Articles lamenting the supposed death of reading tend to include a gripe that we now spend too much time on the Internet. However, as those of you who read a lot of books and live partially on the Internet are aware, the two activities aren’t mutually exclusive. NPR’s Morning Edition has a new story (which includes our own Janet Potter discussing her rewriting of classic novel titles as click-bait headlines) about the intersection between the lit world and the meme world.
Year in Reading alumnus Jonathan Safran Foer and Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman have been exchanging emails for over a decade. Over at The New York Times Magazine, they share their recent correspondence on how things have changed since the beginning of their friendship.
“I began to wonder: what would a manifesto for bad poetry look like? Would it differ either superficially or deeply from the art’s graver manifestos? It really wouldn’t have to. It would merely have to persuade, and persuasion sounds very much the same whether it is honest or dishonest. If it was any good it would hold great attractiveness as a snappy piece of writing, but, if followed, it would be certain to produce bad poetry. Some harmless sophistry. In this it would be more effective than any positive manifesto, because, if guided well, no-one who sets out to write a bad poem is going to accidentally write an excellent one.” Erik Kennedy lays out a manifesto for bad poetry, titled “Precepts for Perfection in Poetry,” for The Rumpus. For a counterpoint, pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s look at very good and very sad poetry, “The Saddest Poem Ever Written.”
“Post-truth” has been named word of the year by the Oxford Dictionaries, reports The Guardian. Considered an adjective, its definition is “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” The Dictionaries report its first use in 1992 by the late Serbian-American playwright Steve Tesich in relation to Iran-Contra and the first Gulf War. And we thought Colbert’s “truthiness” was funny.
Recommended Reading: Robert Macfarlane at The Guardian on what it means to be living in the Anthropocene age–in which human influence on the planet is permanent and profound–and how our writers and artists are responding to the crisis.