Two weeks ago, the Internet Gods (meaning: the Unicode 7.0 update) gave us hundreds of new emoji symbols, including the middle finger and peace dove. By now our emoji usage patterns can be used by psychologists to understand our minds. “People who use no noses tend to be tweeting more about… Justin Bieber. They have younger interests, younger concerns, whether or not they’re younger.”
Sick of getting corrected for tiny grammatical mistakes? Turns out you may not be a forgetful person after all. According to a cognitive psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, our brains have a tendency to fall into bad grammatical habits, even when we know the rules we’re trying to follow. In The Washington Post, Andrew Heisel investigates. You could also read Fiona Maazel on the specter of commercial grammar.
On the persistent popularity and flexibility of Cinderella, from old folktales featuring talking gourds all the way to the upcoming Disney version, from NPR.
Before his death of natural causes in 2008, Henry Gustave Molaison had the world’s most famous brain. At 27, Molaison permanently lost the ability to form new memories, which led to him spending the rest of his life in “thirty-second loops of awareness.” In the LRB, Mike Jay reviews a new book on Molaison, Permanent Present Tense.
“[C]ommunity building takes a lot of time and effort and can take a long time to pay off. It’s the long con that’s not a con.” In Electric Literature‘s “Blunt Instrument” column, Elisa Gabbert takes on the topic of writing with chronic illness and disability. See also: our own advice columnists Swarm and Spark!
Over at Words Without Borders, Marguerite Feitlowitz writes on teaching the art of literary translation. As she puts it, “Bringing texts from one place to another, from one tongue, context, history, and human body to another, is itself a political act. We can tell the history of the world through the history of when major texts have been translated—and where, why, and by whom.” Pair with this Millions piece on literary translators at work.
“Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings charts “the wide, weird world of geography” in his latest book Maphead. NPR investigates his process in a “Fresh Air” interview. Scribner Books provides a small sample as well. While discussing the particulars of America’s “Road Geeks,” Jennings makes it clear to this listener that he’d probably be interested in Cynthia Enloe and Joni Seager’s The Real State of America Atlas, which was reviewed by our own Bill Morris last July.
Much linked elsewhere, Triple Canopy has published the first complete English translation of the Roberto Bolano’s 1999 speech accepting the Romulo Gallegos Prize.Keith Gessen of n+1 and All the Sad Young Literary Men has started a blog. People who like to make grand pronouncements about such things and/or snark about them are all aflutter. (via)Onward in snark, Tao Lin describes the “Levels of Greatness” for the American novelist. Spoiler alert: Philip Roth wins again. (via)Robert McCrum chronicles his ten years as The Observer’s literary editor in ten chapters, from “Chapter 1: New Blood: Zadie Smith” to “Chapter 10: The Kindle.”