Olive Oil

Si è parlato anche in Italia di Extra Virgin Suicide, un fumetto che illustra la produzione del nostro olio d'oliva extra vergine. Le vignette, molto carine e sofisticate, sono di Nicholas Blechman, che è stato mio studente, alla fine degli anni '80, a Brown. Molto bravo nello studio - oltre che nel disegno - e piuttosto alternativo nella vita. nyt.


MoMA Loses Face

The Museum of Modern Art’s announcement on January 8 that it will indeed tear down Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s American Folk Art Museum building of 1997–2001 felt like hearing that a relative or close friend had finally succumbed to an incurable disease. Even though the outcome had been expected, it was a shock nonetheless.
That news seemed all the more terrible coming three weeks after the opening only few miles away of Williams and Tsien’s latest work, their Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center at Lakeside, in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, a public ice skating rink that won immediate raves as an exemplar of contemporary civic architecture. The new facility offers further proof that its creators—who, like their most salient precursor, Louis Kahn, have eschewed commercial work in favor of cultural and educational commissions—are among the most thoughtful exponents of the building art today. Martin Filler, nybooks
Nella foto: Tod Williams and Billie Tsien's American Folk Art Museum. 


The War Between the Houses

Was Emily Dickinson a radical poet of the avant-garde, challenging the regularized notions of predominantly male poets and editors regarding stanza shape, typographical publication and distribution, spelling and punctuation, visual and verbal presentation, erotic love, and so on? Or was she a poet of restraint, who restricted herself to a few traditional patterns of meter and stanza, referred to the wayward Whitman as “disgraceful,” and wore her prim white dress as a sign of those renunciations best expressed in that wildest word “No”?
It is a conflict reaching back to what has come to be called “The War Between the Houses” ... Christopher Benfey, nybooks.


Tradurre Kafka (in inglese)

Dalla prefazione di Susan Bernofsky alla sua nuova traduzione di The Metamorphosis di Kafka (Norton), una bella lezione di traduzione: "The epithet ungeheueres Ungeziefer in the opening sentence poses one of the greatest challenges to the translator. Both the adjective ungeheuer (meaning “monstrous” or “huge”) and the noun Ungeziefer are negations— virtual nonentities—prefixed by un. Ungeziefer comes from the Middle High German ungezibere, a negation of tti’ber), meaning “sacrifice” or “sacrificial animal.” An ungezibere, then, is an unclean animal unfit for sacrifice, and Ungeziefer describes the class of nasty creepy-crawly things. The word in German suggests primarily six-legged critters, though it otherwise resembles the English word “vermin” (which refers primarily to rodents). Ungeziefer is also used informally as the equivalent of “bug,” though the connotation is “dirty, nasty bug”—you wouldn’t apply the word to cute, helpful creatures like ladybugs. In my translation, Gregor is transformed into “some sort of monstrous insect” with “some sort of” added to blur the borders of the somewhat too specific “insect”; I think Kafka wanted us to see Gregor’s new body and condition with the same hazy focus with which Gregor himself discovers them". newyorker.
he Old High German zebar (related to the Old English


Marianne Moore

“Mon Dieu, what a mother!,” one of Moore’s literary friends, the suffragist Alyse Gregory, confided in a letter to a friend. The domination of Mary Moore over her daughter—the pair lived together in ostentatious frugality until Mrs. Moore’s death in 1947, when the poet was about to turn 60—riveted the New York literary world during their lives. Gregory added that Mrs. Moore was “inexorably, permanently, eternally rooted and not to be overlooked, and remorselessly conversational.” Yet Mrs. Moore had her distinguished admirers, too. The artist Joseph Cornell saluted her “almost silent way of saying important things.” Edmund Wilson told Allen Tate that Mrs. Moore was one of the most intellectual women he knew. theatlantic.

