Alone Together

E' il titolo di un libro di Sherry Turkle, prof. all'MIT. Si occupa dei cambiamenti sociali dovuto all'uso dei social media e soprattutto della scomparsa della conversazione. "I am a partisan for conversation. To make room for it, I see some first, deliberate steps. At home, we can create sacred spaces: the kitchen, the dining room. We can make our cars “device-free zones.” We can demonstrate the value of conversation to our children. And we can do the same thing at work. There we are so busy communicating that we often don’t have time to talk to one another about what really matters. Employees asked for casual Fridays; perhaps managers should introduce conversational Thursdays. Most of all, we need to remember — in between texts and e-mails and Facebook posts — to listen to one another, even to the boring bits, because it is often in unedited moments, moments in which we hesitate and stutter and go silent, that we reveal ourselves to one another". nytbr.


Ancora sui diari di Susan Sontag

“I want to be good.”
“I want to be what I admire.”
“Why don’t you want to be what you are?”
8/7/68, Stockholm

Susan Sontag appare sempre più interessante. E molto bella in fotografia. newyorker.



Questioningly è un gioco proposto dal New Yorker. Ogni settimana viene posta una domanda a cui i lettori sono invitati a rispondere, in modo divertente, via Facebook o Twitter. La domanda della scorsa settimana era: "If you could eliminate a single word from the English language, what would it be?" Il risultato è stato abbastanza inconsueto. "In the end, there was a runaway un-favorite: “moist.” People, particularly women, evidently prefer aridity". newyorker.


It's Dangerous to Be an Artist

La (o il?) Los Angeles Review of Books ha rinnovato il suo sito, arricchendolo con diverse funzioni e sezioni, tra cui una dedicata alle interviste. Dall'intervista a David Cronenberg, It's Dangerous to Be an Artist, "It's dangerous to be an artist. That's what we talk about in Naked Lunch. It's dangerous on many different levels. Politically it can be dangerous, but psychologically it can be quite dangerous too. You make yourself very vulnerable. You put yourself out there and of course you open yourself up to criticism and attack. And so you have to be strong if you're going to make movies. But once you accept that movies can come from anywhere, that a movie can come from a dream or a conversation or a newspaper article, or it could be based on real people, you can expand that and say it could come from a work of art that someone has already done. It could be a play, it could be a novel, it could be a remake of another movie, and of course I've done all those things, and in each case the satisfaction comes from making a good movie; not from where the movie comes from. I don't have to question it if I find the story interesting". larob.


Charlotte's Web compie 60 anni

White nel suo studio in Maine
White had loved Maine since early childhood, when his family began spending a glorious month there every summer, in part to discourage his hay fever. Rustic cabins with their rusty screened windows, a canoe in dawn fog, sun-warmed gray wooden docks, fishing from a boat while a moss-lidded bait can waited at his feet — the annual sojourns left such memories surrounded with a golden nostalgia White recalled all his life. ...
Often in his barn White stopped to admire the artistry of a particular spider, and one evening he watched her spin an egg sac in a web over the doorway. When she didn’t return during the next few nights, he cut down the sac, which seemed to be woven of peach-colored cotton candy, and took it along in a small box to his New York apartment. Eventually tiny air holes in the box served as escape hatches for hundreds of spiderlings who then drifted around the room on silken filaments. Michael Sims, nytbr.


Hand on the Shoulder

E' il titolo della nuova, bella storia di Ian McEwan, pubblicata questa settimana dal New Yorker. Deborah Treisman intervista lo scrittore: 
Your story in this week’s issue, “Hand on the Shoulder,” is about a twenty-one-year-old university student who is tapped for British secret intelligence by an older professor at Cambridge in 1972. What drew you to this subject?
It’s a very interesting period, I think—the Cold War—not only with respect to nuclear weapons and all the paranoia and suspicion in politics and the military but in the cultural sphere, too. It’s salutary to remember that the C.I.A. poured hundreds of millions into culture. For example, there was a festival of atonal music in Paris in 1950, entirely funded by the C.I.A. Can you imagine a less attractive festival? They paid for tours by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Abstract Expressionist art exhibitions. The aim was to persuade especially left-of-center European intellectuals that the United States was a powerhouse of culture, because there was a widespread assumption, so the C.I.A. believed, that Europeans thought America was just an empty-headed place of money and loudness, with no depth. So I wanted to try to construct a love story set against the background of this period—and the precise methods by which a young girl was drawn into the security service, MI5, were what fascinated me. newyorker.


