The VQR‘s last issue, “The Soviet Ghost,” was one of the most heart-wrenching reading experiences I’ve had in a long time. Now it’s got a series of video interviews with Chernobyl workers to seriously depress (and also greatly inform) you all over again.
Writing in the London Review of Books (Reg. Req.), Evgeny Morozov clued me onto how "scientists at UCLA – with funding from the Chinese government – have built an ‘image to text’ system that automatically produces text summaries of what is taking place in captured video." A similar technology was also developed by NYU student Matt Richardson, whose "descriptive camera" can "automatically describe the scene in a camera's viewfinder, which, when the image was uploaded, would make it easier to find." Meanwhile one Twitter is describing typical Instagram shots in 140 characters or fewer.
Feeling a bit too happy lately? Want to be utterly bummed out? Then read through this assortment of depressing graphs, provided by Rebecca Makkai. They include graphs about MFAs, a bar graph about book clubs, and a pie chart expressing the probability that you are Alice Munro.
Gordon Lish is famous for being Raymond Carver's very involved editor, but his work has never been thoroughly considered before. David Winters, Greg Gerke, and Jason Lucarelli have set out to change that with a roundtable discussion of Lish's legacy. "What can we learn from Lish? Well, we can take away a set of techniques, to be sure; 'rules,' if rules are useful to us. But we can also salvage something that looks almost lost in our time: a sense of the real, lived stakes of writing, its risks and its rewards."
Speaking of France: whether or not you find him disagreeable, Michel Houellebecq is pretty much guaranteed to elicit an emotional response from readers. His new opinion piece in The New York Times is no different. Here’s a review of Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory that refers to him as a “petty misanthrope.”