"These seven moral rules – love your family, help your group, return favors, be brave, defer to authority, be fair, and respect others’ property – appear to be universal across cultures. My colleagues and I analyzed ethnographic accounts of ethics from 60 societies (comprising over 600,000 words from over 600 sources). We found that these seven cooperative behaviors were always considered morally good."
Scientists have been at this question for several years, studying people’s activity online and revealing interesting trends as to what makes content eye-catching and more likely to go viral. Emotional arousal is one key determinant. After analyzing 7,000 articles from the New York Times, Jonah Berger and Katherine Milkman from UPenn found that one of the main factors driving readers to share a story via email was how much it stirred them up.
"I am very aware that I make my living with a weird grab bag of skills that probably shouldn’t add up to anything. My primary skill is that I’m a good editor. That’s the main thing I do all week. From the start it was the one thing in journalism I had a natural talent for … an easy command of. I also have a bunch of showbizzy skills that go into packaging material into a program – pacing and flow and humor and emotional arcs. Stuff I learned basically in high school musicals and as a teenaged magician at children’s birthday parties."
"There is a sense that history's alleged tendency to repeat itself is particularly pronounced in the cultural value debate, and with respect to efforts to 'demonstrate' the value of arts and culture. Have we made progress in the past 30 years, or is it true that we have been going in circles? ... Patrycja Kaszynska, the lead on the Cultural Value Scoping Project, spoke to Ian David Moss, founder of Createquity, about ideas and emerging trends in cultural value research."
What has changed is not so much the level of noise, which previous centuries also complained about, but the level of distraction, which occupies the space that silence might invade. There looms another paradox, because when it does invade—in the depths of a pine forest, in the naked desert, in a suddenly vacated room—it often proves unnerving rather than welcome. Dread creeps in; the ear instinctively fastens on anything, whether fire-hiss or bird call or susurrus of leaves, that will save it from this unknown emptiness. People want silence, but not that much.
Weaponized classical music is just the next step in the commodification of the genre. Today, most young people encounter classical music not as a popular art form but as a class signifier, a set of tropes in a larger system of encoded communication that commercial enterprises have exploited to remap our societal associations with orchestral sound. Decades of cultural conditioning have trained the public to identify the symphony as sonic shorthand for social status — and, by extension, exclusion from that status. The average American does not recognize the opening chords of The Four Seasons as the sound of spring but the sound of snobbery.
The author says she can't remember what provided the inspiration for the novels, and that she definitely did not have everything plotted out from the beginning: "I never plan my stories. A detailed outline is enough for me to lose interest in the whole thing. Even a brief oral summary makes the desire to write what I have in mind vanish. I am one of those who begin to write knowing only a few essential features of the story they intend to tell. The rest they discover line by line."
This is quite the feature. Yikes: "It is the kind of bitter farce that might result if August Strindberg were to emerge from the grave to watch the dandies from the academy pelt each other with champagne glasses. And Strindberg, whose path to early 20th century literary greatness in Sweden was filled with hatred and scorn, likely wouldn't even find it possible to hate them, as consumed as he would be with disdain."
A book publicist took action after Barnes & Noble in the Bronx - the last bookstore (at that point) in the borough - shut its doors. But it took social media to make it real: "Fennell put out a call on Twitter, where most of her followers are people in book publishing and other media professionals. The response was overwhelming. Hundreds of people donated to her Kickstarter campaign, which met and exceeded its $30,000 goal in just over a week. Authors and publishers stepped forward to join her planning board, helping her confirm speakers for the event."