Peter Matthiessen died today, according to a statement released by his publisher: “Peter Matthiessen, award-winning author of more than thirty books, world-renowned naturalist, explorer, Buddhist teacher, and political activist, died at 5:15 PM on Saturday April 5, 2014 after an illness of some months.” Matthiessen was the author most notably of two National Book Award-winning volumes, the novel Shadow Country and in non-fiction The Snow Leopard.
“Soldiers eat beef teriyaki and chicken cavatelli M.R.E.s in a war zone where ‘armored ruins’ line the roads, ‘charred corpses scattered in among the blasted metal’; and sniper fire and I.E.D. ambushes are a constant threat: ‘the chaos out there, the crazy Arabic writing and abu-jabba jabber, the lawless traffic, the hidden danger and buzz and stray bullets and death looming from every overpass.'” Michiko Kakutani reviews Roy Scranton’s War Porn for The New York Times. Here’s an old review from The Millions that shares a bit of Scranton’s lingering sentiment regarding the war.
“When the corrective to women’s exclusion from history is to find a few suitable individuals to pluck out of the messy rush of life and achievement, and hold up for admiration, we forget that many of women’s most important historical achievements…have been the product of collaboration, community, and collective action.” For Slate, Joanna Scutts writes about recent spate of historical books about rebellious, misbehaved women, and who is left out of those stories. From our archives: a list of vile women in fiction.
Harvard and MIT are partnering for an MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) known as edX. Currently, similar offerings are available from Stanford, Princeton, UPenn, and the University of Michigan. Unfortunately edX and others like it will grade student papers by utilizing “crowd-sourcing” and “natural-language software.” Oh, geeze. Not that again.
The new book by Alain de Botton, How to Think More About Sex, addresses exactly what you’d think it would based on a glance at its title. According to de Botton, the word “sexy,” at base, refers to people or things which mimic our deeply-held values. At Brain Pickings, you can read more excerpts.
“All I know was that in Paris I felt haunted, like a double exposure photograph that shows a figure and then a milky specter behind. I felt stalked by a creature of my own making, a monster that was both my mother and myself.” Darcey Steinke writes about Paris, loss, and monsters in an essay for Granta.