- “One cannot read a book,” Nabokov famously said, “one can only reread it.” That’s pleasant and all—certainly it flatters our sense of elitism, suggesting that “aesthetic appreciation requires exhaustive knowledge only of the best”—but doesn’t it amount to sophistry? “No reader ever really takes complete control of a book—it’s an illusion—and perhaps to expend vast quantities of energy seeking to do so is a form of impoverishment … Is it really wise to renounce all the impressions that a thousand books could bring, all that living, for the wisdom of five or six?”
- Today in the age of mechanical reproduction: the Smithsonian is 3-D printing prehistoric skulls. They have no intention of trying to pass off the replicas as authentic—they just want to share more of their skulls with the world, and 3-D printing them is the easiest way to do so. “Still, the proliferation of replicas does stand to diminish the value of the real thing. The museums that own the original skulls depend on income from visitors and model making, so the Smithsonian will limit production and keep the skulls’ 3-D ‘blueprints’ to itself.”
- Great news for poets! Bots have obviated the need for your art. They are, in fact, your art. Condolences. “I was thinking of writing a poem about bots, but that’s already so ten minutes ago, and anyway, some bot has already written that poem. Does it matter? These days people are writing poems about fucking on volcanoes. ‘We fucked on a volcano.’ How does that help? … You can expand the poetic field to include ‘we fucked on a volcano’ or even ‘the whole week we fucked on a volcano,’ and you can expand it to include bots, and so what? It’s bigger now … everything is.”
- Relatedly: conversations between bots are nearly indistinguishable from Beckett plays. Bots are dramatists, too.
Z.: Then leave.
Y.: How did you know?
Z.: Just leave.
Y.: You leave.
Z.: I don’t even know how.
- New to the Oxford English Dictionary: twerk, intersectionality, staycation, presidentiable, SCOTUS.
- The first use of OMG? This letter to Winston Churchill may be of tremendous significance to the history of texting.
- A collection of rare dictionaries is expected to fetch up to one million dollars at auction, although you can snatch up James Caulfield’s Blackguardiana: or, A Dictionary of Rogues, Bawds, Pimps, Whores, Pickpockets, Shoplifters… for three to five thousand dollars.
- “A DIY spirit has possessed Atlanta’s writers and readers, who are taking literature out of the stuffy confines of the library and into coffeehouses, bars, galleries, and event spaces.”
- “In the last couple of days, my book has caused quite a flurry of controversy—or rather, a misrepresentation of it has.” Clearing up the OED scandal.
- Kurt Vonnegut’s rules for reading fiction: a 1965 term paper assignment.