Gli aggiornamenti riprenderanno a metà gennaio 2015


Un appartamento a NY

Ho scelto questo post per la foto. E per l'argomento: gli appartamenti di Manhattan. "And yet apartments nevertheless share certain qualities with stage sets—each room, even a bathroom, is a scenario into which people exit and enter. The sense of performance and audience—and, by extension, voyeurism—is built into the landscape. To glance at the façade of an apartment building, especially at night, when the windows are a crossword puzzle of light and dark boxes, is to be reminded that there may be someone looking back at you. This tension—between the apartment as a redoubt and source of privacy and as a place of performance, where privacy is relentlessly invaded—is further amplified by the fact that apartment buildings are filled with spaces that are public and yet, in some ways, especially private, because you never expect to see someone there: places like the laundry room, the storage room, the roof, or the backstairs". Thomas Beller, newyorker.


Several years later, I noticed a disturbing pattern: many of the things I wrote about in my first three novels later came true in my life. For example, in my first novel, I wrote about a character getting a fatal brain tumor, and soon afterward, one of my best friends got a brain tumor and eventually died. I almost felt as though I had caused this tragedy by simply writing about it. In my second novel, my main character falls in love with a weather scientist who looks like Jon Bon Jovi. They have a strange and tumultuous relationship. Not long afterward, I was at a literary party and in came a man who looked like Jon Bon Jovi. I introduced myself. He was an astrophysicist. We had a passionate but stormy romantic relationship for a year. And in my third novel, the main character suffers from an ailment I’d never experienced nor heard of and thought I’d made up: she finds herself, to a painful degree, wanting nothing; she has lost her desire for all things. Soon after, the same disorder befell me—turns out it’s a symptom of depression, called anhedonia.
None of my novels had been autobiographical, but after writing them, I was starting to feel that while I wasn’t writing from life; life was writing from me. Amanda Filipacchi sul newyorker.

Anche a me è successo.



"Wikipedia is amazing. But it’s become a rancorous, sexist, elitist, stupidly bureaucratic mess" dice il sottotilo di un'attenta analisi dell'enciclopedia online. "Unlike pretty much every other website of note, Wikipedia really is an experiment in controlled anarchy, and its strengths and weaknesses stem largely from the fact that there is no central authority with its hand on the tiller". David Auerbach, slate.


Verrua Savoia sul NYT

Qualche giorno fa il NYT ha dedicato un lungo articolo a Verrua Savoia, il villaggio piemontese (provincia di Torino) più cablato d'Italia.
"After all, roughly a third of Italians have never used the Internet, giving the country one of the lowest rates of usage in Europe. Residents can recall providers laughing over the phone at their request for an Internet hookup, or the perplexed look of technicians upon arriving in Verrua Savoia, where just 1,500 residents live in dozens of small settlements spread over nearly 20 miles of valleys and steep hillsides in northern Italy.
Even so, some here believed they had the right to join the digital world, to pay their bills, do their banking or make a doctor’s appointment online.
One was Daniele Trinchero, a professor at the nearby Polytechnic University of Turin, who helped set up a nonprofit association that started last week and that offers fellow citizens what both the state and telecommunications companies have so far failed to deliver. The group may be the first of its kind in Italy". Gaia Pianigiani, nyt.


Una lezione di stile

Alfred Bendiner: Sweet Innocence, 1936
For some time, I’d wanted to teach these two texts, both of which I’d long admired: the opening twenty-five pages of Rebecca West’s Greenhouse with Cyclamens I (1946), an excerpt from the first section of her lengthy report on the Nuremberg trials; and William Finnegan’s 1994 account of a trial in Manhattan in which he sat on the jury. Both had appeared in The New Yorker. It was partly a coincidence that we were reading them when so much national attention was focused on the Brown and Garner cases. ...
I’d thought it would be fun and interesting to teach these essays in a course on literary style, as a very general lesson about how two different styles can be used to portray a similar setting: in the texts in question, courtrooms in which cases of vastly unequal magnitude were being tried. Francine Prose, nybooks


