In a time of crisis, any decision is better than no decision at all. That line–credited to Theodore Roosevelt–is pop conventional wisdom. An excellent piece at Aeon explores the full implications of the line, and may just convince you that your next impossible choice should be made by a soothsayer, a lottery, or a flipped coin.
"The physical purpose of reproduction is, obviously, the continuation and renewal of genetic continuity, human survival. Its psychological purpose seems to me to be a particularly poignant kind of mutual learning and, matters being equal, ineffable comfort." What is the relationship between being an artist and being a parent? Maria Popova at Brain Pickings takes a look at sculptor Anne Truitt's collected journals, Daybook, to try and suss out an answer.
"It’s the marriage of one kind of darkness to another... the black storm cloud of Neel’s pen is well suited to Dostoyevsky’s questions of God, reason, and doubt." On Alice Neel's illustrations for The Brothers Karamazov, from The Paris Review. Pair with our own Kevin Hartnett's much lighter take on the novel, "Reading The Brothers Karamazov: Even a Toddler Knows a Funny Name When He Hears One."
Out this week: The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman; The Kills by Richard House; When the World Was Young by Elizabeth Gaffney; Secrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore; The Scatter Here is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer; Ride Around Shining by Chris Leslie-Hynan; Painted Horses by Malcolm Brooks; The Liar’s Wife by Mary Gordon; The Dog by Jack Livings; Bluff City Pawn by Stephen Schottenfeld; Beneath the Neon Egg by Thomas E. Kennedy; 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino; and Bad Feminist by Year in Reading alum Roxane Gay, who also came out with a novel a few months ago.
At N+1, Marco Roth autopsies "the neuronovel" - think Motherless Brooklyn (Tourette's), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (autism), Lowboy (paranoid schizophrenia), The Echo Maker (Capgras syndrome), and Atmospheric Disturbances (Capgras again?) - and finds "sign[s] of the novel's diminishing purview."
John Clare, “the peasant poet,” wrote wide-ranging poems on rural themes, distinguishing himself from his peers in the 19th-century literary scene in England. In 1830, in the midst of an episode of depression, he wrote a long polemic against the first-person pronoun, in the form of a letter to his friend Eliza Emmerson. In The Paris Review Daily, an excerpt of the letter.
"There is a term in the legal world for such instructions — dead hand control — and, although compliance has varied and enforceability is debatable, they have been attempted by artists from Franz Kafka to a Beastie Boy." The New York Times explores the potential impact of Edward Albee's will on his work, including his instruction that any manuscripts incomplete at the time of his death be destroyed. Pairs perfectly with Aaron Hamburger's recollection of staying at the famous playwright's place out in Long Island for an artists' residency.