Some would call it visibility. If you’re talking books, how about millions upon millions of Youtube views for a reading from Supervert’s ‘Necrophilia Variations.’ A dozen years ago when that video had two million views, I called it “viral reading.” Three years later, on Dec. 30, 2015, the video had 18.6 million views. Today it has some 28 million views. So what has this meant for selling the book?
“For a quarter-century, from the end of Watergate to the aftermath of the Cold War, no Republican won the presidency without the help of James A. Baker III or ran the White House without his advice. Now two major political journalists, Peter Baker (of The New York Times) and Susan Glasser (of The New Yorker) have written ‘The Man Who Ran Washington,’ a definitive, page-turning biography of the power broker whose impact was unmatched when Washington ran the world and who influenced America’s destiny for generations. The authors join in a discussion with Kai Bird, executive director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography.”
William S. Burroughs was not a Buddhist: he never sought or found a “Teacher,” he never took Refuge, and he never undertook any Bodhisattva vows nor—for that matter—did he ever declare himself a follower of any one faith or practice.. He did not consider himself a Buddhist. But he did have an awareness of the essentials of Buddhism, and in his own way, he was affected by bodhidharma.
Sometimes my tireless staff of thousands looks back and sees a blogpost that demands to be reposted. This one from Dec. 17, 2004 — 18 years ago next week, imagine that: “When 1984 came around smack in the middle of the rose-tinted Reagan era, many in the commentariat had a field day noting that George Orwell, for all his genius, had overstated his case. The future he’d warned of in ‘1984’ simply hadn’t come to pass.”
In his new book, “Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now,” Evan Osnos draws on nearly a decade of reporting for The New Yorker. His portrait of Biden and what his election means for the nation. is based on lengthy interviews with Biden, as well as conversations with President Barack Obama, the Biden family, his advisers, rivals, and opponents.
When Jack Kerouac read Neal Cassady’s spontaneous rush of words, he claimed it was more alive than any piece of writing he had ever seen. In its effusive style, its freewheeling candor, its Proustian (yes, Proustian!) introspection, the letter touched off a response in Kerouac that reshaped entirely his own approach to writing. The result was an explosion of “road” novels, beginning with “On the Road,” in which Cassady is renamed Dean Moriarity and seen as nothing less than “the root, the soul” of Beat legend.
Heathcote Williams was an unstoppable force. Even in death he is unstoppable. His writings, his activism, and his personal example continue to inspire others. At heart, Williams was a revolutionary. The historian Peter Whitfield placed his work in a “great tradition of visionary dissent” stretching from William Blake and John Ruskin to DH Lawrence and David Jones. I had the privilege of recording Williams’s final vinyl LP-cum-CD, “American Porn,” at his home in Oxford several years before he died. The poems he read — “Mr. President,” “The United States of Porn,” “Forbidden Fruit, or The Cybernetic Apple Core,” and “Snuff Films at the White House” — were in their uncompromising nakedness CT scans of history.
“To most Americans, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. represent contrasting ideals: self-defense vs. nonviolence, black power vs. civil rights, the sword vs. the shield. Peniel E. Joseph’s dual biography of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, ‘The Sword and the Shield,’ upends longstanding preconceptions to transform the understanding of the twentieth century’s most iconic African American leaders.” — GC Presents / The Center for Humanities
FREE ONLINE EVENT: “The pop-culture universe of superheroes is filled with extraordinary humans and abilities. Captain America, the Hulk, and Black Panther seem to lie firmly in the realm of fantasy, but the technology behind them might not be as farfetched as we think. In his book ‘The Science of Marvel,’ Sebastian Alvarado shows that, using quantum physics, evolutionary biology, and mechanical engineering, we can find real-world parallels to superpowers such as ‘spidey sense’ and Thor’s lightning. He speaks with Shane Campbell-Staton, host of the podcast ‘The Biology of Superheroes,’ about where the science meets the fiction.” — GC Presents
“It’s wasted breath to tell a scumbag: ‘It’s not nice to be such a swine. Why don’t you smarten up, get your act together?’ We fail to comprehend that the majority of scumbags are consciously scummy—they are aware of it and would not wish to be any different, as long as they’re able to conceal their scumminess.”
— NARCOTICS by Stanisław I. Witkiewicz
Diane di Prima died several days ago in San Francisco at age 86. The obituaries have poured in, paying tribute to a life devoted to writing—her own and others’. She was a poet, editor, publisher, memoirist, novelist and, not least, a social activist. I believe she will be remembered most for her poetry. What I like is its simplicity. I understand it. I like its rich feeling, which is straightforward and strong and not at all sentimental. Her poems age well. I’d be surprised if her poetry didn’t last longer than the poetry of many of the Beats.
Shakespeare’s writing—all of it, poetry and plays—was repulsive to Tolstoy, who claimed that whenever he read Shakespeare he was overcome by “repulsion, weariness, and bewilderment.” As for “King Lear,” ranked among Shakespeare’s four greatest tragedies, he found it “at every step,” according to George Orwell, “stupid, verbose, unnatural, unintelligible, bombastic, vulgar, tedious and full of incredible events, ‘wild ravings,’ ‘mirthless jokes,’ anachronisms, irrelevancies, obscenities, worn-out stage conventions and other faults both moral and aesthetic.”
“No one has ever written a song about Coronary Thrombosis, / Even though its blessings have been widely recognized . . . / Even though it has saved many people from a lifetime of sorrow . . . / Even though it has rescued many people from bottomless pits of Death . . . / Even though it has provided a good life for millions of doctors, nurses, / Ambulance drivers, morticians, stonecutters and countless others. / Yet, on ungrateful Tin Pan Alley / No one has ever written a song about Coronary Thrombosis.”