Thursday, October 27, 2016

Long History of Books: Pretending to Grownup

“People lose their health to make money, then lose their money to restore their health.” 
~ Ajay Anand 

“It is astonishing how much worse one mosquito can be than a swarm. A swarm can be prepared against, but one mosquito takes on a personality—a hatefulness, a sinister quality of the struggle to the death.” 
F. Scott Fitzgerald 

Poet Lucia Perillo Dead At 58

“Known for her sense of humor and her writing about living with multiple sclerosis, … she received a MacArthur ‘Genius’ fellowship [in 2000] … {and] was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her collection Inseminating the Elephant.”

The piece she chose to perform, titled Rhythm 10, was a play on a drinking game popular among Russian and Yugoslav peasants: The player spreads their fingers onto a wooden surface and, using a sharp knife, begins rapidly stabbing the wood in the gap between the fingers. Whenever they miss and knick or stab themselves, they take a shot; the more shots they take, the more they lose control and cut themselves — an exponentially accelerating machine for self-inflicted pain. Abramović’s piece subverted this mechanism by placing the artist at the locus of control — she would go through the rapid motions deliberately, using ten different knives in succession, so that whenever she stabbed herself, the pain would be a testament to absolute presence. 
In a sentiment that calls to mind Amanda Palmer’s assertion that “wherever you don’t want to go, whatever that risk is, wherever the unsafe place is — that really is the gift that you have to give,”Abramović reflects on her initiation into her own self as an artist:

Some big part of me is thrilled by the unknown, by the idea of taking risks. When it comes to doing risky things, I don’t care. I just go for it. 
That doesn’t mean I’m fearless. Quite the opposite. The idea of death terrifies me. When there is turbulence on an airplane, I shake with fear. I start composing my last will and testament. But when it comes to my work, I cast caution to the winds.
I could hardly breathe from the idea that I was going to do this. But I was also serious about what I was about to do, 100 percent committed. I was so serious about everything then! Yet I think I needed this gravity. Much later on, I read a statement of Bruce Nauman’s: “Art is a matter of life and death.” It sounds melodramatic, but it’s so true. This was exactly how it was for me, even at the beginning. Art was life and death. There was nothing else. It was so serious, and so necessary.
In many ways, performance artist Marina Abramović (b. November 30, 1946) has plotted her trailblazing creative trajectory along the same vector of conviction, using pain — both externally inflicted and self-elected — as a creative medium, but using discipline as the mechanism of subversion. As she approaches her seventieth year, Abramović looks back on her unusual life in her magnificent memoir Walk Through Walls 

A Time-Lapse Video That’s Worth Every One Of The 52,000 Books Involved The New York Public Library Gets Its Books Back

Oxford University Press Blog: What do librarians like to read? – “Of a grand total of ninety entries, seven titles appeared twice in our perfect library, including The Master and Margarita, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and the Norwegian classic Hunger (Sult)

20 Reasons Why You Should Read Literary Magazines

Books by two journalists, one a Pulitzer prizewinner, the other a Nobel laureate, have made it to the shortlist announced on Monday for the £30,000 Baillie Gifford prize for non-fictionOne is a study of life in the Soviet Union just before the system collapsed, by the Belarusian campaigning journalist Svetlana Alexievich, which won her last year’s Nobel prize for literature. The other is a memoir of life growing up in a privileged black district of Chicago by the Pulitzer prizewinning critic Margo JeffersonAlexievich’s hugely admired Second-Hand Time, translated by Bela Shayevich, won her the Nobel for what the judges described as “her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time” First-hand reporting dominates Baillie Gifford shortlist

Apocalyptic Earthquakes hit central  Italy

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-2-05-35-pmA new graphic novel trilogy has as its inspiration a most unusual source: The Bible. From The Guardian:

There may be demons, plagues and the all horrors of the apocalypse, but there’s no room for any spandex superheroes in a graphic novel that its publishers are claiming is the longest ever produced. The only superpowers that feature in the 10,000 panels of the Kingstone Bible are wielded in the good fight, as the greatest story ever told gets a 12-volume comic-book adaptation.
Christian publisher Kingstone has been working on the project for seven years, using more than 45 illustrators to pull together what it is calling “the most complete graphic-novel adaptation of the Bible ever published”, at over 2,000 pages, in either 12 paperback volumes or three larger hardcover volumes.

 The beauty routine of a Victorian woman was anything but glamorous

Are you using a cell phone for s-l-o-w reading? And how about other reading?  – David Rothman addresses an often overlook paradigm shift – using a smartphone for slow reading. You almost always have your smartphone with you. And with an estimated 190 million smartphone users in the US, Rothman posits that the discipline of reading on a small screen device can be learned, absent distractions (such as email and social media intrusions). Reading is fundamental (RIF), but the way we read has fundamentally shifted. Read on!

