In 1992, William Gibson published Agrippa, a poem coded on a floppy disk such that after one reading it would destroy itself forever. Quinn DuPont, a PhD student studying cryptography, built an emulation of the self-destructing poem and has a challenge to cyberpunks and cryptographers: be the first person to crack the poem’s code and win a copy of every one of Gibson’s books ever published.
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the "dispassionate first-person narrators" prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. "Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian."
Recommended Reading: Michael J. Avogino's "Total Utter Madness: A Story of Soccer" from the Tin House archives. If you're going to watch soccer all day, might as well throw some good writing in there too, right? An example: "Life would go on, as would the sport of soccer and all that came with it: the brotherhood, the ethnocentricity, the sportsmanship, the nationalism, the love, the regionalism, the racism, class conflict, the sublime, the nonsensical, amongst white, black, brown, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Jew, everyone guilty and innocent."
As part of their Sunday Interview series, The Rumpus had a chat with Leslie Jamison, who talked to Martha Bayne about The Empathy Exams, the ubiquity of Frozen and the pathos of Taylor Swift. If you like, you could also take a look at our own Edan Lepucki’s interview with Jamison, or else read Ryan Teitman’s review of The Empathy Exams.
Nollywood is the name given to Nigeria's $500 million movie business. For about the same amount of money that was spent on the promotion and production of James Cameron's Avatar, Nollywood is able to churn out a thousand films each year, trailing only Bollywood and Hollywood in terms of revenue.
Somewhere along the way, the word "cool" became "the most popular slang term of approval in English." Humanities has a pretty cool (hip, rad, dope, groovy, punk, hot, sweet) theory, tracing it as far back as Zora Neale Hurston's collection Mules and Men, and the time when "cool was black... cool was jazz." (Related reading: the most excellent Hepster's Dictionary (pdf) of 1939 jive talk, and our own history of the slang word "like.")