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Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Full-Color Book Espresso Machines, and Other News

November 15, 2013 | by

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  • The first full-cover book espresso machine comes to Books-a-Million of Portland, Maine.
  • Bukowski in Hollywood.
  • Google wins its epic book-scanning battle.
  • Michiko Kakutani loves the phrase “deeply felt.”
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    In Praise of the Flâneur

    October 17, 2013 | by

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    Reworking of Paul Gavarni’s Le Flâneur by Spenot.

    Little things in life supplant the “great events.” —Peter Altenberg, as translated by Peter Wortsman

    The figure of the flâneur—the stroller, the passionate wanderer emblematic of nineteenth-century French literary culture—has always been essentially timeless; he removes himself from the world while he stands astride its heart. When Walter Benjamin brought Baudelaire’s conception of the flâneur into the academy, he marked the idea as an essential part of our ideas of modernism and urbanism. For Benjamin, in his critical examinations of Baudelaire’s work, the flâneur heralded an incisive analysis of modernity, perhaps because of his connotations: “[the flâneur] was a figure of the modern artist-poet, a figure keenly aware of the bustle of modern life, an amateur detective and investigator of the city, but also a sign of the alienation of the city and of capitalism,” as a 2004 article in the American Historical Review put it. Since Benjamin, the academic establishment has used the flâneur as a vehicle for the examination of the conditions of modernity—urban life, alienation, class tensions, and the like.

    In the ensuing decades, however, the idea of flânerie as a desirable lifetsyle has fallen out of favor, due to some arcane combination of increasing productivity—hello, fruits of the Industrial Revolution!—and the modern horror at the thought of doing absolutely nothing. (See: Michael Jordan’s “retirements.”) But as we grow inexorably busier—due in large part to the influence of technology—might flânerie be due for a revival?

    If contemporary literature is any indication, the answer is a soft yes. Take Teju Cole’s debut novel, Open City. Cole’s narrator, Julius, wanders up and down Manhattan, across the Atlantic to Brussels and back again, while off-handedly delivering bits of wisdom and historical insight. It’s not just that Open City is beautifully written, though that’s certainly true. Cole’s skill manifests itself in depicting the dreamy psychogeographic landscape—and accompanying amorality and solipsism—of Julius’s mind. Riding behind his eyes is a trip; even though we’re in his head, the tone of his thoughts still sets us at a distance.

    Tao Lin’s recently released Taipei achieves something similar. As Ian Sansom wrote in the Guardian, “Passage after passage in the novel dwells on the meaning of disassociation and self-exile.” Read More »

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    Google Guide to the Galaxy, and Other News

    March 11, 2013 | by

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    Bookish Cakes, and Other News

    March 4, 2013 | by

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  • Happy Monday. Here are some cakes inspired by books!
  • Nineteen Charles Bukowski drawings have come to light; most of them illustrated his column for the Los Angeles Free Press.
  • A poem written by a thirteen-year-old Charlotte Brontë is expected to fetch at least £40,000 at auction.
  • “If there has ever been a golden age for the unconventionally named author, it is now.” Bylines in the age of Google.
  • The 2013 Tournament of Books is on.
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    Happy Birthday, Bram Stoker

    November 8, 2012 | by

    Web surfers will have noticed Google’s celebration of the Dracula scribe’s big 1-6-5 in today’s doodle. But the celebrations don’t end there: Galleycat has rounded up free Stoker e-books, while those across the pond enjoy a Bram Stoker Wedding. Enjoy an excerpt from the 1922 silent film version of Nosferatu:

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    The Grand Map

    October 5, 2011 | by

    RV890, Norway 2011.

    Toward the end of Lewis Carroll’s endlessly unfurling saga Sylvie & Bruno, we find the duo sitting at the feet of Mein Herr, an impish fellow endowed with a giant cranium. The quirky little man regales the children with stories about life on his mysterious home planet.

    “And then came the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country, on the scale of a mile to the mile!”
    “Have you used it much?” I enquired.
    “It has never been spread out, yet,” said Mein Herr. “The farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight! So we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.”

    Among Mein Herr’s many big ideas, none is as familiar to us as the Grand Map. We use it, or a version of it, on a daily basis. With Google Street View, which allows us to traverse instantly from a schematic road map into the tumult of the road itself, we boldly zoom from the map to the territory and back. As the Herr said, “we now use the country itself as its own map.” Read More »

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