The Strand, uno dei luoghi cult di Manhattan, ha subito un rinnovamento e non è più quello di una volta. "Concerned with the persistent competition from online booksellers and
chain stores, the Strand recently hired a design company to advise them
as to “what customers want now and in the future,” Eddie Sutton, the
store’s manager, who has been there since 1991, said. What many
customers want turns out to be the convenience and variety found online.
And so the Strand traded the bag check for video cameras and
plainclothes security. The book-buying counter was moved from the front
to the back of the store. The leather-bound sets (Will and Ariel Durant,
the complete works of Dickens, Toynbee) behind the cashier were pushed
aside to fit books arranged by the color of their spines. The non-book
section was expanded to sell socks, lollipops, and greeting cards
alongside T-shirts, refrigerator magnets, and totes bearing slogans like
“Prose Before Hoes.” You can now mail letters from inside the store. Rachel Shteir, newyorker.
Un lungo articolo sulle riviste letterarie che sembrerebbero sparite, almeno dal panorama editoriale italiano, e invece pare siano ancora fiorenti in America. "Why on Earth would you start a literary magazine? You won’t get rich, or
even very famous. You’ll have to keep your day job, unless you’re a
student or so rich you don’t need a day job. You and your lucky friends
and the people you hire—if you can afford to pay them—will use their
time and energy on page layouts, bookkeeping, distribution, Web site
coding and digital upkeep, and public readings and parties and
Kickstarters and ways to wheedle big donors or grant applications so
that you can put out issue two, and then three. You’ll lose time you
could devote to your own essays or fiction or poems. Once your journal
exists, it will wing its way into a world already full of journals, like
a paper airplane into a recycling bin, or onto a Web already crowded
with literary sites. Why would you do such a thing?" Stephen Burt, newyorker.
The Odd Woman and the City, Gornick’s brief new collection
of meditations and anecdotes, shows her still wrestling in old age with
the same basic problems that have always animated her work. The need
for, and the impossibility of, romantic connection; the erotic embrace
of the city, as a substitute for personal intimacy; the consolations and
frustrations of friendship; above all, the moral struggle to make an
independent self—these have been, and still are, Gornick’s great
What gives Gornick’s writing its disturbing charge is the way she
never comes to the end of these subjects—never achieves the kind of
self-understanding or resignation that might lead to wisdom. Adam Kirsch, tablet.
Vivian Gornick,The Odd Woman and the City(Farrar, Straus & Giroux).
Coleman spoke little of himself, and dismissed the idea that he was
exceptional. The ‘autobiography of my life is like everyone else’s’, he
wrote in the liner notes to his 1960 album This Is Our Music.
‘Born, work, sad and happy and etc.’ But the journey that led Coleman
from Fort Worth, Texas, where he was born to a ‘poorer than poor’ family
in 1930, to international fame as a free jazz innovator was anything
but ordinary, and required no small amount of courage. The world of
saloons, honky tonk clubs and travelling minstrel bands in which he
performed in his teens was dangerous. Coleman was jailed for having long
hair. When a white woman raised her dress over his head in the back of a
Texas club, he knew he could be lynched if a white man saw them. In
Baton Rouge, a group of thugs smashed his saxophone case, and left him
with a collarbone injury that took years to heal. Adam Shatz. lrb.
Un saggio interessante di William Giraldi sull'essere uno scrittore cattolico. "It’s not altogether easy being a Catholic, and it’s immeasurably harder
being a novelist, so you might imagine the myriad conundrums of being
both. ... In Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, Mary McCarthy admits: “I am
not sorry to have been a Catholic”—“this sensuous life,” she calls it,
and like Percy and O’Connor she speaks of “the sense of mystery and
wonder,” of how in certain “exalted moments of altruism the soul was
fired with reverence.” newrepublic.
