Say you want to rant somewhere it’ll be seen. Or send a love letter, publicly. Or write short, realistic fiction in the form of ads about how your grandmother has been captured by neo-Nazi zombies demanding a large vat of non-kosher, organ-based meats in return for her safety....more
Raphael Allison, at Guernica, fuses together his experience at this year’s MLA conference in Chicago with the subculture of the modernists in order to discuss the “crisis in the humanities”:
Mods and literary academics are caught between the allure of wildness, ingenuity, and nonconformity and the desire for some sort of stability, recognition, and achievement.
I have to remind myself that all is permissible. Art has to be a free space. Language has to be a free space. And I just shouldn’t worry about that kind of thing while I’m working. I might pay the consequences later, but that’s not my problem while I’m doing the writing.
In the Weekly Standard, Algis Valiunas debates the literary legacy of Jules Verne.
“William Butcher, the foremost English Verne scholar, boasts that his man is “the world’s most translated writer, the best-seller of all time, the only popular writer to have increased in popularity over more than a century.” Yet in the next breath the enthusiast bleats that too few know that Verne, in fact, reigns supreme in worldwide popularity and that all too few serious persons realize how serious Verne really is.
Dan Piepenbring writes at the Paris Review about the universe inside industrial-supply catalogs, which offer a different kind of poetry to readers:
And so I often reach for it in pursuit of a kind of materialist awe. It makes for a reading experience more engaging, imaginative, and informative than almost anything that passes as literature.
Always first aware not of the naked feeling itself but of the best way to phrase the feeling so as to avoid verbal repetition, you come to think of emotions as belonging to other people, being the world’s happy property and not yours—not really yours except by way of disingenuous circumlocution.
The distinctive tone of influential blues man Jimmy Reid can be heard throughout modern rock music, from Z.Z. Top to The Rolling Stones. In his hit song “Baby What You Want Me To Do,” from 1959, he sings, “You got me doing what you want me / So baby why you want to let go.” The passion and the subtext behind the words—which were written by his wife—have gotten our attention....more
Thursday 7/17: The Newer York magazine hosts PDX Literary Madhouse, a night of live music, readings, free Rorshach tests, and even a chance to have someone write you a fictional bio. Readings by Andry Valetine, Sidra Quin, Brad Garber, Erica Sklar, Michael Magnes, A.M....more
The role-playing fantasy game, Dungeons & Dragons, has just turned 40. And along with its enduring popularity comes a literary legacy:
For certain writers, especially those raised in the 1970s and ’80s, all that time spent in basements has paid off.
A heart, the source of empathy, or at least what we use as a visual for love, was an initial starting point. As a nod to the medical part of the essay, a graphic illustration of a heart is used.
Kimberly Glyder was responsible for designing the cover of Leslie Jamison‘s essay collection, The Empathy Exams....more
NOFX bassist Fat Mike spoke with Noisey about his S&M lifestyle, a choice often viewed as socially unacceptable. He sees BDSM individuals as facing many of the same challenges as the LGBTQIA community, though without the support of a community:
It’s so unfair because the transgender, bisexual, gay, and lesbian communities have their groups.
Carol Muske-Dukes, a former poet laureate of California, discusses the role poetry plays in modern life at the Paris Review. She considers whether people think poetry is relevant or accessible, as well as how we approach it differently today than we have in the past:
The reality is that we live in an age that works against poetry.
(adj.) wandering through or amongst the clouds; moving through air; from the Latin nubes (“cloud”) and vagant (“wandering”), c. 1656.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Late last month, employees of Book Culture, an independent New York City bookstore, voted to unionize. Five employees were promptly fired.
Punitively firing employees who participate in labor unions violates federal labor law. On July 2, the remaining workers went on strike in protest of the illegal firings....more
Girls Write Now, an organization dedicated to offering creative opportunities to underserved and at-risk girls in New York City public high schools, just released a music video called “Ode to Malala.” The song is based on a poem written by one of the program’s participants, and honors Malala Yousafzai, the education activist from Pakistan who was shot walking home from school....more
In the wake of American spies tapping into every form of electronic communication, Germany is considering typewriters for highly sensitive documents. The Russians have already instituted such measures. Typewriters aren’t foolproof though. In 1984, the Soviets listened to the keystrokes of US Embassy secretaries, looking for patterns....more
At the Los Angeles Review of Books, editor and founder of Bookslut.com Jessa Crispin writes on feminism in its contemporary incarnation by way of two recent critiques of 50 Shades of Grey. She draws a distinction between feminism (a discourse) and feminism (a table-turning form of social domination) wherein “The bullied become the bullies [and the] abused become the abusers.”
Any sort of societal critique is thrown at a patriarchal straw man, as if all we have to do is get 50 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs to be female and an equal number of female bylines at The New York Times to have a better world.
Great news: the entire library of the HMS Beagle is now online.
Technologies of heartbreak is real important I think.
Animals as 3D printers (this is the wrong way to think about the world I think)....more
“Kipling,” says a psychiatrist friend of mine, “was always pretending to be something other than he actually was—which was a 10-year-old boy.” His work, the best of it, has a boy’s barbarism and a boy’s conservatism. “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” succeeds so spectacularly because it is, in a sense, written by that 10-year-old boy—by little Teddy, the quietest character in the story but the one with whose special boyish loves and terrors the narrative is saturated.
Social media is a cruel machine, propelled by our desire to keep up appearances and affirmed by a strange, voyeuristic capital of likes and favorites. While Facebook can at times feel like a digital cocktail party devoid of any significant personal connection, Julia Fierro, author of Cutting Teeth, makes a case for its value to those who struggle with anxiety and loneliness:
It is socializing on my own terms.
The Hawking Index was created by mathematician Jordan Ellenberg to measure how much of a book readers were actually reading, by analyzing Amazon’s “Popular Highlights” feature on Kindle devices.
Over at the Guardian, writer and literary critic Alex Clark and columnist Tom Lamont debate whether it is truly important and necessary to get through a books in its entirety....more
Yony Leyser, director of the documentary about William S. Burroughs, is making a feature film about Berlin’s queer community, and he needs your help to crowdfund it. Over at Indiewire, Leyser explains his desire to deglamorize the city’s dark underground scene and explore what it means to be a member of a community whose definition is constantly in flux:
I go back and forth from being firmly committed to the “queer community” to being totally and completely disillusioned with the concept and diametrically opposed to it.