As we told you Monday, one sad editrix of celebrity gossip sheet thinks her profession is living on borrowed time. It's one big void out there, the canvas is blank, there is no news. And it's not just low culture. The zeitgeist at large seems to be suffering from tired blood (maybe too much vital energy spent looking at mobile porn?). Nicholson Baker's Human Smoke was the most noteworthy book to be published so far this year, and it argued that World War II wasn't worth fighting. World War II. That's not even counterintuitive in a fun Slate-y kind of way. As for the election, we're in a massive lull until at least Labor Day, barring Israel's surgical strike on Natanz, which happened yesterday while you were updating your Tumblr page. The arts? The worst film of the year, M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening, is (tellingly) about about an epidemic that causes inanition followed by suicide. The Jewish Museum's exhibiting action painting at a time of supreme lassitude. Elsewhere the herd of independent minds has taken a collective nap: the red siren that blares in Matt Drudge's head has been as silent as the one in James Wolcott's. So what's going on?
• The Web is dead. Churchill once described a pudding as having no theme. The same is broadly true of today's Internet; Web 2.0 has descended into bathos, which really ought to have its own 'sphere named after it. Facebook's great advertising revenue model went bust a year ago and everyone's already stalked everyone else on MySpace. Most user-generated content reads like a stale algorithm of pettiness, paranoia and semi-literacy. Time formerly proclaimed "us" the "Person of the Year," and it proved too burdensome a responsibility. We renounce the title.
• The television season is over. What is there to watch now except the Real World set where it always belonged – on a Hollywood soundstage – and with revolving cast members that don't hang around long enough to come out of the closet, smack each other in the face, or forget to load the dishwasher? Bring back House with its acerbic Bertie Wooster.
• The economy is in limbo. It's bad, sure, but it's not quite so bad as to precipitate a new artistic or literary movement. No one's ready to move into lean-tos on the B.Q.E., become a Trotsykist, and found Partisan Review. Speaking of which –
• There are no new magazines. What's to overhype and then hound to an early grave? Radar's doing fine in that unremarkable way of its. And n+1 will either lurch into neoconservatism or get bought out by Dave Eggers and turned into Zimbabwean refugee's emo fanzine.
• There are no parties, except the one being thrown tonight by Keith Gessen, the Julia Allison of public intellectuals, who wants to take back the Internet the way Irving Howe wanted to make socialism relevant.
• We live in atomized and fragmented times. Like academia, the culture is over-specialized and only caters to microscopic – mostly web-based – niches. My Buddhist Scandinavian black metal band can beat up your vomit porn-themed ballet troupe. It's impossible to congregate under a mass banner of anything anymore. Is this why Barack Obama is deified? Is he the closest thing we have to a popular icon? (Michael Chabon thinks so, and he's the dean of Superman studies.) But there are no other imagos to make our hearts beat as one and give us a shared cultural experience. What's the last stadium-venue concert you attended? (I'm seeing Mos Def with a Big Band this month and I can't even get worked up about it.) Who's the Seinfeld of the humorless aughts, the Geldof of this age of waste?
• Politics has sucked the oxygen out of media. Fortunately, like the TV drought, this may just be seasonal and subject to change once November comes and goes and Obama Girl is cast in the next Tom Stoppard play as Béla Kun's wry housekeeper.
• It's been an uneventful summer thus far. Might we look forward to a rolling blackout in August that will allow us all to mate in darkened stairwells and wash with tonic water for a glorious twelve hours again?