My husband and I got married last fall because we wanted to have a party. ... We represent the demographic (white, heterosexual, college-educated)
that looked poised to lead an exodus from marriage and its fusty
shackles as the family-values debate raged. But now, when data suggest
that fewer Americans—across the income spectrum—are getting married than
ever before, our cohort is playing the opposite role. We are the group
most likely to wed, as marriage rates among lower-income men and women
without college degrees rapidly decline. We’re also among those who
count least on the symbolic and actual benefits of the institution: my
husband and I aren’t battling for social validation of our love or for
the conditions of middle-class stability. ... Alice Gregory, theatlantic.
Questa domanda, più o meno, viene fatta ad Adam Kirsch, il quale risponde di sì, naturalmente, ma poi articola la sua risposta in molti modi, per esempio, "Once indifference to audience is ruled out, however, we are left with
the two choices DeLillo describes: The artist can lead or follow. This
way of thinking about art is characteristic of modernity ... The difference between leading and following partly overlaps the
distinction between fine art and commercial art, but the two are not
identical. It is easy to assume that a bad best seller is written
cynically, that anyone could master the formula and please a large
audience. In fact, artists who are immensely popular in their day are
not “following” the audience in a mercenary sense. They are, rather,
people whose spirits happen to find full expression in established,
conventional forms. Such artists take their reward in the present, while
the others, the “leaders,” have no choice but to postpone their reward
into the hypothetical future. But the kingdom of this world and the
kingdom to come are both kingdoms; and it might be impossible to be an
artist without dreaming, however quietly, of sovereignty". nytbooks.
"But the magically appearing bathtubs at the end of Book 10 are a marker
of a very deep-seated feature of Homeric poetry. Objects can be conjured
out of the air by a set of rules for narrative plausibility which are
not ours. Diomedes and Odysseus are rich and powerful. They are
exhausted and they have been successful. Rich and powerful warriors have
baths, so the bathtubs have to be there and must be ‘polished’. The way
Homeric narrative deals with objects is determined not by probability
or the laws of physics, but by social ambience, and by what a poet
thinks an audience is likely to expect". Colin Burrow, LRB.
Homer: ‘The Iliad’ translated by Peter Green (University of California Press).
The slender Russian man is on vacation. He has an arrogantly beautiful
face and is accompanied by an oddly tall little boy, as he stalks up and
down a trout stream in the Wasatch Range, a few miles east of Sandy,
Utah. They deploy butterfly nets. “I walk from 12 to 18 miles a day,” he
writes in a letter mailed in July of 1943, “wearing only shorts and
tennis shoes … always a cold wind blowing in this particular cañon.” Da Robert Roper, Nabokov in America (Bloomsbury USA), theamericanscholar.
Il titolo di questo articolo è particolarmente attraente, "Is Translation an Art or a Math Problem?"
"Translation is possible, and yet we are still bedeviled by conflict.
This fallen state of affairs is often attributed to the translators, who
must not be doing a properly faithful job. The most succinct expression
of this suspicion is “traduttore, traditore,” a common Italian
saying that’s really an argument masked as a proverb. It means,
literally, “translator, traitor,” but even though that is semantically
on target, it doesn’t match the syllabic harmoniousness of the original,
and thus proves the impossibility it asserts". Gideon Lewis-Kraus, nytmagazine.
The Sketchbook Project è un interessante progetto della Brooklyn Art Library. "Zucker and Peterman started the Sketchbook Project out of frustration
with a gallery culture that seemed exploitative and exclusive. “We
wanted to create a community anti-gallery space that was inclusive of
everyone that wanted to be a part of it,” Peterman told me. They were
working on a few crowdsourced art projects at the time (they also tried
soliciting photos, and mailing out canvases for people to paint on), but
the sketchbook collection attracted a surprising amount of enthusiasm
and quickly took over their business: now roughly thirty-four thousand
sketchbooks line the walls of the Brooklyn Art Library, and about half
of those are scanned in the online archive. In the project’s busiest
years, the number of people requesting blank books has neared fourteen
thousand". Jordan Kisner, newyorker.
