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Posts Tagged ‘borders’

Looks Are Not Styles, and Other News

July 8, 2016 | by

Filters, bro.

  • The police murders of so many black men have been caught on video, putatively for the sake of justice. But these videos perpetuate themselves with the same moral ambiguity that comes with war photography or any document of suffering. As Ezekiel Kweku writes of Alton Sterling, “I was detached enough to critique the video of his death, classify it, find myself consigning it to genre. I’ve long passed the point at which watching these videos makes me feel like a helpless bystander—I am another distance removed. At this point, I am a critic of images of men like me, dying. I’m a connoisseur … For these videos to prick the conscience, that conscience must already value the lives of those who are dying. Otherwise, the videos are simply lurid entertainment, the modern version of the postcard-size images of lynchings that were passed around during the last century.”
  • While we’re on the power of images: Ricky D’Ambrose contrasts the “looks” of the Instagram-and-design age with legitimate style. “Style annuls the impersonal … A look—insofar as it has any resemblance to style at all—is a kind of instant style: quickly executed and dispatched, immediately understood, overcharged with incident. To say that a film, a photograph, a painting, or a room’s interior has a look is to assume a consensus about which parts of a nascent image are the most worthy of being parceled out and reproduced on a massive scale. It means making a claim about how familiar an image is, and how valuable it seems.”
  • Americans and Canadians. What could ever unite these two disparate peoples, given their distinct views on the welfare state and their radically different approaches to bacon? I’ll tell you what: a library. Sarah Yahm reports that “for nearly 200 years Derby Line, Vermont, and Stanstead, Quebec, essentially functioned as one town. Citizens drank the same water, worked in the same tool factory, played the same sports … They also shared the same cultural center, the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, an ornate Victorian edifice built deliberately on top of the international border in 1901 by the Canadian wife of a wealthy American merchant … Against all logic, the Haskell Free Library and Opera House continues to serve both Vermonters and Quebecers, and remains a transnational space that residents from both the U.S. and Canada can enter without a passport. Today, it is the only library in the world that exists and operates in two countries at once.”

Clairvoyant Observation

March 9, 2016 | by

A vision of Wallace Stevens’s “Sunday Morning” at its centenary.

Diane Szczepaniak, Stanza 6 (Is there no change of death in paradise).

When “Sunday Morning” was first published in the November 1915 issue of Poetry, just over a hundred years ago, Wallace Stevens was thirty-six; the poem was one of his first major publications. He’d recently moved to the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, where he would spend the rest of his life insuring people against the hazards of sudden change. His professional and poetic lives converged on that fact: everything changes.

A spiritual meditation for a secular era, “Sunday Morning” glows with the ripe colors of late summer and early autumn, brief arc segments of the seasonal cycle whose rhythms Stevens celebrates.

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In 2007, my mother, Diane Szczepaniak, a lifelong abstract painter and sculptor, began to memorize “Sunday Morning.” She was unaccustomed to memorization; it became a kind of ritual for her. She kept Stevens’s book by her bed and worked through the poem line by line. As she built each stanza in her memory, she began to paint her experience of the images, music, and emotions carried by the language. The paintings became her “Sunday Morning” seriesRead More »

Because, and Other News

January 8, 2014 | by

WE_MUST_WIN_THIS_WAR_BECAUSE

  • The American Dialect Society—how do we join?—has voted because the word of the year. They chose because because becauseexploded with new grammatical possibilities in informal online use.”
  • In the Midwest, towns are living without Borders. (The defunct bookstore chain, not the metaphorical limitation.) Some independent bookstores have even cropped up in its place.
  • How did Reddit’s brilliant AMA series go from geeky to mainstream? (Did you know The Paris Review did one last year?)
  • “Of course, my definition of evil is not everybody else’s. Evil is being involved in the glamour and charm of material existence, glamour in its old Gaelic sense meaning enchantment with the look of things, rather than the soul of things.” An expansive interview with the singular Kenneth Anger.
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    Your Borders Gift Card Is Useless, and Other News

    May 24, 2013 | by

    "Useless, useless." - John Wilkes Booth

    “Useless, useless.” —John Wilkes Booth

  • Listen to James Salter read (Booker-winning!) Lydia Davis’s “Break It Down.”
  • We sort of would have assumed this, but apparently it took a Manhattan federal judge to declare that unredeemed Borders gift cards are, in fact, worthless. (Sorry, everyone whose bar and bat mitzvahs I attended!)
  • Oh dear. Poet David R. Morgan has confessed to multiple instances of plagiarism. (He says he’s “deeply sorry.”)
  • Meet Rosamunde Pilcher. In her native England, “the eighty-eight-year-old is regarded as a successful, if stylistically limited, writer of romantic novel. In Germany, she is nothing short of a national heroine—Julian Fellowes, Colin Dexter, and Ealing Studios rolled into one. More than one hundred of her love stories, set in Cornwall and Devon, have been turned into television films, all shot on location—but with German actors—and invariably aired on Sunday afternoons.”
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    Allen Ginsberg Snaps, and Other News

    January 25, 2013 | by

  • Should you fancy some of the two-foot letters from the recently disassembled Borders flagship sign, you can bid for them on eBay, with all profits going to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. And as someone who owns an S from an old marquee, I will judge you not at all.
  • An exhibition of beat-era Allen Ginsberg photographs is on display at Grey Art Gallery. The captions, which read like speedy mini-poems, are the best part.
  • The Following, a new Fox drama that features—along with Kevin Bacon and many other things—a Poe-obsessed serial killer, is probably no threat to the author’s legacy. However, it’s fun to read the tally of the show’s crimes against literature.
  • “I haven’t read my rivals because I think it could be a deeply demoralising process,” quoth Hilary Mantel.
  • Oh, and Judge Dredd might be gay.

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    Jolly Writers, and Other News

    January 4, 2013 | by

  • Happy Friday. Here are twenty photos of authors whooping it up.
  • By way of balance, a catalogue of authors’ ailments.
  • The end of an era: the Borders flagship sign comes down.
  • In related news, Barnes & Noble reported tepid holiday sales.
  • “There aren’t any obvious candidates for the Nobel Prize and the prize committee is in an unenviable situation.” The lackluster rationale for Steinbeck’s 1962 win. (Lawrence Durrell, meanwhile, “gives a dubious aftertaste … because of [his] monomaniacal preoccupation with erotic complications.”)
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