seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
[personal profile] seekingferret
A few things:

A friend from college just posted this comic, and it's pretty amazing and should be shared widely: http://www.charipere.com/blog/miscarried (TW: The title pretty much gives it away. Deals with miscarriage and living with loss)



On a completely different note, I've been watching How To Make It In America and struggling to articulate a genre name for a thing I love which links How to Make it In America with shows as disparate as Orphan Black and The Wire and Suits and some other shows I love. What these shows have in common is that they use the mechanics of the competence porn subgenre- supernaturally clever and skilled protagonists working together in teams that maximize everyone's potentials- but the good guys don't always win at the end of the hour.

The rush I get from watching these shows is definitely the same I get from watching shows like Leverage or Bones or the Flash, the hustle of adjusting plans on the fly to deal with unanticipated obstacles, the sudden insight of how to creatively route around a problem... but somehow outside the genre requirement that the end of the episode bring a triumph and a close to the episodic structure.

How To Make It In America sometimes closes its episodes with its heroes getting an unexpected order to make 300 T-shirts by next Wednesday, when they'd gone in looking to sell jeans. But it just as often ends its episodes with those 300 shirts, frantically and competently sourced from a mysterious warehouse in Greenpoint, stolen when the truck they were sitting in was jacked.

I really like that combination of competence and failure. But I don't have a vocabulary to describe the generic conventions of these stories, though I think they do have conventions. Like, there's a very specific kind of defeat-snatched-from-the-jaws-of-victory beat that I've seen on all the shows I mentioned, and a very specific gutpunched-character-sits-alone-while-sad-usually-indie-music-plays-into-the-credits beat.


Incompetence Porn? Anti-Competence Porn? Failure Porn? None of these names seem quite adequate to call what I'm describing. Possibly it's just Competence Porn That's Weirdly Paced... it's very common on these shows for the heroes to hit the tropey denouement of a competence porn plot at the three quarters mark, and it feels like the episode is over, and then rather than the episode ending, the remaining quarter of the show is the letdown. But we could, I suppose, think of that as really being the first fifteen minutes of the next episode of a competence porn storyline, time-shifted to the end of the previous episode.




Also, I finished reading the Meyer's history of Reform Judaism, which remained just as frustratingly full of interesting factoids yet tantalizingly far from enough detail fleshing out any of those factoids to the finish. The biggest hole in the book is in Meyer's discussion of the Reform Movement's actions during the Holocaust- I think there's a general sense in the Jewish community that because of Reform's connections at the time to the richest and most politically influential Jews in America, it could have done more than it did to mitigate the effects of the Holocaust, and nothing Meyer says refutes this sense, but... he mostly chose to skip over any serious discussion of what Reform did do during the Holocaust, despite covering both the immediate pre-war and post-war eras at length. It's an omission that felt cowardly to me.

I also had feelings about his discussion of Sally Priesand, since unlike most of the other interesting factoids taking all of a page in the book that I wanted to read a whole book about, I actually have read the whole book about Sally Priesand. I did think Meyer actually fleshed out some questions I had after reading Nadell's book... it seems clearer, in the wake of Meyer, that women Rabbis became an inevitability in Reform Judaism only after the merger of HUC and JIS- the institutional politics of the various campuses of HUC-JIS is something Nadell wasn't all that interested in.

All in all, I'm glad I read the book, but it's probably going to lead to a lot more reading about Jewish history to answer all the questions it left me with. But that's okay.
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seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
seekingferret

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