Tea With Chris: The Era of the Ersatz

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Thursday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Carl: Are the Chinese terracotta soldiers a fake? Find out from French philosophers of falsehood: “We have entered the era of the ersatz. The mercantile industrial society has imposed the universal reign of ugliness, so that no one can judge any longer between what is beautiful and ugly, and nowadays the very notion of artistic value has become meaningless. We also live in a world where temporality has been banned. The past, when it survives, can exist only in the form of an imitation, as a fake past reconstructed so as to provide a revised and diluted representation of it which is acceptable for the contemporary human-being, especially if this substitute takes on a gigantic aspect.” That guy also has one of the best book titles ever: China is a Horse and the Universe an Idea. Plus: pretty pictures.

Is the demise of DOMA mostly a minor event, a concession to a bourgeois institution? Find out from real humans whose lives were immediately enormously improved. Also find out from John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats.

Would you have cried at James Gandolfini’s funeral? Find out from David Chase, as well as from the eloquent personal essay by Charles Demers at Ryeberg.

What does great art look like in ugly rooms? Find out.

Chris: The Fantagraphics co-founder Kim Thompson, who died on the same day as Gandolfini, was not even a reluctant celebrity, but he influenced his own field no less, and Tom Spurgeon’s obituary explains why.

My friend Lily Benson read an awful piece about “pickup artists” and wrote a brilliant, compassionate one: “Advice that encourages such a fundamental misunderstanding of and disregard for consent turns courtship and sex into a zero-sum game, where one partner gets what they want at the expense of the other’s comfort, bodily sovereignty and happiness.”

As Tyler Coates says, that muppety gay-marriage-celebrating New Yorker cover is silly, infantilizing, and wholly too cute. I wasn’t surprised to learn that it originally came from Tumblr. 20 years ago, after the Crown Heights riots, Art Spiegelman handled a similar gig with heartfelt, irenic slyness:

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