Consumed Media

Mar 2021

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

Things that stuck with me:

Jeffrey Eugenides is one of those authors that weaves the small embarassing truths of our life into his words. Reading them gives you a pang of familiarity and appreciation for the beauty of living along with a deep melancholy and a little wince, like he just touched a scrape that is a still raw. The virgin suicides is such a scathing critique modern suburban america and the strange collision between western culture's expectation of the innocence and chastity of girls and young women with the pathological sexualization and transformation of them into objects of desire. The way the boys fixate on the women as sexual objects from afar but take with them a deep sentimentality for any tender moment with the girls really stuck with me and rings true for my own experiences with navigating the adolescent world of first loves and experiences with sexuality. I love this quote in particular:

“Anyone have some mints or some gum?" Bonnie asked. No one did, and she turned to Joe Hill Conley. She scrutinized him a moment, then, using her fingers, combed his part over to the left side. "That looks better," she said. Nearly two decades later, the little hair he has left remains parted by Bonnie's invisible hand.”

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

Things that stuck with me:

A great book that catalogues some of the ways previous big technological shifts have changed the way we think and act, such as written language, the map, the clock, and the book, and then goes on to document some of the changes emerging with the computer era. It also does a great job of citing relevant neurological research about how the tools we use, what we spend our time thinking about, and what we commit to memory all change our brain. The book's thesis is essentially that the "era of the book" is at a close, and it was a beautiful outlier in human history due to how we used our brains. For most of human history, human's attention has been scattered - to constantly scan the world around us food, predators, sources of water, you name it. The advent of the mass-produced book went against all that evolutionary programming and had us hone our attention to be laser-focused on one thing for long periods of time. This caused all sorts of changes in our brain that aided with focus, memory, and deep thought, all of culminated in the enlightenment. Now with the advent of computers, our main tool that we use while thinking is re-enforcing distracted, scattered thought, as well as allowing us to externalize information instead of having to commit it to memory. This erosion of attention and memorized information is creating a dearth of deep thought in us once more. It has made me really think about where I funnel my time and attention, and I have found myself reading more and consuming less information that has been fed to me by an algorithm. I am very gratefule to this book for those changes.