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Signals of satiety

I'm still thinking of that nefariously inconvenient fruit, the apple, and how nature had the gall to make it seem, well, natural that you would eat one apple and then stop, rather than eating apple after apple mechanically with little thought or enjoyment, as would suit the world's apple growers. The saga of agribusiness's war against the apple reminded me of how industry in general has triumphed over what were once natural signals of satiety, how successful it has been at alienating us all from such instincts. It's a familiar story, how capitalist abundance and affluence leads individuals to lose all sense of deprivation, rationing, and true hunger. In the absence of the experience of true hunger, they substitute a faux hunger, the ravenous and insatiable quest for novelty, for luxury, or for whatever else society at large promotes as distinctive and desirable. As a manager for Nestle Foods notes in a BusinessWeek article about Russian consumerism, "As soon as people step out of poverty, they become potential Nestle customers."

The point is that signals of satiety have long ceased to come from nature or our own instincts -- if ever they did. Rather, they come from social cues, indications that you've had enough, you've had all that's appropriate for you. These cues are open to manipulation, be it by an oppressive state or a well-organized private propaganda industry, and what's more we the people are likely to be thankful for the guidance from these institutions, which is preferable to having no parameters within which to exist. A rigid class structure complemented by sumptuary laws helped establish and naturalize limits in the past, but now our culture seems preoccupied with the project of naturalizing limitless desires, amking endless acquisitiveness a social mandate -- we are all required to keep up in our own ways, with information (trivial or otherwise) if not material things. Obviously this is not a bad thing, but it's not conducive to relaxation either. Relaxation is a pretty paltry goal, anyway; it's a false solution to the problem of stress, which is the physiological manifestation of a deeply flawed system ill-suited to the needs of the human species

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

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Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

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