“Rather than showing one isolated capsule, the new hall would encompass nature and the human world…. The central theme would not be a certain animal, or even the landscape portrayed. Not one story but the fact that the stories are there. Albert E. Parr, strongly influenced by the burgeoning field of ecology, believed that the interconnectedness between disciplines was the story of the world.” Jaime Green writes for Longreads about the narratives behind the exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History. Also check out our own Bill Morris’s piece on the new Whitney Museum.
Did you major in social sciences or the humanities as an undergraduate? If so, it might’ve been because someone in your family had a mood disorder or a problem with substance abuse. A new survey published by Princeton University posits that “a family history of psychiatric conditions, such as autism and depression, could influence the subjects a person finds engaging.”
“Because I am a writer, people sometimes ask me how ebooks have changed the literary landscape. The short answer, for me, is that I have developed a compulsion to drunk-dial Agatha Christie several times a week.” Elif Batuman on buying (and reading) while intoxicated, at Guardian.
The gulf between Picador and every other publishing house continues to yawn in one major aspect: literary playlists. To honor the release of Dylan Jones’s Biographical Dictionary of Popular Music, Justin Hargett put together a list of his “Favorite Covered Songs!” (Previously: the “Marriage Playlist” for Jeffrey Eugenides)
In The New York Times, Dwight Garner reviews John Carey’s biography William Golding: The Man Who Wrote “Lord of the Flies”: “It may not be a surprise to learn that the British novelist … did not have a happy childhood. But the details will put a sweat on your forehead.”
n+1 provides a fascinating study of today’s divisive concept of cultural elitism: “Today, though, it’s the bearers of culture rather than the wielders of power who are taxed with elitism. If the term is applied to powerful people, this is strictly for cultural reasons, as the different reputations of the identically powerful Obama and Bush attest. No one would think to call a foul-mouthed four-star general an elitist, even though he commands an army, any more than the term would cover a private equity titan who hires Rod Stewart to serenade his 60th birthday party.”