The New Yorker has published the chapter of Salman Rushdie’s forthcoming memoir, Joseph Anton, that describes the circumstances of his life immediately after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s spiritual leader in 1989, called for his execution by proclaiming a fatwā on the writer, after the controversial treatment of Islamic history and the Prophet Muhammad in The Satanic Verses. PEN American, by the way, accepts donations online.
Somewhere along the way, the word “cool” became “the most popular slang term of approval in English.” Humanities has a pretty cool (hip, rad, dope, groovy, punk, hot, sweet) theory, tracing it as far back as Zora Neale Hurston’s collection Mules and Men, and the time when “cool was black… cool was jazz.” (Related reading: the most excellent Hepster’s Dictionary (pdf) of 1939 jive talk, and our own history of the slang word “like.”)
Kory Stamper, one of the lexicographers responsible for Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, describes the pleasures and poetry to be found in the Third Edition’s “color definitions.” Take vermillion for example, which is listed as “a variable color averaging a vivid reddish orange that is redder, darker, and slightly stronger than chrome orange, redder and darker than golden poppy, and redder and lighter than international orange.” (Related: how colors got their names; who names colors what.)
“I remembered Def Leppard for their one-armed drummer arrested for spousal abuse. Meanwhile Prince played, like, twenty different instruments while having sex in the backseat of taxicabs, ducking the Antichrist, and shouting for gun control. Also: girlfriend on drums. What’s fair is fair.” The Prince-related thinkpieces have mostly subsided by now, but this new piece by Dave Tompkins at The Paris Review will make you glad that people are continuing to write about him.