Linda Leavell, Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore (FS)


Lavorare alla libreria Rizzoli di NYC

Ce lo racconta lo scrittore Jon Michaud, "Though I submitted applications to Endicott, Books & Co., Gotham, and the rest, none save Rizzoli offered me a job. I started as a clerk on September 15, 1991, and worked at the store until June of 1994, eventually rising to the position of merchandising manager and buyer. That’s three Christmas seasons, each of which I remember like a case of food poisoning after a great meal. “Libraries raised me,” Ray Bradbury famously said. Rizzoli did much the same for me. It was my first New York mentor, the place where I learned about so many of the things college didn’t teach me. I had come confidently, cockily to New York to be a writer, but in the light of the store’s Diocletian window, I was soon made aware that I was an ignoramus. Rizzoli introduced me to Egon Schiele, Keith Haring, Palladio, Robert A. M. Stern, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman, and the music of Jacques Brel, Charles Trenet, and Paolo Conte. In those carpeted aisles I first read the words of Montaigne, Dante, and Italo Svevo. The store and its senior staff also schooled me in the ways of the city, the constant combustion of commerce, art, status, desire, work, and play that dnewyorker.
rives New York".


Oxford University Press

OUP is one of Britain's truly great institutions, up there, or nearly, with the NHS and the BBC. As in these other cases, its modern history has been largely dominated by the struggle to preserve its high ideals and standards against the tide of commercialism. As its secretary (chief executive) put it in 1954: "The essence of the Press is that it is not a business." guardian.

The History of Oxford University Press, Volume III: 1896-1970 a cura di Ian Gadd, Simon Eliot e Wm. Roger Louis (OUP, of course, e 100 sterline).


A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof

Il titolo completo è: Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof. L'autrice è Alisa Solomon, prof. alla scuola di giornalismo della Columbia e la casa editrice Metropolitan Books.
"As for Tevye—well, that’s a story too. Like every mythic figure, he’s been shaped and reshaped in the telling, adapted to the needs of successive artists and audiences. The icon who has circled the globe at the center of Fiddler on the Roof, the personification of shtetl nostalgia, at one with “tradition” and his arcadian community, is very different from the complex, ironic, ambivalent character that Sholem Aleichem [nella foto] built up, story by episodic story, over the course of more than 20 years, in intimate contact with his Yiddish-speaking readership. That transformation, broadly speaking, is the subject of Wonder of Wonders. Alisa Solomon’s subtitle is, if anything, too modest. Her book is nothing less than a cultural history of American Jewry as refracted through its most celebrated artifact. Fiddler, which debuted in 1964, is placed within its moment. ... 
But what exactly did that Jewishness consist of? If Fiddler marked the early days of multiculturalism, it also represented the climax of the process by which the Jews of Eastern Europe were rendered safe for their grandchildren, reduced to a set of reassuring stereotypes—poverty and piety, laughter and tears, candlesticks and chicken soup and “warmth”—that preserved them not so much in amber as in schmaltz. The paintings of Chagall, the photographs of Roman Vishniac (redacted to eliminate signs of prosperity or modernity), books like Life Is With People (1952) and, indeed, The World of Sholem Aleichem (1943): for the new suburbanizing Jews, those Unitarians with yarmulkes, such artifacts performed a complicated kind of psychic work. They gave them a past to adore, but also one that they could proudly leave behind". William Deresiewicz, theatlantic.


Evgeny Morozov

Dato che di solito sono io a tradurre gli articoli di Morozov per il Corriere, ho letto con interesse il profilo di questo giovane e geniale iconoclasta del mondo tecnologico. "Depending on whom you ask, Evgeny Morozov is either the most astute, feared, loathed, or useless writer about digital technology working today. Just 29 years old, from an industrial town in Belarus, he appeared as if out of nowhere in the late aughts, amid the conference-goers and problem solvers working to shape our digital futures, a hostile messenger from a faraway land brashly declaring the age of big ideas and interconnected bliss to be, well, bullshit.
To say that Morozov has gone out of his way to irritate powerful and influential people in the tech world doesn’t quite capture it. Doing so is his primary occupation. In the Morozovian worldview, New York University professor and social-media theorist Clay Shirky is a “consultant-cum-intellectual”; Google’s mission is to “monetize all of the world’s information and make it universally inaccessible and profitable”; and Tim O’Reilly, the Silicon Valley publisher and venture capitalist who coined “Web 2.0,” is an Orwellian “meme hustler” and the main culprit behind “the enduring emptiness of our technology debates.” To millions of viewers, TED talks are inspirational speeches about “ideas worth spreading” in science and technology. To Morozov they are a “sinister” hyping of “ideas no footnotes can support.” columbiajournalismreview.


