“Paris will become a winter garden; espaliered fruit trees on the boulevard. The Seine filtered and warm – an abundance of fake gemstones – a profusion of gilding – the houses lit up – the light will be stored, for there are bodies that have this property, such as sugar, the flesh of certain molluscs and Bologna phosphorus. The fronts of the houses will be made to be daubed with this phosphorescent substance, and their radiance will light the streets.”
Visions of a lovely biotech future Paris from Gustave Flaubert’s unfinished draft of Bouvard and Pécuchet, the novel he was working on when he died in 1880. I suspect he may have had more than one sip of the laudanum on the night he wrote this. If it was the 1980s instead of the 1880s I’d say Ecstasy. It has that kind of E’d up I LOVE YOU SO MUCH MAN demented glowstick exuberance.
Photo by Alistair Gentry.
This is Eden Wood, from Arkansas. She is an “actress, model and singer” who was made to enter beauty pageants when she was 14 months old. She is currently eight years old, having “retired” from pageants at the age of six. QED.
Although I’ll be the first to admit that it’s an example of confirmation bias because I’ve been saying and writing similar things for years, I just read a lengthy but very interesting article about the ways in which social sciences like anthropology, economics and behaviourism may be even more ethnocentric, subjective and ideological than all but the chippiest post-colonial theorists have portrayed them.
In short, social science and its “truths” have been dominated by people from the USA and their culture. And the citizens of the United States are the weirdest and most subjective people in the world. US dominance means that Weird Japan or Weird Asia are internet genres, while Weird USA is just the internet in general. Hollywood films and US TV shows label Paris as “Paris, France”, implying that most people in the world think of the Paris in Texas first of all. They don’t. Studies of sexual mores in the USA somehow get extrapolated to the behaviour of everyone else. And so on. Note that in the quote below even the article’s author apparently unreflectively uses “we” and “our” to mean US citizens:
“In the end they titled their paper ‘The Weirdest People in the World?’ (pdf) By “weird” they meant both unusual and Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. It is not just our Western habits and cultural preferences that are different from the rest of the world, it appears. The very way we think about ourselves and others—and even the way we perceive reality—makes us distinct from other humans on the planet, not to mention from the vast majority of our ancestors. Among Westerners, the data showed that Americans were often the most unusual, leading the researchers to conclude that “American participants are exceptional even within the unusual population of Westerners—outliers among outliers.”
Given the data, they concluded that social scientists could not possibly have picked a worse population from which to draw broad generalizations. Researchers had been doing the equivalent of studying penguins while believing that they were learning insights applicable to all birds.”