A lot has already been said about Nicolas Winding Refn’s newest and arguably most provocative film, Neon Demon. At The Rumpus, Jeffery Edalatpour examines beauty and its extremes, and also asks a couple questions of the director, himself: “Refn has revised the mythology of Aphrodite; she dons as much armor as Athena, enjoying nothing but the hunt. When I asked the director if he could cite any visual influences, his flat affect implied disdain for my simplistic question: ‘I just photograph what I find interesting. I believe that women are more powerful and more interesting than men. It’s just very much what I like to fantasize about.’ Fair enough.”
“Life is worth less than a line of Baudelaire’s poetry.” These two lyric essays by Chen Li over at Asymptote Journal are economical and well-worth the read. Though Chen Li is from Taiwan, he writes in Chinese; this syllabus of Chinese writing and the “New China” from Casey Walker at The Millions pairs quite nicely.
Much fuss was made about Barack Obama’s ex-girlfriends this week, as an excerpt from David Maraniss’ forthcoming Barack Obama: The Story was published in Vanity Fair. Of course, we sophisticated book readers care less about the man’s old flames than we do his literary pursuits, right? That’s why Mr. President’s analysis of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland” is so interesting.
Over at Brooklyn Magazine, Molly McArdle writes on J.K. Rowling’s ever-expanding universe. As she puts it, “New canonical information flows from: Pottermore, the fictional universe’s official website; Rowling’s Twitter account; interviews; a forthcoming movie trilogy; and now two plays, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, produced in tandem in London with scripts available for sale in a single volume worldwide. This is Harry Potter’s long, strange afterlife. Or maybe it’s more like an undeath.” Pair with Janet Manley’s Millions essay on The Cursed Child and British humiliation.