There is something embarrassing about working from home. You wonder what
the UPS man thinks of you when he delivers advance copies of new
books. So this guy just reads all day? You worry that the
prominent figure you are interviewing by phone can hear the refrigerator
door or the neighbors’ kids upstairs. (Skype video interviews are even
worse; the trick is finding a camera angle that doesn’t reveal anything
blatantly domestic.) Evan Hughes, newyorker.
Book of Numbers (Random House),
the new book by Joshua Cohen, is the first novel I can think of that
manages to be both auto-fictional and hysterically realistic at the same
time. This feat of genre-straddling ambition speaks both to Cohen’s
enormous talent and to his continuing faith in the possibilities of the
novel. As in an auto-fiction, this is a book by a writer called Joshua
Cohen about a writer called Joshua Cohen, though how close the fictional
Cohen is to his creator remains impossible to know. Both grew up on the
Jersey Shore in the 1980s, and each is the author of a big book about a
Jewish subject: The real Cohen wrote Witz, a 1,000-page
fantasia about the end of American Jewry; while the fictional Cohen
wrote a family memoir about his mother, a Holocaust survivor. These
similarities are enough to pique the kind of interest that—as David
Shields has written in Reality Hunger—only arises when the reader is unsure how much of what he is reading is truth and how much fiction. Adam Kirsch, tablet.
Il Whitney Museum di Renzo Piano non piace a James Panero. "The new Whitney Museum, designed by Renzo Piano and Renzo Piano Building
Workshop, along with Cooper Robertson, at a cost of $422 million,
opened to much fanfare on May 1. From the outside, it is a jumble of
pipes, stairs, HVAC units, portholes, bending planes of enameled steel,
and what look like a few stone corners hauled off as spoils from the old
Whitney building, that crystalline fortress of solitude on Madison
Avenue designed by Marcel Breuer in 1966, which the new Whitney now
metaphorically explodes, reprocesses, and repackages. Beyond the mere
display of art, this new cultural factory serves double duty as an
incinerator of the museum’s own unwanted past. And unlike the
waste-transfer facility next door, with its idling trucks and
utilitarian sheds parked along the water, which will soon be renewed as
parkland, the Whitney’s new exterior is not a holdover of industrial
blight but the aggressive, purpose-built pastiche of blight. newcriterion.
Even the biographers, watching the life ‘start at zero’, have struggled
to establish where the motivation for the inventiveness came from. The
most popular hypothesis, not least because Hitchcock himself promoted it
so vigorously, concerns timidity. ‘The man who excels at filming fear
is himself a very fearful person,’ Truffaut observed, ‘and I suspect
that this trait of his personality has a direct bearing on his success.’
The most substantial biography to date, by Patrick McGilligan, includes
plenty of anecdotes about fear ... David Trotter, lrb. Ecco le nuove biografie su Hitchcock:
Peter Ackroyd, Alfred Hitchcock (Chatto)
Michael Wood, Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much (New Harvest)
Jan Olsson, Hitchcock à la carte (Duke)
Hitchcock on Hitchcock: Selected Writings and Interviews, Vol. II, a cura di Sidney Gottlieb
William Zinsser, a New York City newspaperman turned freelance magazine
writer who had reinvented himself as a teacher of writing. ... What Bill Zinsser had to offer was unlike anything else in the Yale course catalogue. He had arrived in 1970 ... Officially, “Nonfiction Workshop” was a
residential-college seminar, independent of the English department or
any other department. Before long, word got around about this cheerful
fellow Zinsser, not another eyebrow-arching pipe smoker in an
elbow-patched tweed jacket but a real professional craftsman who had
sneaked in the side entrance of the academy from the real world.
Actually, Bill did own a tweed jacket (or maybe it was polished twill),
and he favored button-down shirts, narrow neckties, unfancy shoes, and
unironic hats (felt Borsalino or straw Panama). He wore glasses and was
slightly built, a pleasant-looking, engaging, well-mannered optimist
steeped in the tribal codes of privileged Wasp self-effacement. We
met for two hours every Thursday afternoon in a comfortably furnished
lounge in Calhoun College. In that room, we mostly listened, as Bill
read, along with examples from his own work, passages from writers I’d
read but hadn’t properly considered (Thoreau, Orwell, Twain, E. B.
