Speaking of France: whether or not you find him disagreeable, Michel Houellebecq is pretty much guaranteed to elicit an emotional response from readers. His new opinion piece in The New York Times is no different. Here’s a review of Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory that refers to him as a “petty misanthrope.”
Writing in the London Review of Books (Reg. Req.), Evgeny Morozov clued me onto how “scientists at UCLA – with funding from the Chinese government – have built an ‘image to text’ system that automatically produces text summaries of what is taking place in captured video.” A similar technology was also developed by NYU student Matt Richardson, whose “descriptive camera” can “automatically describe the scene in a camera’s viewfinder, which, when the image was uploaded, would make it easier to find.” Meanwhile one Twitter is describing typical Instagram shots in 140 characters or fewer.
Our own Emily St. John Mandel is in conversation with Laura van den Berg over at the FSG blog. “We have such a mania for classification, don’t we? Everything just seems so black-or-white, one-or-zero, genre-or-literary sometimes, and I don’t think those divisions are especially helpful.” The authors are Year in Reading alumni, and you can check out Mandel’s and van den Berg’s posts at the respective links.
“It is not normal for the President of the United States to refuse to offer even passing respect to the idea that telling the truth matters. It is not normal for the President to pretend that any news coverage he dislikes is ‘fake news’ that has been fabricated by the reporters who made up the story as well as their sources.”Because this is where we are, PEN America has issued Trump the Truth, a report on free expression during the President’s first 100 days. And in case you missed it, you must read our own Adam Boretz‘s review of Mark Lamont Hill‘s Nobody.
“What we call them is entirely irrelevant: emigrants, migrants, refugees, exiles—we all know to whom we refer. Refugeedom is our common cultural meme. It is the story with which Christian civilization begins. We bear the imprint of the furious index finger God used to banish Adam and Eve from Eden.” Dubravka Ugrešić writes about displacement and the refugee crisis for the Literary Hub. Pair with Arnon Grunberg’s Millions essay on Ugrešić’s legacy.