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.
In Florida, legislators are wondering whether or not they should raise tuition costs for students studying the humanities, or really anything other than STEM fields. Likewise, James Dyson (yes, the vacuum guy) bemoans Britain’s abundance of “students choosing to read humanities at university.” As a rejoinder, one New Statesman blogger notes that the study of humanities does not inhibit technological innovation, and that as a bonus, “we gain from having people who reshape our cultural landscape and put things in new contexts.”
“Updike stopped cartooning while he was an undergraduate at Harvard. This is a factually true statement, but it ignores a larger reality. While Updike might have ceased cartooning, the visual language of comics was never far from his mind. Cartooning was an inextricable strand in his creative DNA.” Jeet Heer writes about John Updike, cartooning, fandom and “bedesque” prose for The Paris Review. Pair with James Santel‘s Millions essay on “The Curious Paradox of John Updike.”
There is good news for those of us whose dreams of artistic superstardom don’t seem to be panning out — a job listing from McSweeney’s seeking failed artists for an associate position. “We would hate for you to be pretentious,” the listing states, “but if you don’t regularly call other people pretentious — this might not be the job for you.”
Ever heard of the Collins Dictionary? It’s the open-source lexicographic collection which apparently accepted “thanx,” but likewise rejected “alleygation” and “mobydickulous.” Consider it the happy medium between The American Heritage and Urban dictionaries.
Some reviews of Dave Eggers’s new novel, Hologram for the King, are starting to appear: Carolyn Kellogg writes that the story is accessibly though “elegantly told,” and Michiko Kakutani describes the prose as almost surprisingly “pared down” and “Hemingwayesque.”