Much fuss was made about Barack Obama’s ex-girlfriends this week, as an excerpt from David Maraniss’ forthcoming Barack Obama: The Story was published in Vanity Fair. Of course, we sophisticated book readers care less about the man’s old flames than we do his literary pursuits, right? That’s why Mr. President’s analysis of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland” is so interesting.
“Pornography has changed unrecognizably from its so-called golden age—the period, in the sixties and seventies, when adult movies had theatrical releases and seemed in step with the wider moment of sexual liberation, and before V.H.S. drove down production quality, in the eighties. Today’s films are often short and nearly always hard-core; that is, they show penetrative sex. Among the most popular search terms in 2015 were ‘anal,’ ‘amateur,’ ‘teen,’ and—one that would surely have made Freud smile—’mom and son.'” The New Yorker attempts to make some sense of modern pornography.
Among the many quotable and occasionally perplexing lines in this interview with V. S. Naipual is this one, which the Bend In The River author drops upon hearing that his interviewer, Isaac Chotiner, is a fan of P. G. Wodehouse: “I can’t read Wodehouse. The thought of, shall we say, facing three or four months of nothing but Wodehouse novels fills me with horror.”
“All over the country research libraries are canceling subscriptions to academic journals,” notes Robert Darnton, “because they are caught between decreasing budgets and increasing costs. The logic of the bottom line is inescapable, but there is a higher logic that deserves consideration—namely, that the public should have access to knowledge produced with public funds.”