Clinton Trounces Trump, a Guide to Primitive Sponge, and More: Today’s Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. Today we have a history of the overuse of the word liminal in art writing, a guide to the hottest new meme on the market, Primitive Sponge, the curious case of the emo album cover that drew ire from Twitter, and a breakdown of Hillary’s foreign policy speech from earlier today.

At Pitchfork, a look at the response to the album cover for The Hotelier’s latest record, Goodness. The cover features eight “older” models, four men and four women, all naked. The cover itself is completely nonsexual, and the album was universally praised for its actual sonic content. The response on Twitter to the image itself was almost predictably harsh, though. Shawn Cooke talks to the band and the models about what they think of the response, and how they prepared for it.

Only after releasing the Goodness teaser did Holden and Xirin realize that they’d have to come up with an edited version of the artwork. Some of the major distributors, including Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify, required them to censor out the nude bodies. They discussed numerous alternatives: hiring someone to paint the photo, placing a multi-colored bar over the models’ bodies, even using an identical photo where everyone kept their clothes on (according to Xirin, this was done less as a viable option, and more “to validate our initial idea, and just to be like, ‘well, this is significantly worse’”).

At the Awl, a pointed look at the history of the word liminal, and an examination of just why it’s been used so damn much in art writing recently. The writer points out that popular usage of the word in the New York Times actually began in a trend piece about beards in 1958, which proves that the Times hasn’t fixed what isn’t broken.

Per the Oxford English Dictionary:
Of or pertaining to the threshold or initial stage of a process. rare. b.b spec. in Psychol. Of or pertaining to a ‘limen’ or ‘threshold.’
“Rare,” heh. People miss that part of the explanation, I guess. They also miss that though liminal sounds like it should be related to the verb limn, which means to depict or to describe something, it is not. Witness: in Michiko Kakutani’s entire history as the New York Times book critic, she has used “limn” 38 times. But she has never, not once, deigned to use the word “liminal.” Searches confirm this.

At NYMag’s Select All, a primer on the Primitive Sponge meme, which finds humor in situations of fear or surprise — and those are the hardest situations in which to find humor! The meme involves a primitive-looking SpongeBob taking a defensive stance of preemptive awareness. It’s a pretty simple usage to master, but what isn’t simple is that there is another primitive-esque SpongeBob, named Spongegar! Only, he’s more highly evolved than Primitive Sponge, and so should they never be used interchangeably.

To fully understand the meme, it’s important to know that there are two related, but distinct, sponges: Primitive Sponge, the loincloth-wearing sponge whose underbite-afflicted mug has become the face of the movement, and his more recent counterpart, Spongegar, who sports a one-shouldered animal-print cloak, a unibrow, and a generally less menacing demeanor. Spongegar is a more highly evolved sponge, but that works against him: When you need to represent the sensation of primal panic, you don’t want the goofy smile.

Lastly, a simple breakdown of Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy speech from earlier today. We don’t normally cover strictly politics in this space, but, given its timeliness and the straight hot fire she was shouting, it’s worth it today.

Clinton tapped into the reservations that many Republicans themselves have expressed about Trump (well, until they all endorsed him), arguing that his showmanship lacked the depth and insight necessary to govern a country, let alone control one of the world’s largest nuclear stockpiles. She pointed to Trump’s “bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies” to paint a portrait of a man deeply unfit to lead. “Imagine if he didn’t have just his Twitter account when he’s angry, but America’s entire arsenal,” Clinton said.