“America has always been able to countenance beggars, short-con men, and nine-to-fivers who just can’t get ahead, but we’ve never known what to do with the type of person who could have been really big but chose not to make the concessions required.” The Believer takes a look at the paradox of Nelson Algren.
“The way Vermeer painted this wall is consistent with a photograph. It is not consistent with human vision.” In a fascinating new documentary by Penn and Teller, a digital-graphics artist spent five years building a lens, a room, and a harpsichord to figure out how.
The good people over at The Rumpus have added another fantastic essay to their Albums of Our Lives series. This week, it’s Jonathan Kime who gives The Cure’s crushing, overwhelmingly melancholic 1989 album Disintegration the track-by-track treatment. Earlier iterations included Sufjan Stevens and Jason Isbell.
“If Gwendolyn Brooks wrote fiction, we’d say she was brilliant at world-building–but the world she builds is the real one, the part that didn’t used to make it into the pages of literary magazines.” On the continued relevance of Brooks’s poetry in the context of racial violence in Chicago. Pair with a piece on the power of reading poetry aloud.
“Jealousy baffles me. It’s so mysterious and it’s so pervasive. … And yet I’ve never read a study that can parse to me its loneliness, or its longevity, or its grim thrill. For that, we have to go to fiction because the novel is the lab that has studied jealousy in every possible configuration. In fact, I don’t know that it’s an exaggeration to say that if we didn’t have jealousy, we wouldn’t even have literature.” New York Times Book Review editor Parul Sehgal takes listeners to church in her TED Talk, “Ode to Envy.”