White, Red Smith), or knew of but hadn’t much read (Mencken, Perelman,
Wills, Didion, Talese). Some I already revered for their supreme
coolness (Norman Mailer, Hunter Thompson, Tom Wolfe). Others, previously
unknown to me (Alan Moorehead, Michael Arlen, Joseph Mitchell), proved
to be more enduring influences. Mark Singer, newyorker.
Bell'articolo sull'immigrazione di David Brooks, che sfata molti luoghi comuni, "The
nature of global migration is slowly evolving, too. We have an image of
immigrants as the poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
According to this stereotype, immigrants are driven from their homes by
poverty and move elsewhere to compete against the lowest-skilled
immigrants do not come from the poorest countries. Nations like Central
African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger — some of
the poorest countries in the world — have some of the lowest
outmigration rates. Less than 3 percent of their populations live
outside their borders. Their citizens don’t have the resources to move.
immigrants tend to come from middle-class countries, and they migrate
to rich, open ones. ... Meanwhile, globalization, with all its stresses and strains, has created
a large international class of middle-class dreamers: university
graduates who can’t fulfill their aspirations at home and who would
enrich whatever nation is lucky enough to have them". nyt.
The phenomenon of
Philip Roth’s “retirement”—and that seems to be what it is now, a
phenomenon—is not about a writer’s vanity, an ego grown so massive it’s
like a publicity black hole sucking up limelight that might have shined
warmly on other equally deserving authors. Nor is it about an inability
to shut up, even though Roth admitted that his decision to quit writing,
announced abruptly in 2012, had triggered in him an impulse to
No, Roth’s announcement that he would leave the
literary stage, followed by his conspicuous failure to do so in favor of
a series of curtain calls, is about us—Roth’s audience, a
community of readers. We’re the ones endlessly fascinated by Roth’s
penchant to pontificate about himself in public, from an interview with
the BBC aired last spring (titled “Philip Roth Unleashed”) to a promised
appearance on The Colbert Report (reportedly scheduled for
last summer, but apparently scrapped). Through it all, Roth continues to
insist that he’s retreating into full Garbo mode. “You can write it
down,” he told a reporter last May after a star turn at the 92nd Street
Y. “This was absolutely the last public appearance I will make on any
public stage, anywhere”—this just a week before collecting an award from
the Yaddo writer’s retreat and two weeks before accepting an honorary
doctorate at the conservative Jewish Theological Seminary. J.C. Hallman, thebaffler.
Does it pay to be nice? Or is there an advantage to being a jerk? So it was a breath of fresh air when, in 2013, there appeared a book
that brought data into the debate. The author, Adam Grant, is a
33-year-old Wharton professor, and his best-selling book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success,
offers evidence that “givers”—people who share their time, contacts, or
know-how without expectation of payback—dominate the top of their
fields. “This pattern holds up across the board,” Grant wrote—from
engineers in California to salespeople in North Carolina to medical
students in Belgium. Jerry Useem, theatlantic.
Michelle Obama mi piace molto, più del marito. Nel suo discorso al Commencement della Tuskegee University, un'istituzione storicamente nera in Alabama, ha detto di essere nera, infrangendo le regole. "How dare she? The right wing does not allow such a reference. “We” let
“you people” win the White House, which meant that racism is over with
and gone. Difference was abolished. Any mention of it now is “playing
the race card”—and was denounced as such by all the many mouths of the
Right—by Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, and Rush
Limbaugh. Limbaugh shuddered melodramatically at a speech that could
“lead to racial strife unlike any that we who are alive today remember.”
How could an inspiring speech
to students lead to such a doomsday? In her own quiet way Ms. Obama was
breaking all of the four rules of racial discourse the right wing now
wants to enforce". Poi seguono le quattro regole. Garry Wills, nybooks.
our family moved from the West Village to the Upper East Side in 2004,
seeking proximity to Central Park, my in-laws and a good public school, I
thought it unlikely that the neighborhood would hold any big surprises.
