What does it mean to be cool? According to scholar Joel Dinerstein, it means a person who conveys “relaxed intensity.” Using this definition, Dinerstein and Frank Goodyear III curated a photography exhibition of “American Cool” at National Portrait Gallery. The portraits feature everyone from Joan Didion to David Byrne.
Members of the Word Reference forum contemplate the etymology and meaning of the “A” in the expression, “Fuckin’ A.” Elsewhere Geoffrey Nunberg, linguist and author of Assholism: The First Sixty Years, shares his take on the ubiquitous “a-word,” which he believes originated during World War II.
Discovery of the Week: Fairy tales are older than previously thought. Researchers have traced stories back to prehistoric and bronze age times. For example, Beauty and the Beast and Rumplestiltskin “can be securely traced back to the emergence of the major western Indo-European subfamilies as distinct lineages between 2,500 and 6,000 years ago.” Kirsty Logan writes about the problem with fairy tales.
“In publishing, we see this play out in a number of ways. Marginalized writers are told by white editors, we need your stories now more than ever, as if we have not always needed them urgently. We are told our experiences are timely, exotic, and trendy. We are told our stories are not authentic if our characters do not suffer, as if the only way to prove that we are human is to bleed.” Natalia Sylvester on the erasure that comes when marginalized writers are constantly being told by the publishing industry and others that your book about your marginalized identity is ‘timely’.
Think back to your time as a 14-year-old. What were you doing with your time? Were you beating Norman Mailer in a national essay contest? A Guide for the Perplexed author Dara Horn was.
Writer’s block: the eternal struggle, right? Thankfully, Ted Scheinman asked some of his favorite writers for their remedies, and he compiled them into a helpful list. “Do try these solutions, alone or in combination,” he urges. “’Mix and match’ is the cry.” (Related: You can also check out the “daily routines of famous creative people” for inspiration, as well.)