Anna Sun profiles the work of Mo Yan, the latest winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. While Sun acknowledges Yan’s popularity and prolific output, she also notes that what the Nobel committee referred to as “hallucinatory prose” is more often than not “repetitive, predictable, coarse, and mostly devoid of aesthetic value.” Indeed, Sun writes, “the English translations of Mo Yan’s novels … are in fact superior to the original.” [Ed. Note: It appears the Kenyon Review link was briefly not working; this Google cache may work better — h/t Dan Farrely]
“The notebook is where our interior world makes contact with our exterior world; where our instinct for creation is first made material. Our notebooks are our first messy attempts at self-expression, and the ways in which we express ourselves are changing every day.” Sarah Gerard explores the life of the notebook in an essay for Hazlitt. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen‘s look at other methods writers use to keep their ideas straight, from calendars to collages.
The true story of the Whaleship Essex – which was deftly recounted in Nathaniel Philbrick’s 2000 book In the Heart of the Sea – will soon be adapted into a 90-minute documentary for the BBC. As avid whale watchers already know, the plight of the Essex is what ultimately inspired Herman Melville to write Moby-Dick. You can get an overview of the disaster at Melville House’s blog, Moby Lives. (How appropriate!)
Google is set to release a set of computerized glasses later this year. The glasses will come equipped with a camera that captures what you see, a projector that reflects data onto a screen between the lenses and your eyes, and a sensor that tracks the movement of your eyes which will in be the method for navigating the device. Basically, we’re all about to become Steve Mann, though according to the Toronto Star the world’s first cyborg has yet to offer any comment.
Sometime Ph.D candidate, sometime actor, and ubiquitous lit blog all-star James Franco (henceforth known as “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”) has begun filming an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God in West Virginia, and I’m reminded of that line from W. B. Yeats’ “The Second Coming” — “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”