The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Midweek Miscellany

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Insufficiently Bored — An essay by author Toby Litt on technology and reading (and writing) at Granta:

Proposition: ‘The human race is no longer sufficiently bored with life to be distracted by an art form as boring as the novel.’

Perhaps novels will continue, but instead of the machine it will be the connectivity that stops, or becomes secondary.

What we’re going to see more and more of is the pseudo-contemporary novel – in which characters are, for some reason, cut off from one another, technologically cut off. Already, many contemporary novels avoid the truly contemporary (which is hyperconnectivity).

Rereading All Over Again — Bharat Tandon reviews On Rereading by Patricia Meyer Spacks and Second Reading by Jonathan Yardley for the TLS:

[If] rereading… teaches us anything, it is that the conjunctions between readerly and textual lives will always be unpredictable and promiscuous ones. “What did you make of that book?”, runs the conventional phrase. As we revisit the objects of our reading, like recognizable but weathered landmarks, there can be no full going back, because we are not exactly the same people we were; but the consolation of rereading is the knowledge that we are these different people in part because of what those books have made of us.

Artwork Confidential — An interview with Daniel Clowes about the first retrospective museum exhibition of his work, “Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes, and the accompanying monograph at Publishers Weekly:

[T]he work wasn’t created to be seen on a wall. The final artwork is the book. But I collect original artwork. It has a meaning to me that goes beyond the printed page. It’s the only [kind of] artwork you can see on a wall that you may already have a personal relationship with. If you read the story that that artwork comes from, you have a connection to it in a way you don’t have with a painting or something that’s only intended to be seen in that context. That made it interesting to me. There’s something about that final piece as an artifact of the printed work that gives it a certain value and magic. My goal with both [the exhibition and the book] is to get people interested in the work and then to read the books. If that is achieved, then both of these will have been a success.

And finally…

Six Degrees of Aggregation — A really fascinating history of the Huffington Post at the CJR:

Huffington Post, they understood, was not an enterprise whose core purpose was the creation of works of journalism—as significant or mundane as that can be. It was in the content business, which created all sorts of possibilities of what it could gather and, with a new headline and assorted tags, send back out, HuffPost’s logo affixed. Content would come to mean original reporting by Sam Stein or Ryan Grim from Washington, as well as Alec Baldwin’s blog, Robert Reich’s rants about the forsaking of the American worker, a “Best Retro Bathing Suits” slide show, “Why Women Gladly Date Ugly Men,” David Wood’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 10-part series on wounded veterans, “Nine Year Old Girl’s Twin Found Inside Her Stomach,” campaign dispatches from the Off The Bus citizen journalists, “Angelina and Brad Wow at Cannes,” and “Multitasking Wilts Your Results and Relationships”—as well as Nico Pitney’s blogging on the violence after the disputed 2009 Iranian presidential elections and the 111,000 comments it generated. Because comment was content, too.

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