La libreria di Churchill

One could hardly call the area around Fifty-second Street, between Park and Madison Avenues in Manhattan, off the beaten path. The sleekly designed New York City Ferrari dealership sits two blocks away on Fifty-fifth, the Cartier American flagship store is one block down in a six-story neo-Renaissance style, and the archbishop of New York conducts holy business at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral just a few skips down the road. Midtown West isn’t exactly a destination for book shoppers—not flush with indie shops like Brooklyn, bereft of the used-paperback vendors who line the streets along various parts of Greenwich Village. But 55 East Fifty-second’s marble lobby, inside the triangle-shaped office building with a Gotham-style green-glass facade, conceals an equitably valuable treasure in the world’s only standing bookstore dedicated to the works of England’s former prime minister, Winston Churchill - Chartwell Booksellers. And while the tiny bookstore might seem at odds with its location, it actually makes perfect sense that one of history’s best-dressed leaders would have a store in one of the world’s most upscale shopping districts. parisreview.


Di notte, in bagno...

Ferdinando Scianna, 1997
Has there ever been any survey conducted among those who lock themselves in the bathroom inquiring how they spend their time? Do they read, smoke, talk to themselves, think things over, say their prayers, or just stare into space? If not, how come? All those lights burning in bathrooms late at night in large and small cities must indicate someone is doing much more in them than just answering the call of nature. Wives slipping away from husbands who snore, husbands kept awake by their wives grinding their teeth, or just plain old insomniacs, they seek a refuge, a quiet place to read and meditate. Charles Simic sul nybooks.

Quante storie dietro le luci notturne che fuoriescono dalle finestre dei bagni.



A Girl and Her Pig

A Girl and Her Pig è il titolo del primo libro di cucina di April Bloomfield, chef e co-proprietaria di tre noti ristoranti di NYC, The Spotted Pig, The Breslin Bar & Dining Room (citati dalla guida Michelin) e The John Dory Oyster Bar. "The cookbook, which Bloomfield collaborated on with the food writer J. J. Goode, enthusiastically advocates for the oft-derided British cuisine, championing hearty, rustic dishes. Alongside recipes inspired by Marcella Hazan and England’s Mediterranean neighbors (gnudi, mussels stuffed with mortadella, carta da musica with bottarga), appear Anglo-Saxon classics like potato bread, beef-and-blue-cheese pie, trifle, liver and onions, “faggots” (baby-fist-size packets of pork cheeks), and Eton mess". newyorker.


Negative Space

E' il titolo di una bella growing-up story a New York negli anni Settanta, di Thomas Beller. "There is so much action in New York one is sometimes perversely excited by those moments, or those places, when one is not part of it. Where nothing is happening. These places, in turn, become little air-pockets of possibility - what I call negative space. They are unidentified, off the grid, the staging areas for trysts, seductions, encounters. They are the places where crimes are committed, of one kind or another. The most conspicuous, hiding-in-plain-sight negative space in New York is Central Park". nybooks.


Editoria: 10 notizie buone e 10 cattive

Ne elenco 1 e 1. Delle cattive riporto la n. 5: A book has less than a 1% chance of being stocked in an average bookstore.

Delle buone anche la n. 5: Books are not going to disappear. Books will always exist in one form or another -- digital, audio, interactive, and more -- though the days of bound pages of ink-on-paper may be numbered. We humans are story-telling creatures with a strong impulse to share our stories with one another, and with future generations. Books, in whatever format, play a vital role in conveying information, data, stories, ideas, and values across generations, cultures, and time. huffingtonpost.


