“Literature is the record we have of the conversation between those of us now alive on earth and everyone who’s come before and will come after, the cumulative repository of humanity’s knowledge, wonder, curiosity, passion, rage, grief and delight. It’s as useless as a spun-sugar snowflake and as practical as a Swiss Army knife.” Dana Stevens and Adam Kirsch discuss whether literature should be considered useful.
Courtney Traub talks with Kevin Begos, Jr, publisher of Agrippa, a Book of the Dead, a 1992 book that contains an encrypted poem by William Gibson set to self-erase after a single reading. Begos explains his intentions when creating the book, and Traub recounts the difficulties Oxford recently had when deciding how to archive a work that deliberately resists preservation. Gibson’s newest book, Distrust That Particular Flavor, made our list of the most anticipated releases of 2012. Also don’t forget to read our review of Gibson’s 2010 novel, Zero History.
Has Joan Didion become “the Ultimate Literary Celebrity“? In an article for the New Republic Laura Marsh says “yes,” and then explains how that happened. Marsh’s efforts pair well with Franklin Strong‘s recent Millions essay on “The Manliness of Joan Didion,” Joan Didion being a literary figure who easily adapts to any description.
Did you major in social sciences or the humanities as an undergraduate? If so, it might’ve been because someone in your family had a mood disorder or a problem with substance abuse. A new survey published by Princeton University posits that “a family history of psychiatric conditions, such as autism and depression, could influence the subjects a person finds engaging.”