In the latest issue of The Boston Review, Elaine Scarry reviews Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature. Pinker argues that literature, by bolstering man's empathy, has lead to huge reductions in worldwide violence, a thesis that sounds dangerously close to the absurd pop-science of Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal.
Here’s some rare footage of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera hanging out with Leon Trotsky and Natalia Sedova in 1938. Here’s an awesome quote from Kahlo: “I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.” And finally, here’s a picture of Frida that’s even more awesome than both of those things.
A group of researchers from the University of Cambridge is using Twitter to help research the rapidly disappearing Welsh language “[because] tweets don’t follow the conventions of written language” and instead “provide an authentic snapshot of spoken language.” (Bonus: Twitter’s stunning visualizations of “tweet geography.”)
NPR offers a nifty gallery that accompanies the publication of this quirky collection: Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure.The Coen Brothers have signed on to helm the film version of Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union. The big-screen version of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, meanwhile, is nowhere to be found (though it's reportedly been in the works for years).Elsewhere in book-to-movie news, Ian McEwen is pleased with the film version of his novel Atonement.Poet and critic Reginald Shepherd reflects on becoming a blogger. "Until a couple of years ago, I barely knew what a blog was, and certainly had never seen one," he writes. But it proved quite fruitful: "it sometimes seems that my blog has done more to raise my profile than all my more-than-fifteen years of copious publishing put together."Five reasons not to give up books (the paper ones, as opposed the digital counterparts.)I think it's an ad for a video game, but this video contains some masterful soccer kung fu.None of us at The Millions is affiliated with Princeton, but this list of the school's most influential alums is interesting in a random sort of way.The new half-hour HBO show In Treatment is a free podcast at the iTunes store. The show stars Gabriel Byrne as a psychotherapist and each episode represents a single session with one of five patients.The writers' strike is over. The resulting carnage on the schedules for all your favorite shows is laid out here.
“I’ve spent my whole professional life swirling the eddies of the margins… What I want right now is to see my book in an airport. Then in a couple of years everyone will figure out that I’m too esoteric, and I’ll be back…" The New York Times posts a curious interview with the unconventional Jaimy Gordon, winner of this year's National Book Award.