, this thing is worth going through all this hassle. Print is starting to become its own quality filter.”

Lauritzen had inklings of this notion at least as far back as design school in the late 2000s, but it wasn’t until he was more than four years into a series of jobs at Google and YouTube that he decided to drop everything and pursue publishing full-time.

Lastly, on a somewhat selfish note, a piece at Esquire that recommends something some might find appalling: mandatory restaurant work for all. As someone who has, and still does, work in the service industry, I can’t say I’m unbiased. But the piece goes beyond bias, and provides a long list of testimony from former restaurant workers who have moved on to “more serious” employment. 

“I think the big skill that carries over is your ability to read people and relate to people on the fly,” Rez Talmone, a lawyer in New York City, says. “There are so many different lawyer types. I’ve found that to get the furthest you really need to cater to the individual personalities.” Reading the other lawyers he deals with is no different than reading a table.

“Knowing how to subtly inform a guest that there is no such thing as Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc—they might mean Cabernet Sauvignon or Sauvignon Blanc, were they thinking red or white?—is exactly the same as reminding your adversary that they misquoted a ruling or misread a statute and might be making a mistake,” he says.