We like to keep the Full Stop blog a little out of sync from the rest of the internet. It’s a space to highlight the kind of writing that doesn’t quite fit anywhere else. The blog has provided an entrance into writing publishable critical essays for many authors, many of whom have gone on to write for other publications, and a few of whom are now in the process of writing books. We’re able to give writers a space to publish exactly the pieces that they want to write. That means addressing issues including the gender politics of yogurt viscosity, the insidiousness of cupcakes, the legacy of Stuart Hall, the art-historical significance of Chinese restaurants in America, memory, parties, Taylor Swift’s take on queer theory, a first-hand account of your average Valentine’s Day collegiate orgy, a rhetorician’s take on how to frame the climate change debate, a photojournalist’s critique of photojournalism, and a lot of stuff we haven’t even thought of yet. The internet needs the Full Stop blog because the Full Stop blog doesn’t care that much about what happens on the internet, and just follows its twisted little heart to whatever weird terrain it might need to traverse. Come with us, and, if you can, give a little money to help us keep going.

2014-A-Ruined-Year-22014: A Ruined Year Wearing The Face of the Thing You Most Love — Larissa Pham, January 29

Scorpio, you’re the sexiest of all the signs — everyone knows that. Hot and dangerous, 2014 is your year to shine. Are you more prone than normal to déjà vu? Do you often feel as though your life is an endless iteration of the one before it? Are you sometimes indescribably tired, your body fatigued from a curse whose origins you do not understand? Let it all go this year, Scorpio. Let it go and give yourself up to the Old Gods incessantly calling for your blood.

Taylor Swift’s Cruel Longing — Helen Stuhr-Rommereim, February 6

Taylor Swift: All I know is we said, “Hello,” so dust off your highest hopes. All I know is pouring rain and everything has changed. All I know is a newfound grace. All my days I’ll know your face. All I know since yesterday is everything has changed.

Lee Edelman and Lauren Berlant: Sex, as a locus for optimism, is a site at which the promise of overcoming division and antagonism is frequently played out. But the consequences of such efforts to resolve our social and psychic contradictions can include the establishment of sexual norms and the circumscription of sex for socially legitimated ends.

Taylor Swift: He said, “Marry me Juliet. You’ll never have to be alone. I love you and that’s all I really know. I talked to your dad, go pick out a white dress. It’s a love story baby just say . . . yes.”

How to Talk about Climate Change  — Stephanie Bernhard, February 18

If you want to see an expression of pure despair, ask a college freshman to parse Rachel Carson’s rhetorical choices at 8:00 in the morning. That’s what I’m doing this semester for a composition class I’m teaching at the University of Virginia. The course is called “Representing Climate Change,” and our collective goal is to discover and deploy effective methods of talking and writing about our looming environmental crisis. The task is daunting. Climate change is at once really easy and really hard to write about. It’s easy because there is so much to say, and hard because progress toward a solution is so slow.

But what do I know about the fossil fuel industry? I study literature. I am not a scientist. My specialties are agrarian novels and Modernist aesthetics, not cloud formation or sea ice. (Part 2, Part 3)

Battle of The Corpses — Sam Kriss, February 20

This month the Creation Museum hosted a debate (streamed live on the internet) on the viability of creationism between Ken Ham, its founder and the president of Answers in Genesis, and Bill Nye, the TV science educator. It was held in the museum’s lecture hall, but still the stage lights had something of the morgue about them; you could almost smell the disinfectant. As the combatants took to the stage, we viewers were treated to a grim spectacle: the origins of life being debated by ambulatory cadavers. Nye gaunt and emaciated, shadows streaming down his face and pooling in its cavities like mascara-laden tears; Ham bulging obscenely, a slab of greying meat behind the counter of an all-night supermarket. The debate was an obscene parody before it had even begun. Two ragged vultures, seizing a still-breathing creature and slowly picking it apart.

Making Things Feel Real — Silvia Mollicchi, March 11

A few years ago, I found a rather un-known and definitely under-reported Olympic competition: the 1968 Great Bitter Lake Games, complementing the far more celebrated Mexico City Olympics, and taking place at about the same time.

I first came across the Great Bitter Lake summer games in a photograph: a group of fit young men, dressed in amateur uniforms, playing soccer on a ship deck on a sunny day. One fellow sailor, sitting on a wall at the edge of the field, has taken his shirt off and watches the game while tanning. The field ground is the wooden floor of the deck, but the setting is as professional as it gets with soccer, at least on board a ship. Indeed, there is a proper goal in the back of the photo.

