“If you’re doing an assignment for some Luddite professor who insists on originality – and probably uses typewriter ribbon – keep in mind that I only offer phrases from hard-to-trace sources. Just today I was slipped some primo stuff from an English teacher in Simonton, Iowa who’s been advising the high school literary magazine for decades. This woman, her voice is as smooth as creamed corn.” Confessions of a metaphor merchant.
Over at McSweeney’s, Sarah Solomon has undertaken the Sisyphean task of bringing existentialism into the twenty-first century. In a series of brief vignettes, Solomon gives the oft-maligned Millennial generation the existentialist makeover they never asked for. Continue your study of the absolute indifference of the universe with this essay by Zach Pontz on The Meursault Investigation, a new novel by Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud that imagines Albert Camus’s famous The Stranger from the perspective of the unnamed Arab antagonists.
Last week, I pointed to former Millions-er Emily M. Keeler’s review of Wolf in White Van, the new novel by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. Now, at Slate, Carl Wilson offers his own praise of the book, which he describes as “not the kind of rallying cry or dark comfort that Mountain Goats fans are used to, but a complex meditation.”
George Bernard Shaw had a strange relationship with Nietzsche. Alternately envious and dismissive of the German philosopher, Shaw once said he wanted to be an intellectual in Nietzsche’s mold, though he also felt Nietzsche’s thinking was addled and self-absorbed. In an essay for The New Statesman, Michael Holroyd tries to make sense of Shaw’s views.
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.
W.H. Auden lived a secret life, not as a man with a second family or an illicit habit but as, weirdly enough, a genuinely kind human being. He paid for a friend’s costly operation and camped outside the apartment of a woman who suffered from night terrors until she felt safe enough to sleep on her own again. So why did the poet want to hide his good deeds? He claimed he didn’t want to be admired for basic decency.
If last year’s The Marriage Plot was too brief a taste of semiotics for you, here’s an interesting essay on Jacques Derrida, “the Samson to tear down the temple of structuralism,” and his seminal 1966 American presentation on “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of Human Sciences.”