David Orr writes for The New York Times about Christopher Gilbert’s new collection of poems, Turning Into Dwelling, and the importance of innovation in poetry. As he puts it, “One of the hidden strengths of art is that there is always the possibility that what had seemed like a final breath may simply be the long pause before a new inhalation.” Pair with Andrew Kay’s Millions essay on the power of poetry.
Reading War and Peace was always a challenge, but how much harder is it in an age of constant distraction? At Salon, Mike Harris, a self-confessed distraction addict, writes about his experience tackling the Russian classic. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on the book’s effect on perception.
Google ran into a wall of litigation when it tried to create a public digital archive of every book in the world. Now a team of academics is taking on the challenge. Nicholas Carr examines whether Robert Darton and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society can succeed where Silicon Valley failed. Also be sure to check out our review of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.
“An artist you love occupies a weird in-between place, where they’re somehow a little more than a father, but a little less than a neighbour. They can permanently re-organize your consciousness but they can’t sell you a Coke. You feel you know them more than anyone you actually know, which means that you don’t really know a damn thing. I feel I know Elliott Smith, but if I picture him in front of me, I find myself picturing a tiny figurine, or Mount Rushmore.” Sasha Chapin has written an intensely personal essay about Elliott Smith for Hazlitt. Here is The Millions’ own Torch Ballads & Jukebox Music column to satisfy any lingering musical urges.
Here’s a novel idea: using literature to map out the emotions of a time period. (1940s? Sad. 1920s? Happy. 2010s? …Don’t ask.)
You may not have known that Thomas Jefferson – author of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. President, founder of the University of Virginia – also found time to amass the largest contemporary collection of books in North America. For sixteen years, The Library of Congress has been trying to track down copies of the final 250 listed in Jefferson’s collection.