For many years I had immersed myself — through interviews, reviews of
the anthropological literature and participant-observation — in the
lives of women from the Amazon basin to sororities at a Big Ten school. I
thought I knew from foreign.
I met the women I came to call the Glam SAHMs, for glamorous
stay-at-home-moms, of my new habitat. My culture shock was immediate and
comprehensive. In a country where women now outpace men in college
completion, continue to increase their participation in the labor force
and make gains toward equal pay, it was a shock to discover that the
most elite stratum of all is a glittering, moneyed backwater. Wednesday Martin, nyt.
Aiuto! Stiamo perdendo il vocabolario della natura. "The substitutions made in the dictionary—the outdoor and the natural
being displaced by the indoor and the virtual—are a small but
significant symptom of the simulated life we increasingly live. Children
are now (and valuably) adept ecologists of the technoscape, with
numerous terms for file types but few for differ-ent trees and
creatures. A basic literacy of landscape is falling away up and down the
ages. And what is lost along with this literacy is something precious: a
kind of word magic, the power that certain terms possess to enchant our
relations with nature and place. As the writer Henry Porter observed,
the OUP deletions removed the “euphonious vocabulary of the natural
world—words which do not simply label an object or action but in some
mysterious and beautiful way become part of it.” Robert MacFarlane, orionmagazine.
Molto lavoro ancora da fare per i giovani studenti di filosofia.
"In his first
work, published in 1747, Immanuel Kant cites the ideas of another
philosopher: a scholar of Newton, religion, science, and mathematics.
The philosopher, whose work had been translated into several languages,
is Émilie Du Châtelet.
Yet despite her powerhouse accomplishments—and
the shout-out from no less a luminary than Kant—her work won’t be found
in the 1,000-plus pages of the new edition of The Norton Introduction to Philosophy.
In the anthology, which claims to trace 2,400 years of philosophy, the
first female philosopher doesn’t appear until the section on writing
from the mid-20th century. Or in any of the other leading anthologies used in university classrooms, scholars say.
Also absent are these 17th-century
English thinkers: Margaret Cavendish, a prolific writer and natural
philosopher; Anne Conway, who discusses the philosophy of Descartes,
Hobbes, and Spinoza in The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy
(which is influenced by the Kabbalah); and “Lady” Damaris Masham—the
daughter of a Cambridge Platonist and a close friend of John Locke who
published several works and debated ideas in letters she exchanged with
the German mathematician and philosopher G.W. Leibniz.
spread of feminism and multiculturalism, and their impact on fields from
literature to anthropology, it is possible to major in philosophy
without hearing anything about the historical contributions of women
philosophers". Susan Price, theatlantic.
The first time I read Fran Ross’s hilarious, badass novel, “Oreo,” I was
living on Fort Greene Place, in Brooklyn, in a community of people I
thought of as “the dreadlocked élite.” It was the late
nineteen-nineties, and the artisanal cheese shops and organic juice bars
had not yet fully arrived in the boroughs, though there were hints of
what was to come. Poor people and artists could still afford to live
there. We were young and black, and we’d moved to the neighborhood armed
with graduate degrees and creative ambitions. There was a quiet storm
of what the musician and writer Greg Tate described as “Black Genius”
brewing in our midst. Spike Lee had set up a production studio inside
the old firehouse on DeKalb Avenue. Around the corner, on Lafayette
Street, was Kokobar, a black-owned espresso shop decorated with
Basquiat-inspired paintings; there were whispers that Tracy Chapman and
Alice Walker were investors. Around the corner, on Elliott Street, Lisa
Price, a.k.a. Carol’s Daughter, sold organic hair oils and creams for
kinky-curly hair out of a brownstone storefront. Danzy Senna, newyorker.
Fran Ross, Oreo (Northeastern University Press), un libro che bisognerebbe tradurre!
