“Check it out for yourself to marvel at the the long history of our language, including but not limited to the origins of the term ‘rock snot.’” The AV Club reports that the word nerds at Merriam-Webster have launched Time Traveler, a new tool that lets users look at the timing around when new words entered the print lexicon. Consider, also, authority and American usage.
“I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.” Go and check out this fascinating profile of Ben Rhodes, the “Boy Wonder of the Obama Whitehouse,” who dropped out of his second year at NYU’s M.F.A. program after witnessing the attacks on September 11th to take up a life of international affairs and foreign policy. When asked about whom he would choose write the story of his work life, Rhodes picked novelist Don DeLillo: “He is the only person I can think of who has confronted these questions of, you know, the individual who finds himself negotiating both vast currents of history and a very specific kind of power dynamics. That’s his milieu. And that’s what it’s like to work in the U.S. foreign-policy apparatus in 2016.”
n+1 provides a fascinating study of today’s divisive concept of cultural elitism: “Today, though, it’s the bearers of culture rather than the wielders of power who are taxed with elitism. If the term is applied to powerful people, this is strictly for cultural reasons, as the different reputations of the identically powerful Obama and Bush attest. No one would think to call a foul-mouthed four-star general an elitist, even though he commands an army, any more than the term would cover a private equity titan who hires Rod Stewart to serenade his 60th birthday party.”
I’ve written before about the First Sentence series at Granta. The magazine asks a prominent writer to explain how they came to write an opening line. Recently, they asked Bear Down, Bear North author Melinda Moustakis to talk about the beginning of her story “River So Close”: “She’s a good-for-nothing chummer.” You could also read Jonathan Russell Clark on the art of the opening sentence.