The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Supine Access to Your Favorite Tome, and Other News

May 28, 2014 | by

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An illustration from an advertisement for the Holloway Reading Stand and Dictionary Holder, c. 1892; image via Retronaut.

  • Around 1892, the world of books greeted perhaps the most salient advance since the invention of the printing press: the Holloway Reading Stand and Dictionary Holder. “For invalids and those accustomed to read themselves asleep it is invaluable … The tired man or woman may read while resting.”
  • Working for J. D. Salinger’s agent: “One of Ms. Rakoff’s tasks was to respond to the steady stream of fan mail for the legendarily reclusive author … The letters, many of them handwritten, were personal and passionate. There were old men who had served with the author in the war and young people discovering the hypocrisy of the real world for the first time. Ms. Rakoff went off script and began to write back, giving the fans her own advice and opinions.”
  • What explains the spate of novels about famous novelists’ wives? “Vera Nabokov, as far as I know, has not yet been transformed into the heroine of a novel. But it's only a matter of time. The demand for fiction cast in the template of ‘the creative person’s wife’ shows little sign of abating.”
  • Remembering Bernard Natan, “a Romanian Jew who immigrated to Paris in 1905 and went on to become a titan of French film, a man whose brand name, for a time, rivaled that of Gaumont and Pathé, founding fathers of le cinéma français. At once media visionary and rapacious entrepreneur, he burned bright over the City of Lights until an arrest for fraud sent him crashing to earth.”
  • “An emergency gives reading a practical urgency, but practical urgency and literature have little business mixing. This is exactly why reading, at its best, is good for you: there’s almost never an immediate, practical reason to do it. It cuts against the grain of the everyday—of the jobs we have to work, the bills we have to pay, the conversations and fashions we’ve been convinced we need to keep up with, the stock language and thought that float in our cultural ether, clogging our vision.”

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The First Footage from the Cinematograph

March 19, 2014 | by

On March 19, 1895, 119 years ago, August and Louis Lumière made the inaugural recording with their newly patented cinematograph, a sixteen-pound camera made to compete with Edison’s nascent kinetoscope. The cinematograph was powered by a hand crank, and it improved on the kinetoscope in that it incorporated a projector, which allowed a large audience to take in its spectacles. (Edison’s machine had only a peephole; maybe he thought moving pictures would appeal exclusively to voyeurs. And maybe they do.) The perforated film reel in a cinematograph was easier to hold in place, which meant it produced sharper, stabler images than had ever been seen.

This first film, La Sortie des usines Lumière à Lyon, features, as its title promises, workers leaving the Lumière factory in Lyon. What’s remarkable to me is how purely documentary this footage is: no one breaks the fourth wall. Even the dog isn’t terribly curious. If I were toiling in a factory all day, about to play a part in the debut of a revolutionary new technology, I would be sure to wave at the camera on my way out.

 

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Listening to Stonehenge, and Other News

March 11, 2014 | by

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Photo: The Stonehenge Stone Circle, via Flickr

 

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Salty Language for Kids, and Other News

February 5, 2014 | by

children swearing

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Gchatting with George Saunders

December 23, 2013 | by

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All this week, we are bringing you some of your favorite posts from 2013. Happy holidays!

On Valentine’s Day, George Saunders agreed to Gchat with The Paris Review Daily to discuss his use of the modern vernacular in fiction; his new book, Tenth of December; as well as Nicki Minaj and what is, according to Saunders, one of the great undernarrrated pleasures of living.

 

George: Hi Katherine - ready on this end when you are

me: Hi George!
I am prepared

George: Well, I’m not sure I am. But I am willing. :)

me: we could just do the whole thing as emoticons

:/ :l :?

George: Man, you are a virtuosiii of emoticons.

me: A symptom of my generation...

George: I only know that one.

me: You only know happiness, then.

George: No - I only know the SYMBOL for happiness. Like, I can’t do ENNUI. Read More »

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Bad Call: Meditations on the Pocket Dial

September 25, 2013 | by

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Still from the film Brief Encounter (1945).

My acquaintances rarely call me, but their pockets and purses ring me up faithfully. So it is for the Abigails and Aarons, the Abdullahs and Aaliyahs, A. A. and AAA—and one mustn’t forget the Yaschas and Yankels, the Xenas and Zinos. We alphabetical extremists, we who crown and conclude your contact lists: we aren’t a call away so much as a few unintended nudges. Perhaps your finger, seeking lipstick, flicks the “Contacts” key, and your phone highlights the earliest entry—dear old Abelard!—and your knuckle strikes “Call.” Perhaps, in the thick of all that accidental action, your pinky pokes the “Up” button, taking you to the list’s final entry: then it’s cousin Zabrina you’ve piped into your life.

Not to alarm you; not to suggest that, at this very minute, an army of Abners and Zilpahs are listening to their cell phones with unseemly interest, picking up on secrets you had never meant to share. No, it’s far more likely we’re hearing whish-whoosh, whish-whoosh: the song of your stride.

Is there anything quite like the pocket dial? Does any other form of social intercourse invite us—actually, mandate us—to spy on our acquaintances?

Mandate? you ask. Yes, mandate, at least for a few moments. “Hello?” we say, and listen. “Hello?” we say again. And hear the background music of our friends’ lives: the slamming doors, the roaring traffic, the whish and the whoosh. Where is he walking? we wonder. Why is she shouting? And we never find out. Unless, of course, we keep listening.

Which I don’t. Hardly ever. Only under duress. When, for instance, years ago, the enigmatic and taciturn youth I had recently started dating called me while he was catching up with his mom. This isn’t invasion, I told myself guiltily, as I noted his thoughtful inquiries and nodded with approval. This is research. This is good for the team. Read More »

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