Much of contemporary fiction has slimmed down, become more performative, single-minded, and direct. Portnoy’s Complaint,
ahead of its time, can almost be sung aloud. But Saul Bellow’s novels
are digressive, dripping with intellectual and physical life
simultaneously, what one film producer described to me as “high/low.”
When I assign Herzog to my students, I am essentially bringing a slab of foie gras to a vegan party. Dall'introduzione di Gary Shteyngart alla nuova edizione di Ravelstein di Saul Bellow da parte di Penguin Books. nybooks.
It takes a confident writer to begin a book with a long discussion of the
evolution of paper clips, push pins, and binder fasteners before even touching
on sexier subjects like glue, sticky tape, and pencil erasers.
Fortunately, James Ward, the author of the quirky history of stationery The Perfection of the Paper Clip (Touchstone), has a gift for isolating the kind of odd detail that counteracts the human eye’s tendency to glaze over. June Thomas, slate.
If we want to understand why e-mail arguments are dangerous (“The word
that is written is a thing capable of permanent life, and lives
frequently to the confusion of its parent. A man should make his
confessions always by word of mouth if it were possible”), or if we want
to understand why professional politicians hate “principled” stands
(not because they hate principles but because they believe that the cost
of the principles is already priced into the politics), or if we want
to know how scurrilous gossip can eat away at its subject without
actually damaging his reputation—for all the permanent, practical
questions of the politics of existence, Trollope remains the man. Adam Gopnik, newyorker.
The 15 undergraduate students in “Wasting Time on the Internet,”
an English course offered by the University of Pennsylvania, plus
professor Kenneth Goldsmith, plus me, are participating in an activity.
Actually, a few students opt out, but I don’t. For the exercise, which
Goldsmith calls “30 seconds of heaven,” we rotate our laptops Lazy
Susan-style around the long conference table. Everyone has 30 seconds
with each laptop, to open whatever files they choose. The
experience—surreal, funny, nerve-wracking—falls halfway between
regretting an email and seeing a therapist. When I get my computer back,
almost all of my applications are running. Katy Waldman, slate. Un'altra idea, per un racconto, forse.
"The number of those who actually do go insane is small. For Barbara
Taylor, the trouble began when she got it into her head that her
dissertation was going to be, in a literary sense, really good. Then a
doctoral candidate in history at the University of Sussex in England,
Taylor was writing about the Owenites, a minor group of
nineteenth-century English utopians. As a socialist, a feminist, and a
Canadian, she felt an affinity for these obscure and decent people.
However, she didn’t know just what to say about them, which caused her
great anxiety. This situation lasted for months, with the anxiety
getting worse. Finally, in a scene reminiscent of the Muses inspiring a
poet, her idea came to her, with dazzling suddenness; in her memoir, The Last Asylum: A Memoir of Madness in Our Times(University of Chicago, $20), Taylor dates the epiphany to a November evening in 1977, “at about eleven.” James Camp, bookforum. Potrebbe essere l'inizio di un romanzo, no?
More than 150 years later [l'articolo si riferisce a Dickens], the publishing industry is in the doldrums,
yet the novel shows few signs of digging into its past and resurrecting
the techniques that drove fans wild and juiced sales figures. The novel
is now decidedly a single object, a mass entity packaged and moved as a
whole. That’s not, of course, a bad thing, but it does create a barrier
to entry that the publishing world can’t seem to overcome. Meanwhile,
consumers gladly gobble up other media in segments — whether it’s a “Walking Dead” episode, a series of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s travelogues or a public-radio show (it’s called “Serial” for a reason, people) — so there’s reason to believe they would do the same with fiction. What the novel needs again is tension. And the best source for that tension is serialization. Hillary Kelly, washingtonpost. Si veda anche Ferrante.
are two great defining features of child-rearing today. First, children
are now praised to an unprecedented degree. ...
second defining feature is that children are honed to an unprecedented
degree. The meritocracy is more competitive than ever before. Parents
are more anxious about their kids getting into good colleges and onto
good career paths. ...
two great trends — greater praise and greater honing — combine in
intense ways. Children are bathed in love, but it is often directional
love. Parents shower their kids with affection, but it is meritocratic
affection. It is intermingled with the desire to help their children
achieve worldly success.
