hilobrow screenshot

A number of weeks ago, a blip on the feed reader caught our attention at tirado/thrown: blog posts authored by Josh Glenn and Matthew Battles, a couple of fellow Bostonians from the JP barrio whose acquaintance we made while shilling ads for Glenn’s amazing periodical Hermenaut in the late 90s-early 00s.  A little more digging outside the confines of the feed reader’s data stream revealed the existence of a new entity on the blogging landscape: HILOBROW. 

From the looks of a number of the posts, hilobrow promises to be an exciting exploration of modes of (dis)engagement with cultural phenomena which advance a particular disposition. Its editors argue against the snobbishness attitude of the highbrow, the well-intentioned dishonesty of the lowbrow, and the middlebrow’s toxic sarcasm. Instead, hilobrow seeks to approach matters through a camp sensibility, which the editors identify as

…a manifestation of engaged irony. (When the cast of John Waters’s 1998 movie Pecker toast the “death of irony,” they’re toasting the death of middlebrow sarcastic hipsterism.) The engaged ironist is a hilobrow.

This, of course, continues Glenn’s long-standing interest in cultivating philosophic attitudes towards the phantasmic saturation of late capitalist existence. In the late 90s, Glenn devoted a double-issue of Hermenaut (#11/12) to the theme of “Camp”, which lays out the terrain he’s treading. The introductory essay and excerpts from that issue still live at the Hermenaut website (under “Print”).  

We here at tirado/thrown couldn’t be more excited for hilobrow‘s debut!


Tonight: Goofing Off in Harvard Square
October 23, 2008, 2:34 pm
Filed under: Books, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , ,

A quick event plug, should you be looking for something to do in Harvard Square this evening. Hermenaut founder, former Boston Globe “Ideas” section columnist, writer, intellectual flaneur, Jamaica Plain native and general all-around bon homme Joshua Glenn is celebrating the release of the new book he’s co-authored with Mark Kingwell, The Idler’s Glossary. It’s a handy compendium that began life as a piece for the UK publication that is the Bible of the life supine, The Idler. It had a spectral afterlife in the depths of the Hermenaut website for a number of years, and is now full-on, stand-alone book.

When I first read the Idler piece in a copy that I borrowed from the Hermenaut offices, it was a fantastic and much-needed vindication of my itinerant and indecisive life in the early 2000s. Personally, it should be required reading as a counter-balance to a world yammering to normalize the capitalist work ethic as a desireable way of life.

The Idler’s Glossary has received some well-deserved attention from the likes of the New York Times Book Review blog, The Washington Post, Boing Boing, and of course, Brainiac. More coverage here, here, and here. So what am I saying? Go if you have a chance, I’ll see you there. You’ll find me restfully seated in the chair near the window of the second floor lounge. Details below.

WHAT: Release party to celebrate “The Idler’s Glossary”

WHO: Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based author, editor, and former Globe columnist and blogger. Introduction by the philosopher Mark Kingwell; design and illustrations by the cartoonist Seth.

WHEN: Thursday, October 23. 5 pm to 8 pm. FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

WHERE: The offices of The Harvard Advocate, 21 South Street (off JFK), in Harvard Square.

WHY: Wine and beer. No, I mean, because this gorgeous little book is an excellent holiday gift for that quitter, dawdler, or dreamer in your life.

Hope to see you there!