Category Archives: Books

Culture, Taste, and What We’re Thankful For


What we like can say a lot about us. As sociologist Pierre Bourdieu said, “Taste classifies, and it classifies the classifier.” The claim is that you’re born into a certain milieu, and that ends up influencing what you like. More interestingly, though, these tastes end up “classifying you” through your attitudes toward the tastes of others. You defer to those whose tastes you view as superior and look down on those who can’t match your own cultural cred. When this plays out, we have ourselves a class system.

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Thor’s Day: Norse Gods and Reboot Culture

thorsdayHappy Thor’s Day, everyone! You all know Thor, right? The majestic blond superhero with the hammer and the thunder? Or maybe the red-bearded god and lover of frost giants? Descriptions of the Norse god are vague and far-reaching across time and space. Why the disparity? And how in the world did he land in comic books?

The character known to us as Thor finds his beginnings in the oral tradition of Norse/Scandinavian mythos as the protector of humanity from the frost giants and other unnatural forces, the god (usually) second in power only to Odin. Characteristically wielding a mighty hammer, he served as the brawn to the other Norse gods’ brains. Continue reading Thor’s Day: Norse Gods and Reboot Culture

Death, Life, and Halloween

halloweenWith Halloween just around the corner, it’s worth taking a moment to ponder why we celebrate the day in the first place and why it emerges from its grave every year at this same time.

Every culture has its days of the dead: the Mexican Día de Muertos, the Chinese Yu Lan, the Japanese Obon, and, more recently, the Christian Hallowmas are some notable examples. But why the universal human preoccupation with those who’ve left us? The answer might lie somewhere in the dark, primal past of the mind. Continue reading Death, Life, and Halloween