Why the Unplugging Movement Doesn’t Really Make Sense


“But how quickly the digital age turned into the age of technological anxiety, with our beloved devices becoming something to fear, not enjoy. What sex was for the Puritans, technology has become for us. We’ve focussed our collective anxiety on digital excess, and reconnecting with the ‘real’ world around us represents one effort to control it. … [Yet] is it any less real when we fall in love and break up over Gchat than when we get fired over e-mail and then find a new job on LinkedIn?”

Cinema Needs Short Films – And We Need More Places to See Them

Cinema Needs More Short Films

Richard Brody: “The classic device for releasing short films – the compilation film, for which filmmakers are brought together to make new work on a unifying theme – is, despite its noble pedigree, almost dead. … Good short films don’t get the attention that they deserve, which is all the more grievous as there are some terrific short films being made.”

Sundance Institute Branches Into TV

Sundance logo

“The nonprofit Sundance Institute on Wednesday said it would begin an episodic storytelling workshop (or ‘lab’ in Sundance parlance) for writers and creators of programs for television and online platforms.”

J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Beowulf’ Translation Will Finally See Print

JRR Tolkien 1955

“Although the author completed his own translation in 1926, he ‘seems never to have considered its publication’, said Christopher Tolkien … The book, edited by Christopher Tolkien, will also include the series of lectures Tolkien gave at Oxford about the poem in the 1930s, as well as the author’s ‘marvellous tale’, Sellic Spell.”

How Theatre Can Help Science (And Vice Versa)

How Theatre Can Help Science (And Vice Versa)

“With this requirement [for scientists] to perform (student assessment of lecturers’ abilities is now standard), comes an increasing readiness to engage with audiences who might have little understanding of the process of science, but a lot of interest in the message of science. But theatre can engage with science in more ways than simply the technical. The key thing here is that they share a common term and a common tool – that of ‘interpretation’.”

Joseph Kerman, Musicologist and Critic, Dead at 89

Joseph Kerman

Best known for his dismissal of Tosca as a “shabby little shocker” in his 1956 book Opera as Drama, Kerman “was a man of many parts: a scholar whose work on such topics as Beethoven and the Renaissance madrigal reflected deep research and study; a disciplinary gadfly who almost single-handedly changed the direction of academic musicology; a powerful and influential teacher; and a prolific public intellectual.”

The Next Big Thing in Crime Fiction? Poland

Polish crime fiction

“And in a field that has been dominated by British, American and, most recently, Scandinavian writers, [Poland] seems poised to grab the attention of crime fiction fans around the world.” The secret ingredient? Poland’s tangled 20th-century history.

Need Orchestral Backup? There’s An App For That!


“A number of apps provide musical backup, but Cadenza out of Harvard goes a step further, automatically synching a recording of a full live orchestra to your style and tempo in real time. As you begin playing your instrument, the app listens to each note you play and the rhythm and speed in which you play them, calculating and recalibrating a prediction model for when you will play the next note.”

How Did The Language Police Take Over?


“We grammarians who study the English language are not all bow-tie-wearing martinets, but we’re also not flaming liberals who think everything should be allowed. There’s a sensible middle ground where you decide what the rules of Standard English are, on the basis of close study of the way that native speakers use the language.”

The Rise Of Walter Benjamin


“Following his suicide in 1940 at age 48, in Portbou, Spain, his name had been kept alive by a small number of friends and colleagues, the kind of trickle of a readership that hardly suggested he would one day be counted among the most significant and far-ranging critics, essayists, and thinkers of the past 100 years—and one whose reach may still not be completely fathomed.”

How Science Fills Its Gaps With Old Stories


“Before science had the means to explore that realm, we had to make do with stories that became enshrined in myth and folklore. Those stories aren’t banished as science advances; they are simply reinvented.”

How Much Are We Willing To Pay For Music? (Here Are The Data)


“So, the data tells us that consumers are willing to spend somewhere around $45–$65 per year on music, and that the larger a service gets, the lower in that range the number becomes. And these numbers have remained consistent regardless of music format, from CD to download.”

Syria Accuses Turkey of Letting Looters Get Away With Loot

Syrian loot

The Assad government’s culture ministry says that its neighbor is “turning a blind eye to the systematic looting of the country’s cultural heritage. Illicit digging at archaeological sites is ‘fierce’, antiquities stores have been raided by armed gangs, and foreigners, from Turkey in particular, are smuggling hundreds of objects across its borders, Syria claims.”

China Decentralizes Film Censorship

China film censorship

“Domestic films soon will be censored by regulators in the province where film production companies are based, rather than by a national one … Although the move loosens the central grip on censorship, insiders are skeptical it will do much to open up the industry.”

The Mo Yan Effect on China’s Literary Scene

Mo Yan

“There’s a disease of the ‘great China novel’ that’s attacking Chinese writers. They feel they have to produce these enormous things that explain all of Chinese society and are filled with philosophy and ideas and thoughts. And they tend to believe that’s more important than story or character.”