The Guardian has begun rolling out their series of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time. The first? Elizabeth Kolbert’s horrifying, no-holds-barred ecological treatise The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Our friends over at the Football Book Club took a look at The Sixth Extinction earlier this year, as well.
"Hamlet’s famous last words—'The rest is silence'—are less punning than ironic, since both his parting, eloquent gasps and his death play out amidst a growing bassline beat. 'What warlike noise is this?' Hamlet asks as the poison takes hold. The drums and commotion signal the arrival of the Norwegian crown prince Fortinbras, who bursts into the quiet of the massacred Danish court. From the beginning of Hamlet, we’re taught to think of sovereignty as a manipulation of sound waves." What does silence mean in this age of constant digital noise? The Literary Hub takes a look.
Wikipedia states that its ultimate mission is to collect all the knowledge in the world. The biases of its users may earn the site a few jabs, but if a number of studies which compare the site’s articles to those of professional encyclopedias are reliable indicators, its content is accurate enough to satisfy the needs of most users. But now the whole project may be in trouble for a simple and very odd reason -- it's apparently done so well that most of its contributors have gone home.
The true confessions of Lev Grossman, book reviewer: "There was a time when I actually believed, because I was an ass, that as a critic I was an avenging angel with a flaming sword, and that part of my job was to help rid the culture of books that were sucking up more of the literary oxygen than they deserved."
With the help of Our Final Hour author Martin Rees, Cambridge will soon open a Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. The Centre will investigate the threats posed by “artificial intelligence, climate change, nuclear war and rogue biotechnology.” To my ears, this sounds an awful lot like Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, which was memorably depicted in John Jeremiah Sullivan’s “Violence of the Lambs.”