“We might then see the bear, and judge it best to run, receive the insult and deem it right to strike, but we could not actually feel afraid or angry.” Let’s hope you never get approached by a bear while hiking in the woods with trailblazing psychologist William James, who had some complicated ideas about feelings.
Haruo Shirane writes for Public Books about writing and publishing in the age of English. As he explains it, “For those living in the Anglosphere, no barrier seems to stand between their world and the many other worlds that now appear at the push of a button. But for those outside that world, particularly in non-European countries, the literary and linguistic consequences of globalization in the age of English can often be severe.”
What would happen if you had a clock to countdown the exact number of days until you died? Our own Mark O’Connell discovers the paranoia of having the Days of Life app measure his mortality at The New Yorker. “Days of Life functions like a reductio ad absurdum of the logic of personal productivity. The pie chart becomes a special way of being afraid: an image of the self as a micro-economy of numbered days.” For a more uplifting version of O’Connell, check out his 2013 Year in Reading post.
Umberto Eco, Italian semiotician and author of works such as Theory of Semiotics and The Name of the Rose, has died at 84. His most famous work, The Name of the Rose, was adapted in a film starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater. Reflect on his life by revisiting Hillary Kelly’s review of Confessions of a Young Novelist.