“‘There is almost no work, within the vast range of literature and science,’ [Thomas Jefferson] wrote in an 1874 report, ‘which may not at some time prove useful to the legislature of a great nation.’ Thus the Library Of Congress’s mandate expanded: it would acquire anything and everything of importance … By the late 19th century, the LOC had become a kind of national brain trust, a heritage of information that aspired to timelessness.” This piece on the Library of Congress and its internet progress (or lack thereof) is fascinating and thorough. Go and spend some time with the digital archive, there are only around seven million gigabytes of information for you to thumb through.
The CIA might just be America’s most literary government agency, no? Not only did they (maybe) help fund the early days of The Paris Review but, according to Eric Bennett, the group also funded the nation’s most prestigious and storied creative writing program. Over on Iowa Public Radio, you can hear some details.
Recommended Reading/Listening: Maia Evrona’s translation and recitation of a poem by Abraham Sutzkever, who has been called one of the primary poets of the Holocaust. Gabriel Brownstein’s essay for The Millions on what it means to be a “Jewish writer” is a good complementary piece.
“Soldiers eat beef teriyaki and chicken cavatelli M.R.E.s in a war zone where ‘armored ruins’ line the roads, ‘charred corpses scattered in among the blasted metal’; and sniper fire and I.E.D. ambushes are a constant threat: ‘the chaos out there, the crazy Arabic writing and abu-jabba jabber, the lawless traffic, the hidden danger and buzz and stray bullets and death looming from every overpass.'” Michiko Kakutani reviews Roy Scranton’s War Porn for The New York Times. Here’s an old review from The Millions that shares a bit of Scranton’s lingering sentiment regarding the war.
In their latest Trend Watch, Merriam-Webster announced they’ve been seeing more searches for “Kafkaesque,” a spike they attribute to British publishers writing about Booker winner Han Kang. Since the word is so overused, it’s worthwhile to ask: just what does it actually mean now, anyway? Allison Flood tries to pin it down at The Guardian.