How science fiction got the future wrong. Great-power rivalry, demographic collapse, mass migration have been absent from futurist  literature 

Ancient Rome was gripped by a mania for public displays of reading. Wealthy Romans felt the need to boast of their intellect to the world. Some things never change

Bookshops are standing the test of digital times
"We read," wrote C.S. Lewis, "to know we are not alone." Which may explain, too, why great bookshops are thriving despite the proliferation of e-readers and online sales. In the best bookshops, one is never short of companions, be they fellow readers or staff enamoured with reading. Here is our selection of bookshops you cannot afford to miss in Australia and abroad. Intimate wonderful bookshops woldwide ...
El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookshop in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

New antibiotic mined from human gut reverses drug resistance in superbugs


The clothes have no emperor, to coin a phrase. And leftist elites did permanent damage to their reputations by ignoring that fact, which everyone else could see but them. Or as Peggy Noonan wrote last week, “I don’t know about you but when people look down on me I want them to be distinguished or outstanding in some way—towering minds, people of exquisite sensibility or learning. Not these grubbly poseurs, these people who’ve never had a thought but only a sensation: Christians are backward, I saw it in a movie! It’s the big fact of American life now, isn’t it? That we are patronized by our inferiors.”

Found via an Insta-reader, who notes that “We already know that neither had secure email.”

IT REALLY HAS COME TO THIS: French police protest lawlessness
Hundreds of police officers have been protesting in Paris and other cities to denounce what they say are insufficient resources to fight mounting lawlessness, defying government demands that they stop the unauthorised demonstrations. Six months from an election, the protest, now in its third day, has put President François Hollande’s Socialist government on the defensive at a time when security forces are struggling to combat the threat of further terrorist attacks.

“…The thing that I hadn’t appreciated was that so much of the history of the book came from elsewhere, from China mostly. Just the invention of paper, which is absolutely vital, and then printing. I visited the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, which is a printing history museum. They have a type case full of Chinese movable type, and it’s gigantic. Western ones are about the same size as a writing desk. This Chinese type case, it wraps around you, like standing in a circular telephone booth entirely filled with type. To learn that that had come out of China was quite surprising, and it was quite nice to be able to take an excursion from the Gutenberg story, which is quite widely written about…”
Julia Angwin: “When Google bought the advertising network DoubleClick in 2007, Google founder Sergey Brin said that privacy would be the company’s “number one priority when we contemplate new kinds of advertising products.” And, for nearly a decade, Google did in fact keep DoubleClick’s massive database of web-browsing records separate by default from the names and other personally identifiable information Google has collected from Gmail and its other login accounts. But this summer, Google quietly erased that last privacy line in the sand – literally crossing out the lines in its privacy policy that promised to keep the two pots of data separate by default. In its place, Google substituted new language that says browsing habits “may be” combined with what the company learns from the use Gmail and other tools.  The change is enabled by default for new Google accounts. Existing users were prompted to opt-in to the change this summer…

Congressional Research Service reports are the best way for anyone to quickly get up to speed on major political issues without having to worry about spin — from the same source Congress uses. CRS is Congress’ think tank, and its reports are relied upon by academics, businesses, judges, policy advocates, students, librarians, journalists, and policymakers for accurate and timely analysis of important policy issues. The reports are not classified and do not contain individualized advice to any specific member of Congress. (More: What is a CRS report?) Until today, CRS reports were generally available only to the well-connected. Now, in partnership with a Republican and Democratic member of Congress, we are making these reports available to everyone for free online. A coalition of public interest groups, journalists, academics, students, some Members of Congress, and former CRS employees have been advocating for greater access to CRS reports for over twenty years. Two bills in Congress to make these reports widely available already have 10 sponsors (S. 2639 and H.R. 4702, 114th Congress) and we urge Congress to finish the job. This website shows Congress one vision of how it could be done.What does include? includes 8,255 CRS reports. The number changes regularly. It’s every CRS report that’s available on Congress’s internal website. We redact the phone number, email address, and names of virtually all the analysts from the reports. We add disclaimer language regarding copyright and the role CRS reports are intended to play. That’s it. If you’re looking for older reports, our good friends at may have them.” 

Internet Archive Blog, Michael Wolfe, Executive Director, Authors AllianceTo write a book takes time, effort, more often than not, love. Happily, books are built to last, and with the proper stewardship remain relevant, provide insight and information, or entertain for generations. So why is it that, when the internet provides more avenues than ever for making work accessible, the vast majority of books written in the last 100 years are out of print and largely unavailable? Authors Alliance has been working with its members to help recover their unavailable books and give them another public life. Since the release of our guide to Understanding Rights Reversion in 2015, we have provided information, assistance, and know-how to authors on the topic of recovering rights in order to bring back works that have fallen out of view. While many authors choose to make these recovered titles available commercially, a growing contingent has instead committed to ensuring their works endure in the public eye by making them available under Creative Commons licenses or dedicating them to the public domain. Many of our members’ titles are already discoverable through the HathiTrust digital library, and we are now partnering with the Internet Archive to make these works available in full on our new Authors Alliance Collection Page.”