For whatever reason, pop music (at least in the Western world) displays an inordinate fascination with people who die at a young age. At The Atlantic, Leah Sottile takes a look at our collective fixation on the mantra “Live fast, die young.”
Symmetry’s addictive. Beethoven sought it in the order of chords, Einstein in the logic of theory. Countless writers, too, have sought its imprint in the perfect mot juste. In Aeon Magazine, Philip Ball pleads fervently against the pursuit of beauty in logic, and logic in beauty. “There’s a reason why our galleries are not, on the whole, filled with paintings of perfect spheres… the search for an ideal, perfect Platonic form of the table amid spirals, hypercubes and pyramids has an air of desperation.”
In a By Heart piece for The Atlantic, Harriet Lane writes about the “bleak precise nature” of Philip Larkin‘s poetry (what Stephen Akey called “The Poetry of Mental Unhealth” in a Millions review) and about the power inherent in writing fiction. “In my everyday life I have no control, really: who does? But on paper, I hold all the cards. Fiction provides you with a way to shape a world, to exert the kind of power and agency our real lives so often lack.”
To be or not to be, that is the question about British politician Boris Johnson’s long-awaited biography of Shakespeare, Shakespeare: The Riddle of Genius. Initially slated for release this October, publisher Hodder & Stoughton has just announced that — amid reports of last-minute, desperate pleas for help from prominent Shakespeare scholars — the book has been put on ice indefinitely.
“Romatic realist” painter Bo Bartlett, born in Columbus, Georgia, is renowned for his epic tableaus depicting a “Hopper-like sense of longing and mystery combined with a Lynchian-cocktail of menace, beauty, and stranger-than-fiction reality.” He was also a protégé and life-long friend of Andrew Wyeth. In Oxford American‘s most recent SoLost installment, the crew checks out Bartlett’s surprising and endearing winter workspace.