Posts by: Daniel Gumbiner

Sentence and Solas

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If you didn’t see it this weekend, Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours, wrote an astonishingly incisive op-ed about the myriad ways in which literature is a product of translation.

Cunningham suggests, borrowing, ostensibly, from T.S. Eliot’s essay, “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” that almost all contemporary work is some sort of veiled translation of previous, canonical/mythical work.  We are the inheritors of a dialectical tradition that alters our work as our work alters it.

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Close Reading

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Jonah Lehrer has an article in Wired on the ways by which e-text might affect our reading processes.

Lehrer begins by briefly summarizing the “neural anatomy” of how we read: we have a “ventral route,” which, for a literate person is instinctual, quasi-unconscious reading and a “dorsal stream” which we use whenever we have to pay conscious attention to a particular sentence or passage (more commonly known in academia as “close reading”).  Lehrer then claims that hard-copy texts force us to read consciously (or activate our “dorsal stream”) in ways that streamlined e-texts do not.

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New York Alki

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Rumpus contributor Ryan Boudinot, author of The Littlest Hitler, talks with I09’s Charlie Jane Anders about his forthcoming novel, Blueprints for the Afterlife.

The novel takes place in a full-scale replica of Manhattan in Puget Sound (cue Synecdoche, NY comparison).  Boudinot explains how, in the novel, he strove to replicate Murakami’s ability to have, “concrete and fantastical elements peacefully coexist.”  Other influences: The Holy Mountain.

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On Saving Letters

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PBS Newshour’s Zoe Pollock holds an epistolary interview with New Yorker editor Ben Greenmen concerning his new collection of epistolary fiction, What He’s Poised to Do.

Things get epistly real quick: Greenman, the former New Times film critic, discusses the impalpable nature of the digital age, reminds us what we lost when we stopped writing with pens and pencils and meditates on the origin of his impulse to write (1: Fight boredom, 2: Avoid misunderstanding).  Interestingly, Pollock writes that, in an exercise of purposeful circumlocution, she and Greenman wrote their letters (on typewriters), scanned them and then emailed them to each other.

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The Ascetic Fetish

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Check out Flavorpill’s list of the 20th Century’s “most reclusive authors.” Is anonymity, as Salinger once said, “a writer’s greatest gift?”  How limiting is the idea that writers are, by definition, hermetic?  It seems that writers who like to promote themselves or entertain at readings tend to get characterized as “showmen” or accused of “glad-handing.”  But isn’t entertainment something we need to remember to strive for?

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Standardized Redactions

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“What could be the purpose of an exercise testing students on such a lacerated passage — one which, finally, is neither mine nor true to my lived experience?”

-Annie Dillard

I can’t say I’m surprised that the standardized testing cosmos is methodically censored – it always seemed to possess an otherworldly wholesomeness.  But the extent to which it is regulated and the surreptitious/unsanctioned nature of that regulation is a little bewildering.  Removing all mention of Judaism from an Isaac Bashevis Singer story?  Really?  What is the purpose of cleaning up texts for mass testing?  How old do you have to be to read the word “gay”?

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Michael Chabon on Mavi Marmara

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“This is why, to a Jew, it always comes as a shock to encounter stupid Jews. Philip Roth derived a major theme of Goodbye, Columbus from the uncanny experience. The shock comes not because we have never encountered any stupid Jews before — Jews are stupid in roughly the same proportion as all the world’s people — but simply because from an early age we have been trained, implicitly and explicitly, to ignore them.

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BPGlobalPR

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“Safety is our primary concern. Well, profits, then safety. Oh, no- profits, image, then safety, but still- it’s right up there.”

“You don’t go drilling 5000 feet underwater with the tools you want, you do it with the tools you have.

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DHS Does Not Approve

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“I had wanted to make an interpretation of me giving all of myself to my work… I wanted to convey that the cans were exploding with color, and that’s how my art was being created.”
- Rene Gagnon, street artist

In case anyone forgot, the Department of Homeland Security does not approve of – we repeat, does not approve of – you placing stickers that show a man with “his arms outstretched and his face pointed to the sky” and what “looks like a bomb” strapped to his chest, on airport trashcans.

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