Colonel Harland Sanders

Colonel Harland Sanders, the fried-chicken magnate, who seems in public to be as jolly and serene as Santa Claus, is actually one of the world’s foremost worriers,” William Whitworth wrote in The New Yorker in 1970. “The Colonel maintains a vigilant fretfulness in the face of overwhelming good fortune. He has won money, fame, and the affection of his fellow-citizens”—and yet, all the same, he is “haunted by the fear that someone, somewhere, is doing something to hurt his chicken.” Such is the life of the businessperson. The competition never ends. Success leads to fear. Then, ideally, fear leads to invention". 

Dura è la vita di Colonel Harland Sanders ... e dei suoi polli.

Il New Yorker propone dei vecchi articoli su businessmen. newyorker.



Devo ammetterlo, ho scelto questo articolo per via della parola important-itis. Come potremmo tradurla in italiano? Perché mi sembra urgente introdurla. Qui questa malattia viene attribuita a Leonard Bernstein da Stephen Sondheim, lo sceneggiatore di West Side Story, che una volta disse, ‘Lenny had a bad case of important-itis.’  Christopher Bray, spectator.

By the way, è uscita una biografia di Bernstein, Leonard Bernstein di Allen Shawn (Yale).


L'evoluzione dell'inferno

"Hell has changed a lot over the years. The Old Testament refers exclusively to sheol, the traditional Hebrew underworld, a place of stillness in which both the righteous and the unrighteous wander in shadows. There’s no fiery torment, no wailing or gnashing of teeth. In the New Testament, several writers refer to this place under its Greek name, hades. There’s also a number of passages about Gehenna, literally “the Valley of Hinnom”, which was a real area outside Jerusalem that served as the city dump. Fires burned there constantly, to incinerate the garbage; it was also a place where the bodies of criminals were burned. The Jewish rabbinical tradition envisioned Gehenna as a purgatorial place of atonement for the ungodly. Another Greek term, tartarus, appears only once, when the author of 1 Peter writes about the angel rebellion that took place before the creation of the world. ...
Like so many formerly oppositional institutions, the church is now becoming a symptom of the culture rather than an antidote to it, giving us one less place to turn for a sober counter-narrative to the simplistic story of moral progress that stretches from Silicon Valley to Madison Avenue. Hell may be an elastic concept, as varied as the thousands of malevolencies it has described throughout history, but it remains our most resilient metaphor for the evil both around and within us". 


Campus Novels

Un genere che mi appassiona, non solo perché mi ricorda anni molto divertenti passati in diversi campus degli USA come studentessa e come prof., ma anche perché il campus rappresenta un microcosmo adattissimo alla creazione di storie, un villaggio protetto e privilegiato abitato da gente interessante, vitale e molto disposta a intrecciare ogni genere di rapporto reciproco. 
Un articolo raccoglie la voce di cinque prof. di letteratura che analizzano cinque campus novels: "Former Wellesley College and Cornell University lecturer Vladimir Nabokov is cited twice, for two different books, while ex-University of Sydney, University of Cambridge and Wolverhampton Polytechnic academic Howard Jacobson also figures prominently". timeshighereducation.


The Forever Professors

Il sottotitolo dice: "Academics who don’t retire are greedy, selfish, and bad for students". Anche in America il corpo docenti sta invecchiando. In America i professori non hanno limiti d'età per andare in pensione e di solito tendono a continuare a insegnare fino a tarda età. Secondo Laurie Fendrich, prof. emerita di arte a Hofstra University questo è un gran problema:

"The average age for all tenured professors nationwide is now approaching 55 and creeping upward; the number of professors 65 and older more than doubled between 2000 and 2011. In spite of those numbers, according to a Fidelity Investments study conducted about a year ago, three-quarters of professors between 49 and 67 say they will either delay retirement past age 65 or—gasp!—never retire at all. They ignore, or are oblivious to, the larger implications for their students, their departments, and their colleges". chronicleofhighereducation.