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.”
“Tsundoku: the acquiring of reading materials followed by letting them pile up and subsequently never reading them.” Do you buy books and let them languish? According to Ozy, there’s a Japanese word for that. Might we encourage your tsundoku habit by encouraging you to look at this list of our favorite October releases?
Do “algorithms and online recommendations threaten to replace [publishers] as arbiters of quality”? This Economist riff on e-book publishing says so. Elsewhere, at least 20 companies are using computer software instead of human beings to write their articles.
For everyone who likes typography and arguments, New York Magazine has a story up that covers the type designers Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones and follows the pair through their success to their ultimate rift. For those who prefer debates with more immediate impact, Mental Floss has a breakdown of the best shots fired in the fight over the Oxford Comma.
New this week: A Cure for Suicide by Jesse Ball; Lovers on All Saints’ Day by Juan Gabriel Vásquez; The Kindness by Polly Samson; a new book of correspondence between Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti; and Apollo in the Grass by the Russian poet Aleksandr Kushner. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
Paris Review editor Lorin Stein recommends a couple of self-help books to one reader in this week’s mail blog. “Let your self-help freak flag fly!” he writes. Such might put you in esteemed company. As Maria Bustillos pointed out in her poignant investigation for The Awl, David Foster Wallace treasured many self help books.