David Foster Wallace wrote the best bitter takedown (PDF) of the cruise ship industry ever, but he only had to endure a 7-night vacation. Imagine his horror, then, if he had been forced to spend significant time on The World, a $20,000+/month ship that continuously circumnavigates the world and has permanent passengers in its 165 private residences. For a more detailed glimpse at life on board the ship, check out Anthony Bourdain’s Gourmet piece on his 2003 visit.
“If we are now relentlessly connected, every marginal identity gaining collective recognition, becoming assimilated, ever more rapidly? If that is where we stand, then something like a stubbornly solitary voice may be welcome, even necessary, telling us that what it means to be human—and what may keep us human—is to feel alone in a strange room, with our seclusion the thing that defines and can save us.” On bearing witness to the spectacle of aloneness and the fiction of empathy.
In a piece for The Atlantic, Micah Mattix responds to the 50th Anniversary Edition of Lunch Poems with a reflection on the social media-esque quality of Frank O'Hara's poetry. "O'Hara's Lunch Poems—like Facebook posts or tweets—shares, saves, and re-creates the poet’s experience of the world. He addresses others in order to combat a sense of loneliness, sharing his gossipy, sometimes snarky take of modern life, his unfiltered enthusiasm, and his boredom in a direct, conversational tone. In short, Lunch Poems, while 50 years old, is a very 21st-century book."
"Porn, Cyberterrorism, The Russian Mob and the Future of Literature" A piece exploring the coming insurrection: digitization - and thus democratization - of books.
Recommended Reading: Elisa Gabbert at Guernica on the relationship between ideas and language. “How can the name come after the concept if you need the name to understand the concept? This problem of circularity always made me resistant to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in its strong version, which states that our thoughts are bound by the restraints of our language.”
Tim Weiner won the Pulitzer Prize for Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. Then, four years after its publication, he received a box of J. Edgar Hoover's "personal files on [FBI] intelligence operations between 1945 and 1972" from a well-connected D.C. lawyer. That treasure trove of information has since wound up in his recently published book, Enemies: A History of the FBI, and he sat with NPR's Terry Gross to talk all about it.