Saturday, September 18, 2021

ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas


Literature Is A Technology, And It Should Be Taught Like One

Neuroscientist-turned-English-professor Angus Fletcher: "It's a machine designed to work in concert with another machine, our brain. The purpose of the two machines is to accelerate each other. … We've been taught in school to interpret literature, to say what it means, to identify its themes and arguments. But when you do that, you're working against literature. I'm saying we need to find these technologies, these inventions, and connect them to your head, see what they can do for your brain." - Nautilus

Stage Actors In Paris Offer ‘Poetic Consultations’ By Phone

"'I am calling you for a poetic consultation,' said a warm voice on the telephone. 'It all starts with a very simple question: How are you?' Since March, almost 15,000 people around the world have received a call like this. These conversations with actors, who offer a one-on-one chat before reading a poem selected for the recipient, started as a lockdown initiative by a prominent Paris playhouse, the Théâtre de la Ville, in order to keep its artists working while stages remained dark." - The New York Times

The Nobel Winner Who’s Not All That Crazy About Writing

Kazuo Ishiguro: "In some ways, I suppose, I'm just not that dedicated to my vocation. I expect it's because writing wasn’t my first choice of profession. It’s almost something I fell back on because I couldn't make it as a singer-songwriter. It's not something I've wanted to do every minute of my life. It's what I was permitted to do. So, you know, I do it when I really want to do it, but otherwise I don't." - The New York Times Magazine

Whatever The Pandemic May Have Thrown At You, There’s A German Word For It

"Over the past year, German has coined some 1,000-plus new terms endemic to the Now Times. … And that's thanks to the language's rules of compound noun formation, which dictate that you can make a new, longer legitimate word out of almost any existing ones." Germanist and recovering academic Rebecca Schuman is our guide. - Slate

When The Masses First Started To Read Widely…

"It has recently been argued that reading novels, especially epistolary novels, helped people in the 18th century to put themselves in other people’s shoes, and sensitized them to cruelty in everyday life, savage punishments and abuses of human rights: In reading, they empathized across traditional social boundaries between nobles and commoners, masters and servants, men and women, perhaps even adults and children. As a consequence, they came to see others—people they did not know personally—as like them, as having the same kind of inner emotions." - LitHub

Big Publishing’s New Editors

"By the time that America’s reckoning on race reached a fever pitch last year, publishing was months into a messy upheaval of its own. On Twitter, publishing insiders railed against the blinding whiteness of the industry, while writers of color used #PublishingPaidMe to show that they often received far less money than their white peers. The resulting move by the big-five publishers to hire executives and editors of color has been viewed by some as a sea change for the industry." - New York Magazine

Why Literary Canons Are Important

"For those who view the very notion of the canon as inherently elitist, it’s worth noting that the phenomena mostly clearly implicated in its formation were the democratizing processes of the late 19th and early 20th century: the massive extension of free education—not just to little white proto-patriarchs, but to girls, and children from diverse communities as well—together with the technological improvements in the replication and dissemination of literary texts." - LitHub

After Six Years, Google News May Be Returning To Spain

"Google is negotiating individual licensing deals with a divided Spanish news industry that could allow the U.S. tech giant's news service to resume in the country. … Google News, which links to third party content, closed in Spain in late 2014 in response to legislation which meant it had to pay a mandatory collective licensing fee to re-publish headlines or snippets of news." - Reuters

Using Social Media To Preserve The Uyghur Language — And Keep It Up To Date

Uyghur, a Turkic language that uses the Arabic alphabet, has about 10 million native speakers, most of them in the Xinjiang province of northwestern China. With the Chinese Communist Party engaged in a campaign to suppress the Uyghur minority and their language (including scrubbing Uyghur websites based in China from the Web), a WeChat group of academics, translators, and other professionals called "Tilchilar" (Uyghur for "linguists") is doing crucial work to document the language and make sure its vocabulary covers contemporary life without too many loan words from Mandarin. - Global Voices

France Is Trying To Raise Millions To Buy De Sade’s Filthiest Manuscript

"The French government is appealing for corporate help to acquire the manuscript of the Marquis de Sade's notorious The 120 Days of Sodom, valued at €4.5m (£3.9m), for the National Library of France." - The Guardian

Longing For The Challenges Of The American Booksellers Association

Sometimes, virtual isn't going to cut it - and certainly won't replace "the interstitial socializing, the sidewalk conversations on the way to the next bar, the hungover confessionals of the diner booth, the 4 am rants about art and life and the absurdities of corporate publishing. … Finding their way through it all, giving it purpose and passion, are the booksellers, the newbies and the veterans alike who invariably leave me with a deeply renewed faith in the importance of books in our lives." - LitHub

Getting In The Archive Sub-Basements To Discover How Librarians In Paris Resisted The Nazis

A researcher comes up against French bureaucracy: "To learn more about the day-to-day life of Parisians during the war, I turned to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF). This modern library is made up of four buildings in a configuration that resembles four open books; however, the public resources are less accessible than this design would suggest, with the tomes for the general public on the basement level and the research library in the sub-basement." - LitHub

Why Are So Many Writers Having Difficulty Writing During COVID?

“The problem with writing is it’s just another screen, and that’s all there is … I can’t connect with my imagination. I can’t connect with any creativity. My whole brain is tied up with processing, processing, processing what’s going on in the world.” - The Guardian

How To Spot A Forged Dead Sea Scroll Fragment

"In 2009, the Green family, owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of arts-and- crafts stores, began acquiring a series of weathered fragments advertised as Dead Sea Scrolls, including this one, … were displayed at the Museum of the Bible. … Last spring, however, scientific analysis proved what a number of biblical scholars had begun to suspect: the sixteen fragments the Greens purchased were forgeries." Here, in one of Harper's trademark Annotations, Madeleine Schwartz explains how researchers could tell the pieces were fake. - Harper's

Book Sales Are Up 20 Percent In Australia. And Book Subscriptions Are Booming

Among the winners of this literary resurgence is a micro-industry: book subscription services, which curate a selection for you and deliver them to your home. In an era of information overload and a crowded literary market with an often debilitating degree of choice, it isn’t hard to see the attraction of professionals highly attuned to the market – or algorithms catered to your tastes – making the decisions for you. - The Guardian

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