Very frequently it is manipulative. David Brooks, nyt.
David Kertzer, the Paul R. Dupee Jr. Professor of Social Science and
professor of anthropology and Italian studies, and a 1969 graduate of
Brown, has been awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for
biography-autobiography for his book The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe.
described Kertzer’s 2014 book as “an engrossing dual biography that
uses recently opened Vatican archives to shed light on two men who
exercised nearly absolute power over their realms.” Kertzer expressed surprise at the win. “I had no idea the Pulitizer Prizes were about to be announced nor any hint they were considering The Pope and Mussolini, so this is quite a shock. Like any author, I hope that the news leads many new readers to the book.” brown.
Reading racist literature. Old books promote old social values. But historical insults can be transformed into artistic strength... Elif Batuman su come leggere i commenti razzisti dei classici. newyorker.
In occasione dell'uscita di una raccolta di saggi di Renata Adler, After the Tall Timber (New York Review Books), Catherine Lacey intervista la scrittrice. Yes, but it happens faster and you can get lost. There's always
something and we can forget who we were supposed to hate last year.
Exactly. What used to be, for me and I think still is, the test of the
critic is whether he quotes from the source or not. That's what's fair. I
once got a review that said, "She writes so badly that it sets my teeth
on edge." And then she quoted stuff. And I thought,
Wait a minute. That's the best I can do. If she thinks that's bad, OK. [Laughs] And that's fair. vice.
Un articolo molto interessante sul lento declino delle università, asservite ai bisogni della società e non più liberi centri di pensiero e sperimentazione. "Universities, which in Britain have an 800-year history, have
traditionally been derided as ivory towers, and there was always some
truth in the accusation. Yet the distance they established between
themselves and society at large could prove enabling as well as
disabling, allowing them to reflect on the values, goals, and interests
of a social order too frenetically bound up in its own short-term
practical pursuits to be capable of much self-criticism. Across the
globe, that critical distance is now being diminished almost to nothing,
as the institutions that produced Erasmus and John Milton, Einstein and
Monty Python, capitulate to the hard-faced priorities of global
capitalism". Terry Eagleton, chronicle.
Andrew Scull, Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine (Thames & Hudson).
'Civilization', the other noun in Scull's title, also invites of the
reader a healthy dose of doubt. The title is perhaps intended as a
reference to the history of debate on whether or not insanity increased
or decreased over the centuries, rather than to display the writer's own
assumption (in the manner of, say, Kenneth Clark in his celebrated
television series and book Civilisation) that certain societies
definitely deserve our approbation. Given the desperate history of
abuses that this book explores, the title might rather evoke a remark,
attributed to Gandhi, after an inquiry into his opinion of 'Western
civilisation': 'I think it would be a good idea.' Daniel Pick, literaryreview.
Un'altra, interessante e fondamentalmente positiva, critica al metodo di analisi letteraria di Moretti. Difficile selezionare una frase significativa dall'articolo. Vado con questa, anche se piuttosto banale, "We need to embrace the new technologies Moretti and the Stanford
Literary Lab are exploring because they do offer incredibly powerful
tools for understanding the phenomenon of literature, and will clearly
enable us to say certain things about it which are just at the dawning
of being explorable. Who knows what Moretti will come up with next?" Jonathan Freedman, thenewrambler.
According to website Know Your Meme,
which documents viral Internet phenomena, a meme is “a piece of content
or an idea that’s passed from person to person, changing and evolving
along the way.” ... But trawling the Internet, I found a strange paradox: While memes were
everywhere, serious meme theory was almost nowhere. Richard Dawkins, the
famous evolutionary biologist who coined the word “meme” in his classic
1976 book, The Selfish Gene, seemed bent on disowning the Internet variety, calling it a “hijacking” of the original term. Abby Rabinowitz, nautilus.
