“To me a book is not just a particular file. It’s connected with personhood. Books are really, really hard to write. They represent a kind of a summit of grappling with what one really has to say. And what I’m concerned with is when Silicon Valley looks at books, they often think of them as really differently as just data points that you can mush together. They’re divorcing books from their role in personhood.” Digital pioneer and theorist Jaron Lanier fears that the Internet might be destroying not just literature, but also the middle class.
On August 1st, 1914, Germany declared war on Russia. Also, Franz Kafka went swimming. Moreover, the Metamorphosis author mentioned both events in his diary, writing simply and strangely that “Germany has declared war on Russia — went swimming in the afternoon.” Was this odd phrasing intentional or a sign of the author’s self-absorption? In an article for Open Letters Monthly, Robert Minto reads all three volumes of Reiner Stach’s new biography.
You’ve likely heard that artists these days are in trouble. The probability that your average creative person will make a living from their art is getting smaller by the day. But amidst all this hand-wringing, we forget one simple fact — it’s always been getting worse, and there’s always been something killing culture. At Slate, Evan Kindley writes about Scott Timberg’s new book Culture Crash, asking whether the Internet is really the dread force it’s often made out to be.
Just released: the latest issue of DIAGRAM, which is consistently one of the most interesting magazines in publication. Coming soon: Hobart‘s 15th issue, which is focused on “Hotel Culture,” and will hit shelves in February/March. (Although you can preorder a copy now.)
The New Yorker has launched an online-only series dedicated to the novella, featuring longer works of fiction the magazine isn’t able to fit into print. “The novella is not, usually, an expanded story. Rather, it is a contracted novel, in which the omissions cover much ground. It is more ambitious than a story, denser and more gemlike than a novel.” Callan Wink’s In Hindsight launches the series, with an interview with the author.