“My daughter spent some of this summer performing a dance, which she learned at summer camp, to a certain song by Shakira, called “Waka Waka.” It was earnest, funny, beautiful dance; however, I am, it seems, unable to watch my daughter perform her Shakira dance, to a song I don’t very much care for, without sobbing. There is no explanation for this excessive reaction—the dance is homely and human and not at all out of this world—but that the reaction is about beauty, and joy, and potential, and not sorrow. And this, it seems, is one aspect of what crying celebrates: the sublime.” Here is Rick Moody, life coach, from The Literary Hub. Here’s a recent Millions interview with Moody.
In Florida, legislators are wondering whether or not they should raise tuition costs for students studying the humanities, or really anything other than STEM fields. Likewise, James Dyson (yes, the vacuum guy) bemoans Britain’s abundance of “students choosing to read humanities at university.” As a rejoinder, one New Statesman blogger notes that the study of humanities does not inhibit technological innovation, and that as a bonus, “we gain from having people who reshape our cultural landscape and put things in new contexts.”
Husband and wife writing duo Matthew Seal and Julie Bruton-Seal will launch their new book, Make Your Own Aphrodisiacs, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The couple, who live in Britain, (and who are by no means spring chickens), are encouraging people to look at natural ways of boosting their libido and to remove some of the myths and taboos surrounding aphrodisiacs.
What are college freshman reading? NPR shares a few selections from around the country. A recent study found that “The list of readings continues to be dominated by recent, trendy, and intellectually unchallenging books.” Our own Nick Ripatrazone writes about the difference between teaching high school and college students.
A U.S. Navy commodore’s 1823 General Order announcing the imminent seizure of Key West – at the time known as Allenton – has been obtained, along with “1,000 other pieces of the island’s history,” by the Monroe County Public Library. The collection also includes a book from 1858 written by William Curry, “a penniless Bahamian immigrant who became Florida’s first millionaire.” Best of all? You can view some of the cache online.
You may have read some of our pieces on graphic novels and comics. The form is increasingly seen as an indispensable genre of literature. At Slate, a team of judges select the nominees for their third annual Cartoonist Studio Prize, including Here by Richard McGuire and Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast.
This week saw the release of Vanishing Point, Vol. II: Songs of the Living and Dying. You may recall my earlier mention of the Vanishing Point project, which was recently borne out of Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. This time around, the publication boasts a redesigned appearance, and it features articles and essays about midwifery in Mali, the intersections between poetry and cinema, and a view of Walden Pond that you’ve never seen before — all presented with accompany visual material, and all produced by university students. This is outstanding stuff, and it’s well worth your time.
Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient won the Golden Man Booker Prize, the one-off award celebrating the best work of fiction from the last five decades of the prize. About the prize, Ondaatje said “I wish in fact that those of us on this Man Booker list had been invited to propose and speak about what we felt were the overlooked classics—in order to enlarge what ought to be read, as opposed to relying on the usual suspects.” Read the rest of his illuminating and gracious speech over at Literary Hub.