Two Words Where One Won’t Do: Against Conciseness

Dylan Taylor | 25 July 2017.

The dawning supremacy of M.F.A. writing is well observed and disparaged by many. Arguably, this ‘homogenized, over-workshopped writing’ has become increasingly content to follow prevailing literary models, making much contemporary English literature unambitious and conservative. Rather than push boundaries, many modern writers seem content to contribute their own version of a story that has been told a thousand times before: a story typically of love, of coming-of-age, of examining identity, in middle-class London or New York. Overwhelmingly, the stylistic cornerstone of such a story is prose that is polished and clear: all unjustified adjectives must go.

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Video Games and the Humanities

Dylan Taylor | 3 April 2017.

With the release last month of the newest entry in the Legend of Zelda series, Breath of the Wild, talk has turned again to the artistry of video games. The idea that interactive entertainment can tell interesting stories, or that it is capable of being considered “art” in the “high-brow” sense of the term, has been a contested one, albeit one which has seen the scale weighted more on the side of the defenders in recent years [1]. Within the field of the humanities, where scholars study what have, in many cases, been widely considered the highest forms of storytelling, how does one make sense of where this newer medium stands? How does one who has grown up with video games and who considers literature—and the art of storytelling itself—to be one of humanity’s highest achievements, come to terms with their appreciation of both?

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Marvel’s America: Living in an Age of Oversimplification

Dylan Taylor | 6 February 2017

In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville observed that Americans have “a lively faith in the perfectibility of man…They all consider society as a body in a state of improvement”. Such descriptions help explain our common stereotype as pragmatic idealists with a penchant for exaggerated emotions and an uncomfortable awkwardness in the face of negative, or even ambivalent, sentiments. Studies [1] have implied what many introverts could readily describe: America is a land where being quiet or reflective can induce strange looks or even pity. Being slow-to-judge—a trait so often honored by moral philosophers throughout history—is, to that subset of Americans which subscribes to a masculine, red-blooded vision of our tenets, seen instead as a sign of weakness and naiveté. This diluting of issues into binaries—weak or strong, moral or immoral, right or wrong—is a cultural tendency that has seemed to reach its apotheosis in the theatrical build-up to the new presidency and its traumatic fallout.

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