Hypocrisy is a funny thing. In theory, we all dislike it, seeing an ability to live by one’s own morals as a virtue in itself, but the fact that everybody breaks their own rules from time to time means that our aversion to hypocrisy is a little bit… hypocritical. On the Harper’s blog, Clancy Martin dissects the meaning of the fact that “we’re all hypocrites.”
“If [Langston] Hughes and Cullen were competitors, of sorts, for the prize of principal African American poet of their generation, Cullen may have had an early lead, and during the later 1920s and early 1930s they were often discussed in tandem.” At The Boston Review, Major Jackson takes a look at the career and legacy of Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen.
“Did you know that alcohol originally meant eyeshadow, clouds were rocks or that a moment once lasted precisely 90 seconds?” From The Guardian, 10 words that no longer mean what they used to. And if you enjoy that trip down etymology lane, you’ll probably also dig this week’s piece about the curse words of Charles Dickens.
“Literature is the record we have of the conversation between those of us now alive on earth and everyone who’s come before and will come after, the cumulative repository of humanity’s knowledge, wonder, curiosity, passion, rage, grief and delight. It’s as useless as a spun-sugar snowflake and as practical as a Swiss Army knife.” Dana Stevens and Adam Kirsch discuss whether literature should be considered useful.
In a longform piece for The Atlantic Diane Saverin writes about Annie Dillard‘s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, the predominantly male tradition of wilderness-writing, and how Dillard found and wrote about the wild while living in suburbia. She also wrestles with the question: “if the author conveys a resonant truth, does it matter what experiences led to the realizations?”