Given Amtrack’s new plan to host writers on its train, I’m feeling a little prophetic. As I say here, I’ve long known the value of trains to the creative process:
How fitting that Heidegger links this moment to boredom: it is precisely in those unconstructed white expanses that our thoughts are freed from the channels that normally guide them through a day. In this sense reading may be thought of as a variety of boredom. On many days I reach this quasi-bored state after having taken the morning train into the city where I work. I wedge . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Very clever. But is there any way to empirically test this hypothesis?
Indeed, there may be. In a recent paper, “Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation,” the physicists Silas R. Beane, Zohreh Davoudi and Martin J. Savage outline a possible method for detecting that our world is actually a computer simulation. Physicists have been creating their own computer simulations of the forces of nature for years — on a tiny scale, the size of an atomic nucleus. They use a three-dimensional grid to model a little chunk of the universe; then they run the . . . continue reading, and add your comments
One thing that I don’t recall hearing in the whole dust-up around Kristof’s column is that most academics doing things in the public sphere are doing it on their own inclination, and generally against their own self-interest as academics. True, attitudes have become more enlightened in recent years as the Internet has become more of a mainstream thing, but you’re still going to be doing this stuff basically as an unpaid gig on your free time. And unless you can swing it and make it work for you, you’re probably better off not in academia, unless it’s academics you . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Guy Davenport on Kafka. And also.
He says that he is a hunter turned into a butterfly. There is a gate (presumably heaven) toward which he flutters, but when he gets near he wakes to find himself back on his bier in the cabin of his ship… The butterfly is one of the most dramatic of metamorphic creatures, its transformations seemingly more divergent than any other. A caterpillar does not die; it becomes a wholly different being.
Probably true that books that divide the judges tend not to win prizes (which is why most prizes tend toward compromise and only occasionally award strangeness and brilliance), but Amis’s definition of “serious stuff” is pretty far off, in my opinion.
Laughter comes easily to Amis, and he’s a passionate envoy for the comic novel. Yet he believes his books never win prizes such as the Booker because they divide judges; ”They tend to feel more relaxed with earnest stuff.”
However, he insists, ”the history of the novel is all comic … Nabokov said no one who isn’t . . . continue reading, and add your comments
The novel was terrible, which means the movie will be great.
Berlin — Mike Tyson is in talks to star as the ax murderer in Werner Herzog’s adaptation of DBC Pierre’s Booker prize-winning coming-of-age novel Vernon God Little.
Hyperobjects by Timothy Morton sounds fascinating, insofar as I think I understand Stephen Muecke’s review of it.
The pressing reality of hyperobjects now has the effect of destroying this critical distance, of making it impossible to separate causality from art (as if art were mere decoration on top of the “real workings”), and of forcing us to abandon the modern habit of redemptively imaging a better future, for now we have to hesitate in front of what hyperobjects are placing right in front of us: that we are not in charge of the future anymore, because it . . . continue reading, and add your comments
I’m a pretty skeptical dude, but seems like this has the potential to actually make a big difference. And you really have to hand it to Patterson for putting his money where his mouth is. Good for him.
The best-selling author James Patterson has started a program to give away $1 million of his personal fortune to dozens of bookstores, allowing them to invest in improvements, dole out bonuses to employees and expand literacy outreach programs.
More than 50 stores across the country will begin receiving cash grants this week, from Percy’s Burrow in Topsham, Me., to Page . . . continue reading, and add your comments
The whole thing is now online. I get what Dyer is saying here, but I don’t quite agree. As someone who’s read his fiction and his nonfiction, I feel like there’s a pretty clear difference between the two, and I like the latter much more than the former.
On what grounds?
It’s titled “The Art of Nonfiction.” Now I could whine, “What about the fiction?” but that would be to accept a distinction that’s not sustainable. Fiction, nonfiction—the two are bleeding into each other all the time.
You don’t distinguish between them at all?
I . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Write-up in The Guardian, full thing hitting the Web soon.
As it was the WG Sebald lecture, Margaret Atwood told her audience at the British Library, she was entitled to make it as freeform as Sebald’s writing, full of “peripatetic” wanderings, mixing up memoir with other genres, and just plain “odd”.
Though this was a warning not to expect a linear argument, let alone a theory of translation, her beguiling autobiographical digressions in Atwood in Translationland were not there just for fun. They illustrated that “we spend much of our childhood translating”; that it’s a universal activity, not . . . continue reading, and add your comments