If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrick used the first emoticon in his 1648 poem “To Fortune.” As Herrick writes, “Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)” For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel’s piece on commercial grammar.
While East Coasters are still dealing with the wrath of Hurricane Irene, the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina passed yesterday. NPR has a timely interview with host Michel Martin, musician Irvin Mayfield and Keith Spera, author of Groove Interrupted: Loss, Renewal and the Music of New Orleans. Likewise, Rivka Galchen‘s 2009 Harper’s essay “Disaster Aversion” bears re-reading.
“Contemporary criticism is positively crowded with first-person pronouns, micro-doses of memoir, brief hits of biography. Critics don’t simply wrestle with their assigned cultural object; they wrestle with themselves, as well. Recent examples suggest a spectrum, from reviews that harmlessly kick off with a personal anecdote, to hybrid pieces that blend literary criticism and longform memoir.” On why critics get personal in their essays.