Pedro E. Guerrero

The Living Garage, 1959
Pedro E. Guerrero, who will turn 95 later this year, for many years was Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorite lensman.
It is particularly welcome then, that the Julius Shulman Institute at the Woodbury School of Architecture in Burbank has organized Pedro E. Guerrero: Photographs of Modern Life, the first major retrospective of his work, which traces his career from the late 1930s through the 1960s.  
We can see why America’s greatest architect favored Guerrero, for no other photographer has better understood how Wright integrated his buildings into their natural settings. But the architect’s sustained patronage was not enough to support Guerrero and his growing family, and after serving in the army during World War II he turned to commercial photography in New York City and moved to New Canaan, Connecticut - then the epicenter of Modernist residential design - though he always remained on call to shoot his mentor’s latest creations. Martin Filler, nybooks.


"Kissed the plump mellow yellow smellow melons of her rump."

"Kissed the plump mellow yellow smellow melons of her rump," è decisamente una frase notevole: linguisticamente creativa, piena di ritmo, magica. Chi l'ha scritta? James Joyce o il rapper surrealista Kool Keith? Cliccate qui per vedere se riuscite a riconoscere una serie di frasi di Joyce e Keith.


Perché leggere Omero oggi

E come leggerlo e tradurlo. Di queste interessanti questioni discute Daniel Mendelsohn.
How are the classics relevant to our times? What insights into modern life and politics do they give?
I’m going to quote my dad here, who is a scientist and has spent the last few years reading the classics, for the first time in many cases. He put it brilliantly when he said: “As long as human nature doesn’t change, which it never will, the classics have something to tell us.” People aren’t different now, they just have better gadgets. If you want to know about war, or about the manipulation of language in the service of political agendas, it’s all there. There is nothing that happened in 2003 AD that is substantively or qualitatively different from what happened in 431 BC. It’s only the details which have changed. Good literature always illuminates human nature and human action, and this is a literature that precedes everything else. So as long as people are the same, the classics are always relevant. thebrowser.


The Politics of the Polysyllabic

Un'interessante intervista a Mark Dery sull'uso ricercato della lingua - delle parole polisillabe, appunto - in inglese. "Poetic excess takes the devil's side, in the Anglo-American mind, of the Artificiality/Authenticity binary, and thus is highly suspect. In the same way that English fiction used the polymorphous perversity of gothic ornamentation in Italian architecture and art, as well the operatic excesses of the Catholic mass, to signify decadence and depravity, Anglo-American culture, from Samuel Johnson through Orwell's Politics and the English Language and on, into Strunk and White, and those 'Rules for Writing' manifestos from bestselling novelists that get handed around the Web, views with deep-dyed suspicion prose style that embraces arcane vocabulary, self-conscious wordplay, linguistic experimentation (for example, neologisms), complex Proustian syntax, lengthy Jamesian paragraphs, arch or ironic tone, and a discursive, flaneur-like approach to getting from here to there, rather than the shortest distance between point A and point B preferred by our age of time famine, Twitter attention spans, and corporatist, PowerPoint pedagogy". acceler8or.

Di Mark Dery è appena uscito un libro sull'argomento, dal titolo I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-By Essays on American Dread, American Dreams (University of Minnesota Press).


