“There are many things that would be lost if we slowly lose the cognitive patience to immerse ourselves in the worlds created by books and the lives and feelings of the “friends” who inhabit them. And although it is a wonderful thing that movies and film can do some of this, too, there is a difference in the quality of immersion that is made possible by entering the articulated thoughts of others. What will happen to young readers who never meet and begin to understand the thoughts and feelings of someone totally different?”
“According to state statistics, more than 1 million foreign tourists and football fans visited Russia in the first two months of this summer, contributing a growth in book sales reported to be almost 50 percent higher than were seen in the same timeframe of 2017.” The increased demand from visitors was largely for the classics, with the only widely-requested 20th-century titles being The Master and Margarita and Doctor Zhivago.
Words matter to me. I am a professional writer, after all. But then Gmail made it tantalizingly easy to say “hi” instead of “hey,” and Google’s prediction, albeit wrong at first, became self-fulfilling. It wasn’t until two weeks after I began using Smart Compose that I realized I had handed over a small part of my identity to an algorithm.
It turns out that many biographers and historians need to eat — and pay rent and buy clothes for their children. Such earthly demands push most scholars into academic jobs at colleges and universities, where they’re rewarded for producing arcane work that remains cloistered in the hallowed halls of academe.The National Endowment for the Humanities is determined to break down those walls. Since 2015, the NEH has been funding the Public Scholar program, an annual series of grants designed to promote the publication of scholarly nonfiction books for a general audience.
“Let’s go back to the Dickens model,” says Serial Box co-founder Molly Barton. “Let’s be Shonda Rhimes for books, and harness the power of telling a little bit of the story each week.” That’s what the company does, publishing books on the limited-TV-series model: the books come out in chapters meant to take 40 minutes to read (so you can do it on your commute); the various titles have seasons, writers’ rooms, and even showrunners; customers can purchase by the episode chapter, season, or entire span of a series.
Edwin Yoder: “Despite the warnings of C. S. Lewis and others, I am left echoing Eve’s question: if the beasts [can eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil], why not man? Why, having armed his new creatures with intellectual curiosity, should their thirst for intellectual adventure become the paramount sin and its exercise a cosmic catastrophe? This prohibition seems especially odd because it contradicts what we know of Milton the lifelong scholar and polymath.”
Lera Boroditsky, of Stanford University, has amassed interesting data on the effects of how we speak of things, such as that people who speak languages that use the same word for a pair of colours need more time to distinguish between them than ones who have a separate word for each – but they can distinguish between them. Mandarin speakers conceptualise time vertically while English speakers conceptualise it horizontally – but each language could use the other metaphor; it has the words for it.
Says James Geary, author of Wit’s End, “Puns point to the essence of all true wit — the ability to hold in the mind two different ideas about the same thing at the same time. … In poetry, words rhyme; in puns, ideas rhyme. This is the ultimate test of wittiness, keeping your balance even when you’re of two minds.”
Long after he had left the Alliance High School, Ngũgĩ was struck by how little he and his cohort had noticed, let alone responded to, their socialization into a Western-oriented outlook. Nor had he appreciated what role the school played in conferring class markers in a community that before hadn’t known that stratification. The school and everything it taught—and refused to teach—was accepted, even venerated, by the community. “The language of power is English and that becomes internalized,” he explained. “You normalize the abnormal and the absurdities of colonialism, and turn them into a norm from which you operate. Then you don’t even think about it.”