The picture, part of Uriel Orlow’s work Waterlocked (2010), was on the front-page of the catalogue of a much larger project by Orlow, The Short and the Long of It, displayed in several iterations. Other than being a compelling work of art, The Short and the Long of It is possibly the best documentation of a rather peculiar instance that took place between 1967 and 1975 in the Suez Canal, when, via the canal’s capillary system of lakes, fifteen vessels from around the planet along with their mostly politically-unaware crews got caught up in regional geopolitics and a war meant to last a few days that instead continues to bloat in time until today.

Capturing Kyiv — Rob Stothard, March 27

The relationship between what is seen and what is said is bounded by our sensations and our perceptions. In the context of the current crisis in Ukraine, where politics and identity are being mediated, the image can have a transparent relationship with the factual if the observer is in a position of authority. That is: if the observer is suitably informed that they can enter into a directionless process by which representations of scenarios are produced, considered and discussed; then questioned, affirmed, and dismissed.

But as “photography” and “seeing” become increasingly synonymous, the market for cheap, straightforward, photographs of consumable, directional news content will increase. The desire to work as a photographer in the field of journalism may be more prevalent than ever before; the “de-specialization” of photography and accessibility of far away headline grabbing events mean that increasing numbers of camera owners are self-confessed photojournalists. Reacting to an abundance of images coming out of a situation, photographers, particularly those trying to break into the profession, see an opportunity to publish work from a significant news event.

The resulting diminishment in the diversity of stories being produced by photographers has been attributed to reduced budgets in the media, but the commonality of vision formed as photographers feel professionally obliged to work in Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Tahrir Square, and Taksim Square will be a major factor in the perceived inability of still images alone to tell stories with breadth and depth. Too often we emerging photographers, rather than providing unique contributions to discourse, arrive to reproduce images, reinforcing an existing visual narrative.

Cupcake-Facism-21-1024x817What Is Cupcake Fascism? — Tom Whyman, April 3

There is now such a critical mass of infantilized subjects in our society that we see their tropes at work everywhere, aggressively. Typically, any middle-class man or woman up to their forties is an infantilized subject nowadays. This means a majority of consumers. Thus every advertising campaign launched by a major corporation and every government public service announcement proudly proclaims that the ideology of cupcake fascism is appealing to them.

It is everywhere, from the most trivial examples: a waste bin with a little picture of a sad puppy on it and the line “It’s not my fault my mess doesn’t get cleaned up,” or a napkin dispenser that says on it, “Please Only Take One of Me,” (this latter is, incidentally, something I once saw in the House of Commons cafeteria; even those in positions of what in some lights can look like actual power are in the grip of infantilization). All the way to massive, blockbuster instances of the phenomenon such as the recent Coca-Cola #ReasonsToBelieve campaign which was full of such obviously insidious expressions of cupcakey positivity as “For every tank being built . . . there are thousands of cakes being baked,” and “for every red card given . . . there are 12 celebratory hugs.” The advert also features a scene in which a man high fives a cat.

What If You’re Dirty? — Eric Van Hoose, April 9

It’s spring now, and if you’re following nature’s cues — cleansing rains, blossoming plants — cleanliness might be on your mind. Lucky for you, the likes of Proctor & Gamble and Unilever have developed high-powered cleaning products to help you do just that. Thanks to new, incredibly high standards of cleanliness, when you clean, you can be sure that 99.9% of germs have been eradicated and that your floors will literally sparkle. But what if your apartment isn’t the only thing in need of cleaning. What if you’re dirty?


2014: Year of The Yogurt Wars — Brittany Taylor, June 6

Chobani’s marketing strategy appears to be gender neutral, focusing on natural ingredients rather than a woman’s desire. Oikos knows that women don’t care about natural ingredients, they want a hot Greek man (John Stamos) to bring them yogurt. In one commercial, two average looking women (they’re pretty but not hot and they’re on the slenderer side but probably want to lose ten pounds) sit outside a cafe, one with a donut in front of her (carbs!!) one with a slice of chocolate cake (women cannot resist chocolate cake and will order it for breakfast). One says to the other, “In a perfect world, every man would look like John Stamos.” And then all the average looking men turn into John Stamos and the women start squealing (okay, natural reaction I guess). John Stamos then brings them cups of Oikos on a silver platter. Dannon leans back on the tired trope of sexual desire. To get women to buy yogurt that will help them eat healthily, associate that yogurt with a charming handsome man. Note, a 50 y/o man fully clothed, not some young shirtless beefcake. Perhaps Dannon thinks this is a stab at gender equity, by objectifying a man (tastefully).

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