Monday, December 30, 2002

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being, and who is willing to destroy his own heart?
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Internet Expressing the Real Heart

Adina Levin points to her father's Holocaust experience as one of the reasons she blogs: One of the questions that I had about approaching adulthood was, if the place that I lived started sliding toward totalitarianism, would I be one of the people who spoke up... this is one small thing that I can do to help make people aware.
· Speaking Out [Levin]

Arts What is the relationship between art and society?

Can literature change the world? Or should it be above the concerns of society? Philip Pullman argues that while writers have wider duties, they must be faithful servants of their stories.
· Before a writer’s duty to audience [Guardian UK]

Literature The great novelists not fit for duty in this war of words

War is Heller. It is also Tolstoy, Owen, Vonnegut and Hemingway, among many others.
But according to the Pentagon, war — at least the impending war in Iraq — is Shakespeare, the 5th-century BC Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu and two modern bestsellers about heroism and wartime correspondence. Before Christmas the US Defence Department began distributing free, pocket-sized copies of these books to its troops, to ensure that soldiers are improving their minds while removing Saddam. More than 100,000 copies have been given away so far.
· Sun & Moon [Times UK]


There are people who read all the time, who have read everything, and who remember all that they have read. They can effortlessly quote Mr. Micawber at appropriate moments; they make a point of returning to Madame Bovary once a decade; if approached by some magazine for one of those what's-on-your-bedside-table? items, Thucydides and Don Quixote trip from their lips as easily as Dristan might drip from lesser mortals; despite their enthusiasm for the classics, they have already read Austin Clarke's The Polished Hoe, Rohinton Mistry's Family Matters and Annie Proulx's new novel.
But this is child's play to them. They are not fooled by puerile emotion. They are not tricked by simple fondness. They are not duped by mere sincerity. The people who have read everything know that whatever we may say about loving books, we have holes in our literary knowledge that they can drive trucks through. Trucks called Dr. Faustus. Or Mikhail Bulgakov. Or The Man Without Qualities. The people who have read everything, sense literary vulnerability the way a leopard senses which grazing antelope has the bad leg. And then they pounce.
· Child’s Play [Globe Books]

Silence of the Artist

Max Beckmann’s idea of a fine night out was to sit alone in black tie, sipping champagne at the bar of an expensive hotel, silently observing.
· Observer [NY Times]

My Kafka and His Amerika

Kafka's unfinished, posthumous novel Amerika had been edited by his friend Max Brod before its release. Now an unedited version under the title The Man Who Disappeared is being released by New Directions. The editing done by Brod, however, was the removal of factual inaccuracies, misspellings, things of that nature. For example, San Francisco was on the East coast, according to Kafka. New Directions argues that Amerika was like a dream and therefore such errors should remain.
· Dreams [Boston]

Lit Lerher

Reading about the Australian elites put me in mind of Tom Lerher's quip about the ‘people who make you realize how little you've accomplished.’ Lerher said it was sobering to contemplate that ‘when Mozart was my age... he had been dead for two years.’
In their Christmas stockings the elites found a copy of Keith Windschuttle's Fabrication of Aboriginal History, with solid endorsement from the new editorial team at The Australian newspaper. This is the most reactionary book to be taken seriously in this country for many years. I suppose all one can console oneself with is the thought that every era produces the book it deserves. Happy new year.
· Elites [SMH]

Double Joy

Congratulation to a double-dragon-partner-in-crime, Marilynn Byerly who wrote (yesterday):
Oooooh, ooooh! My THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN is right above Michael Crichton's current NY Times bestseller, PREY, on the SF bestseller list atfictionwise. I'm definitely taking a screenshot of that!

· Double Dragon [Wise]

Internet From Andy’s 15 Minutes of Fame to 15 Wise People

On the internet, everyone is famous to 15 people. A comparison between urban design and blogging: The blogosphere is the closest thing going to the short blocks neighborhood. Which is a very human scale... it opens you up to new perspectives, but doesn't overwhelm you at the same time.
· 15 [SteveBerlin]

Power Corrupts; Marginal Blog Power Corrupts Marginally

The way daily journalism works, a story has a 24-hour audition to see if it has legs, and if it doesn't get picked up, that's it. In a case of Lott, the guy's majority leader. Reporters, as opposed to bloggers, depend on him for access. Without samizdat magazines under communism and without stories on the Internet in today's political climate, many really important stories would not be given oxygen and most scandals would end up underreported. The hinterlands are full of bloggers who don't care whether Trent Lotts of this world are nice to them or not. That makes them different from the Washington, Prague & Canberra press galleries. One of the greatest things about blogs is that they are not being developed by huge evil spinning companies, but by individuals who are members of a community. Pundits now recognize that blogs as useful tools for everything from venting about politics to raving about deaths and taxes.
· Lott [Guardian UK]

Games Making Moves: Erotic Czech Mates

The language of chess is very sexual. I mean, what are you supposed to think when somebody declares that they're going to mate you in five moves so you might as well surrender now? Things get taken in chess. They can also be pinned and skewered. If you're going to nab the queen, you have to move in carefully, obliquely, much like a tricky seduction. It's a traditionally masculine game but in spite of that, or perhaps because of it, she is the most powerful piece on the boards and calls many of the shots. A knight, if he's careful, can take her without putting himself in harm's way. He just has to make the right moves.
· Chess [CleenSheets]

X-es They're all at it, in this sex quiz of the year.

It's been a busy 12 months for sexual intrigue. But just how good is your XXX-rated memory? Which distinguished ex-MP confessed to prowling around Clapham Common furtively seeking anonymous gay sexual encounters?

a Jeffrey Archer

b Matthew Parris

c Harvey Procter
· Encounters [The Independent UK]

Rubbish The privacy of your trash.

Police everywhere are in a habit of raiding the curbside garbage bins. Not so long ago bins of Gina Hoesly experienced such invasion. The consensus, as far as the police were concerned, was that garbage was public, not protected by the Fourth Amendment, and its search and seizure were not illegal. Well, welcome the Fourth Estate. Reporters decided to raid the curbside garbage of three righteous public officials (Police Chief, Mayor, District Attorney) who supported the police garbage-sifting assault. The results are disturbing and hilarious:
Invasion of privacy? This is a frontal assault, a D-Day, a Norman Conquest of privacy. We know the chief's credit-card number; we know where he buys his groceries; we know how much toilet tissue he goes through. We know whose Christmas cards he has pitched, whose wedding he skipped, whose photo he threw away. We know what newsletters he gets and how much he's socked away in the stock market. We even know he's thinking about a new car--and which models he's considering.
· D-Day [Willamette Week]