The Great American Novel

The phrase “The Great American Novel” means something more than the sum of its parts. There are plenty of great American novels that are not Great American Novels: Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady doesn’t qualify, and neither does Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, or Willa Cather’s The Lost Lady, even though everyone acknowledges them as classics. No, the Great American Novel—always capitalized, like the United States of America itself—has to be a book that contains and explains the whole country, that makes sense of a place that remains, after 230-odd years, a mystery to itself. If other countries don’t fetishize their novels in quite this way—if the French don’t sit around waiting for someone to write the Great French Novel—it may be because no country is so much in need of explanation. ... Adam Kirsch su harvardmagazine.

Vedi: Lawrence Buell, The Dream of the Great American Novel (Belknap Press). 


Roth Unbound

Roth Unbound: A Writer and his Books, di Claudia Roth Pierpoint (Jonathan Cape) è una sorta di biografia di Philip Roth e di critica dei suoi libri. Tra l'altro parla del profondo rapporto tra lo scrittore americano e Primo Levi. Ian Thomson dice:
"From the late 1950s to the present, says Pierpont, Roth has remained faithful to the theme of America and the vagaries of American Jewish life. Not exclusively, though: his novel Operation Shylock (1993), set partly in Israel, pays anguished if comic tribute to the Italian writer and Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi, whom Roth had long admired.
Roth met Levi in the spring of 1986. If Levi was unprepared for Roth’s engagingly gentle presence, Roth found Levi surprisingly sociable. (“With some people you just unlock,” Roth recalled.) As they said goodbye outside the Italian Cultural Institute in London, Levi told Roth: “You know, this has all come too late.” The encounter nevertheless proved to be one the most important in 20th-century literature. Roth afterwards interviewed Levi for the New York Times and helped to consolidate Levi’s reputation across the Atlantic. Accompanied by Bloom, Roth had called on Levi in September 1986 at the paint and varnish factory outside Turin where he had worked as an industrial chemist. The staff were warned not to mention Portnoy’s Complaint, as Roth was apparently no longer so fond of his “masturbation novel”.
Seven months later, Levi was dead. The effect on Roth of Levi’s suicide in 1987 was “staggering”, Roth told Pierpont, adding: “It hit me like the assassinations of the sixties.” Although Roth had cultivated friendships with other European writers, notably Ivan Klíma and Milan Kundera, his friendship with Levi, Pierpoint says, had gone “remarkably deep”. ft.


Populirizing Punctuation

Avviamo l'anno 2014 con un post sulla punteggiatura, uno degli argomenti che ci è caro. Anche se il segno @ si può ascrivere alla punteggiatura?
"If popularizing a punctuation mark is difficult, the task seems to be at least marginally easier if the symbol has historical roots. Unlike the interrobang, whose conception, creation, rise, and fall were all observable within a decade, the @ symbol has been around for centuries and is now enjoying widespread resurgence thanks to the Internet. While its exact origins are unknown, the earliest recorded use of the @ symbol is in a letter sent from Seville to Rome, dated May 4, 1536. In it, a Florentine merchant named Francesco Lapi discusses ships arriving in Spain from the New World and the price at which they sold one amphora of wine. An amphora was a standard Roman commercial measure (equivalent to about 26 liters) and seems to have set the precedent for the symbol’s use: From all other extant records, “@” has related the quantity of a product sold @ a certain price. weeklystandard.