In August of 1911, Franz Kafka and his future literary executor Max Brod paid a visit to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. It was, all told, a weird time to make such a trip, because a week before the two arrived in Paris, crafty thieves abducted the famous painting. So why did they go if there wasn’t a painting to see? To look at the absence, of course. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
Say you find yourself transported 6,000 years in the past – would you still be able to talk to your fellow English-speakers?
“The entire manuscript was written with the E-type bar of the typewriter tied down; thus making it impossible for that letter to be printed. This was done so that none of that vowel might slip in, accidentally; and many did try to do so!” Abe Books tells the tale of Gadsby, a self-published 50,000-word novel written without using the letter “e.” Its author, Ernest Vincent Wright, won some notoriety when he accomplished the feat – called a lipogram – in 1939, although it’s unlikely Wright could have foreseen that individual copies of his book would eventually fetch prices upward of $1,200. And if it’s literary hijinks you’re after, definitely read our own Anne Yoder on the work of Georges Perec, who wrote a lipogram of his own in 1969.
“[I]t’s important that people begin to understand that whiteness is not inevitable, and that white dominance is not inevitable.” Claudia Rankine talks to The Guardian about her plans for the Racial Imaginary Institute, a think-tank-cum-gallery that she’s founding with all that MacArthur Genius cash. See also: why Americans love poetry, but not poetry books.
“On the day I moved in, without giving it any thought, we started to refer to one storage space—there are three, two low-ceilinged ones on either side of the pitch-roofed room and one closet—as ‘the bad area.’ We had barely walked in, we (at least I) had forgotten the ghost, and here we were—‘the bad area.’” Amie Barrodale writes at The Paris Review Daily about life in a haunted apartment.