- “My mind is so dumb when I write. Each story requires a different style of stupidity … I don’t know how the mind works, but isn’t there a part of it that deals specifically with reason and sense? The brainy asshole of the mind? … That asshole is my intellect. He’s a really shitty writer, as you might imagine.” Lorin Stein interviews Ottessa Moshfegh.
- Librarians versus algorithms: Who recommends better books? The latest developments in a John Henry story.
- A new exhibition at Tate Britain shows paintings alongside William Hazlitt’s criticism about them, reminding us of what a vital, unusually perceptive critic he was. “One purrs at what he’d have made of the homogenized, commercialized art world of today—and how surgically he might have cut into it.”
- Sven Birkerts in (and on) convalescence: “How the feel of time changes when all the terms are altered. What on most days had moved with an almost hectic momentum, an ill-choreographed succession of one thing after another, one day just halted, causing the hours to then pool up behind it: the afternoon immobilized, with almost nothing to mark the change or confirm that this is not the world paralyzed into still life.”
- Grady Gordon makes monotype prints “by removing thick black ink from a plexiglass surface.” They’re ghoulish. They “bring about the characters that inhabit the invisible plane.” They make great gifts for your enemies.
William Hazlitt, born in England on April 10, 1778, had a diverse and storied career in the arts: he was an essayist, a philosopher, an art critic, a literary critic, a drama critic, a cultural critic, and—just to even things out—a painter. Despite their age, his essays remain surprisingly readable. They are, in their sense of purpose and their tweedy vastness, distinctly nineteenth-century English; Hazlitt’s subjects are so broad, so plainly monumental, that any undergraduate who dared to write on them today would be flunked immediately. (His essay “On Great and Little Things” begins, “The great and the little have, no doubt, a real existence in the nature of things.”)
Hazlitt also chose his acquaintances wisely, at least insofar as many of them wound up ascending into the canon: Wordsworth, Stendhal, Charles and Mary Lamb. His landlord was Jeremy Bentham. But then there was Coleridge, ah, Coleridge! In his 1823 essay “My First Acquaintance with Poets,” Hazlitt rhapsodizes about his first encounter with the poet, who would become a kind of distant mentor, though later there came the requisite falling-out. It’s a gushing account, endearingly thorough and fanboy-ish, full of deft turns of phrase—and it humanizes both men, reminding us that these two Dead White Guys were once … Living White Guys, with fears and ambitions and impressive heads of hair. Read More
- The lit-flick streak continues! The Palme d’Or is likely to go to one of several adaptations.
- As Harry Potter mania fades, hundreds of pet owls are being abandoned across England.
- How to open a new book.
- Quiche Lorraine, the comic.
- Need inspiration? Dial-a-poem!
- Andrew Ladd decodes Blurbese for the nonreviewer.
- When less is more: minimalist covers.
- Cineastes! Help save an endangered film before it’s too late!
- William Hazlitt, “On the Pleasure of Hating.”