One of the compensations of being an insomniac in a snowbound house full
of books is that I can always find something to read and distract
myself from whatever mood I’m in. When it gets real bad, I roam the dark
house with a flashlight like Hamlet’s father’s ghost, pull books off
the shelves, open them at random or thumb the pages until I find
something of interest, and after reading it, either go back to bed happy
or grope for another book... Charles Simic, nybooks.
Il nuovo libro di James Wood - The Nearest Thing to Life(Jonathan Cape) - è quasi un'autobiografia: "Wood’s new book is as much autobiographical as critical: why should
there be a difference, because the books whose vital “lifeness” he
extols saved his own life when he was growing up as a minister’s son in
Durham? The atmosphere at home was strict, high-minded, earnestly
evangelical. “I was escaping from things,” Wood said, “hiding from
things, but also discovering things that might be prohibited. Though my
parents didn’t run a despotic regime, novels gave me a freedom to think
and to be that was not found within the gospels.” Peter Conrad, guardian.
Dangerous Allure of the Unseen (Chicago), by the British science writer
Philip Ball. A former editor of Nature and the author of
nineteen previous books (he should write about that superpower), Ball
leads us on a very fun, largely chronological journey through
invisibility, beginning with myth and early magicians, ending with
quantum physics, and stopping along the way at Newton, Leibniz,
microscopy, photography, spiritualism, B movies, and science fiction. He
is lucid and interesting on every topic he touches, from the ghost in
“Hamlet” to those unseen extra dimensions posited by string theory. But
he is more a tour guide than a theorist, and he never entirely succeeds
at pulling the category together, or illuminating our own ambivalent
relationship to the prospect of becoming invisible. Kathryn Schulz, newyorker.
Will Self on the meaning of skyscraper. "When it comes to skyscrapers I am, in the proper sense of the word, ambivalent: I hate them for all the obvious reasons ... Yet I also love them – truly, I do. I love their Promethean swagger; I
love their ability to transform our perception of the city by proposing a
new parallax around which we instantly reorient as we tunnel along at
ground level. And I love the way that they are seemingly purpose-built
to accompany what Marshall McLuhan described as the “instantaneous
medium” of electricity". theguardian.
"Education provides us with a protected space within which to think
against the grain of received opinion: a space to question and
challenge, to imagine the world from different standpoints and
perspectives, to reflect upon ourselves in relation to others and, in so
doing, to understand what it means to “assume responsibility”. She had
observed at first hand how such opinion can solidify into ideology. For
her, thinking was diametrically opposed to ideology: ideology demands
assent, is founded on certainty, and determines our behaviours within
fixed horizons of expectation; thinking, on the other hand, requires
dissent, dwells in uncertainty and expands our horizons by acknowledging
our agency. It is the task of education – and therefore of the
university – to ensure that a space for such thinking remains open and
accessible. But the university can fulfil that task only if the
space it provides remains uncluttered by what Arendt saw as barriers to
thought". Da un bell'articolo su Hannah Arendt di Jon Nixon, timeshighereducation.
This spring, on the centennial of his birth and the tenth anniversary
of his death, Bellow will burst from posthumous detention. ... But the
main event will be Zachary Leader’s biography The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune[Knopf], coming
out in May, which portrays Bellow up to 1964. Orchestrated by Bellow’s
literary executor, literary superagent Andrew Wylie (who replaced
Wasserman), this massive life by Leader, also Wylie’s client, is
transparently meant as a corrective to the authorized biography
published by Atlas in 2000, which presented Bellow as a racist and a
woman-hater, among other things, and accelerated Bellow’s fall from
literary grace. Lee Siegel, volture.
The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf) The Sellout, Paul Beatty (FSG) A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara (Doubleday) Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, Erik Larson (Crown) Crow Fair, by Thomas McGuane (Knopf) Hausfrau, Jill Alexander Essbaum (Random House) So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson (Riverhead) Ordinary Light, Tracy K. Smith (Knopf)