I diari di Susan Sontag

Sontag nel 1962
Esce proprio oggi il secondo volume dei diari di Susan Sontag, As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks 1963-1980 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), a cura di David Rieff. Adam Kirsch li commenta in un lungo saggio, molto interessante. "For the truth is that Sontag spends very little time, in the diaries as edited by David Rieff at any rate, worrying about her career, or about what the public thinks of her. She is far too intent on her own inner experience, on the creation of her self, to care about her image—something that might have surprised Paglia or Ozick, for whom that image seemed so carefully cultivated. And the utter sincerity of the diaries, the sense that Sontag is always able to speak honestly to and about herself, is what makes them such compelling documents. The contrast with the recently published diaries of Alfred Kazin is striking: Where Kazin is always exhorting and dramatizing himself, Sontag seems genuinely to explore and challenge herself". tablet


Parole bandite

Divorce. Dinosaurs, Birthdays. Religion. Halloween. Christmas. Television. These are a few of the 50-plus words and references the New York City Department of Education is hoping to ban from the city’s standardized tests.
In its request for proposal, the NYC Department of Education explained it wanted to avoid certain words if the "the topic is controversial among the adult population and might not be acceptable in a state-mandated testing situation; the topic has been overused in standardized tests or textbooks and is thus overly familiar and/or boring to students; the topic appears biased against (or toward) some group of people." cnn.


On Fact-checking, Again

Christian Lorentzen, giornalista newyorchese che ora lavora a Londra, mette alla berlina l'ossesione degli americani per il fact-checking. Dopo aver riportato una conversazione a un party con una conoscente che lavora nell'editoria, commenta, "If I were writing this for an American publication, I'd be under the burden of revealing the woman's identity, and a fact-checker would call her to confirm what she said and what I said, what magazine she wrote for, whether our conversation ended with her going to get a new drink, what sort of drink it was, whether we were talking alone, whether I might have left anyone out of the conversation. ... A real go-getter, the auteur type, might go so far as to figure out what bar we were at, at what time, the colour of the woman's hair, what she was wearing, her height, whether she had written any books, how they were received, how many they sold, her marital status, the dress she wore to her wedding, the names of her children, what sort of horses she rides, what sort of crowd it was, the level of anxiety in the room, whether we were upstairs or downstairs and what colour the wallpaper was. lrb.


L'Iliade rivisitata

Come avevo osservato in un post precedente, l'Iliade gode di grande popolarità in questo periodo, sia in America che in Inghilterra. In un post sul New York Review of Books, Christopher Carroll parla, male, di un recente (si è concluso il 1 aprile) monologo basato sull'Iliade e recitato da Denis O'Hare al New York Theater Workshop. Trova che la lingua della traduzione - per voler essere alla portata di tutti - sia insipida. 
Di tutt'altra natura, invece, l'esperimento poetico della grande poetessa inglese Alice Oswald in Memorial (Faber). "In this short volume of verse, Oswald attempts to convey an aspect of the poem that she feels is often ignored - its enargeia,' which,' she writes, 'means something like bright unbearable reality. It's the word used when the gods come to earth not in disguise but as themselves.' Like O'Hare and Peterson, she attempts to capture the Iliad's relentless depiction of the waste of war. She does this by gutting the entire Trojan War narrative  - no stolen brides, no quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon - leaving behind only Homer's pastoral similes and biographies of the hundreds of soldiers slain". nybooks.


Literary Magazines

In un'intervista al Johns Hopkins Magazine Lorin Stein, il direttore della Paris Review, parla del ruolo, ancora importante, delle riviste letterarie.
"We don't need to find a mass market, - Stein says.  - The Paris Review needs to be trusted enough that you make the time [to read it] because we are always going to publish things that are a little bit spiky, a little bit outside one’s comfort zone. We’re a laboratory for fiction and poetry. And if you want to do that and not publish stuff that is easy to publish, then you really need to have a very strong identity [and] people need to trust that brand." jhu.


Flash Fiction

Defined as stories of 1,000 words or less, flash fiction has also spawned microfiction, hint fiction, short short fiction, and a host of other indistinguishable subtypes. Flash fiction is not really a new innovation - a hundred years ago, Franz Kafka and Robert Walser wrote pieces that could fit the label - but it's the kind of cultural product that's easily hawked as suited for our age.

L'articolo di fatto si occupa del bravo scrittore israeliano, Etgar Keret, ma a me interessava soprattutto l'espressione flash fiction, per me nuova. capitalnewyork.