Lavin Weekly #49: Lewis, Bacevich, Papagiannis, & Zweig
1. Sarah Lewis’s “Vision & Justice” Is Sold Out—Here’s Why
Sarah Lewis’s guest-edited Aperture issue “Vision & Justice” continues to rake in the positive press, and for good reason. In David Brooks’s recent NYT op-ed “How Artists Change the World”—an ode to famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass, the most photographed American of the 19th century—he makes note of Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s powerful essay on Douglass included in Aperture. Further emphasizing the relevance of “Vision & Justice,” he continues, “A photograph is powerful, even in the age of video, because of its ability to ingrain a single truth. The special ‘Vision & Justice’ issue of Aperture shows that the process of retraining the imagination is ongoing. There are so many images that startlingly put African-American models in places where our culture assumes whiteness.” Additionally, Lewis was interviewed at length on MTV’s political podcast The Stakes, discussing the acclaimed issue, the courses she’ll be teaching this year at Harvard (including one based on V&J), and even teasing her upcoming book—a project that looks at “the way photography began to be used in the 19th century, and continues to be used to unravel fictions about racial categories.” For the full interview, head over to MTV’s The Stakes.
2. Andrew Bacevich Pulls No Punches in The Huffington Post
“How in the name of all that is holy did we get into such a mess?” That’s Andrew Bacevich’s single-sentence assessment of present-day American politics. In a thoughtful, well-argued, and oftentimes humorous article, Bacevich laments the unenviable choice given to Americans this November. Hearkening back to the first election in his memory (Eisenhower def. Stevenson, 1956), Bacevich argues that despite their flaws, each presidential candidate at least displayed a foundation of credentials and likeability. “How,” he wonders, “did the party of Eisenhower, an architect of victory in World War II, choose as its nominee a narcissistic TV celebrity who, with each successive Tweet and verbal outburst, offers further evidence that he is totally unequipped for high office? Similarly, how did the party of Adlai Stevenson, but also of Stevenson’s hero Franklin Roosevelt, select as its candidate someone so widely disliked and mistrusted even by many of her fellow Democrats?” To read Bacevich—partisanship nowhere to be found—tear into both candidates with equal force, as well as propose three key factors contributing to the erosion of American politics, check out the full article.
3. Pokemon Go, AR, and the Future of Play: Dr. Helen Papagiannis on Tech’s Newest Frontier
We’ve been hearing about augmented reality (AR) for quite some time, but with the sudden ubiquity of Pokemon Go, we can finally put a face to a name. Two weeks ago, we covered articles from Lavin speakers Virginia Heffernan and Molly Wood on the mobile monster-snaring phenomenon; this week, we see resident AR expert Dr. Helen Papagiannis weighing in. Georgia Perry’s Atlantic article “Imagination in the Augmented-Reality Age” examines the game as part of a larger question: what will AR-based gaming mean for imaginative play, paramount in enhancing problem solving and creativity in children? Later in the article, she consults Papagiannis, who maintains that “AR is a way to extend the human imagination, not supplant it.” And in her upcoming book Augmented Human (Dec. 2016), she calls AR “a form of make-believe, creating a virtual story than can be visual, audible, tangible, olfactory, and even one you can taste.” With AR on the forefront of pop culture (and sure to be a mainstay of mobile gaming), her keynotes are as timely as they are inspiring. To book one, simply call or email.
4. A Nutty Solution: David Zweig on the Problems with Aralyte
Antera Therapeutics “has all the hallmarks of a sterling upstart” says David Zweig, but its main product, Aralyte, is troubling in more ways than one. A liquid peanut-protein supplement, Aralyte is touted as a way to prevent peanut allergies from developing in children. But in a new piece in The Verge, Zweig argues that not only is the regimen overpriced, it’s largely ineffective. “Aralyte seems to take advantage of our culture’s broader inclination toward solving health issues with a pill, or in this case a capsule, rather than education,” says Zweig. “If parents today are afraid to follow the consensus recommendations of allergy experts ... then maybe education campaigns are a better option than pricey supplements. Until then, though, companies like Antera will exist to soothe frightened parents—at a cost, of course.” Zweig, an expert on the intersection of media, technology, and psychology, is the author of Invisibles, which Douglas Rushkoff calls “A fascinating tour of the hidden landscapes on which human society actually operates.” Curious about him as a speaker? Check out his Invisibles TED talk, embedded below.