Over at Words Without Borders, Esther Allen considers how to translate a song. As she puts it, “A song that almost everyone in a given culture at a given moment knows is a unique cultural artifact, a crystallized collective experience, a profound trigger that sets off a complex string of shared emotions.” Pair with Magdalena Edwards’s Millions essay on songs as triggers.
“Do you know the philosopher Slavoj Žižek?” asks John Jeremiah Sullivan in his interview for the LA Review of Books. “He has this thing about love, the evil of love, and he says, I really don’t like love, because what love says is: I pick you out from everything, and I’m going to give you special attention, meaning that everything else is denigrated, and he says there’s something a little evil in that, and in the same way I think that there something a little philistine about lists.”
“Look, if you meet someone with one leg, are you going to sit and revile them for not having the other leg? No, you’re going to be happy that they have the one and praise them for it. And get them thinking about how can we substitute for the one that’s lacking. Which are you going to do?” Robert Thurman quoting the Dalai Lama on embracing the positive in an interview in Guernica, where Thurman speaks about nonviolent resistance, the potential for a demilitarized world, and his friendship with the Dalai Lama.
The story of how a publishing house began is the definition of literary inside baseball, but this piece by Jonathan Galassi — in which the FSG president responds to an upcoming book on the heyday of his company — does a pretty nice job of spurring a general reader’s interest. Among other things, it reveals that First Wife Dorothea Straus once called the company’s office “a sexual sewer.”
Wole Soyinka does not approve of the push for Chinua Achebe to be awarded a posthumous Nobel Prize for Literature, and he doesn’t appreciate fan letters asking for his support to that end. “How did creative valuation descend to such banality?” Soyinka remarks in an interview with SaharaReporters. “Do these people know what they’re doing – they are inscribing Chinua’s epitaph in the negative mode of thwarted expectations. I find that disgusting.”