“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.
Over at Public Books, Jared Gardner explores the theme of pain and illness at the heart of many graphic narratives. As he explains it, “Illness, mental and physical, is arguably comics’ invisible master theme, deeply woven into their genome and shaping the stories they tell, from the earliest newspaper strips (chronic allergies in Winsor McCay’s Little Sammy Sneeze) through the rise of superhero comics (from Batman’s PTSD in 1939 through the Fantastic Four’s radiation poisoning in 1961).” Pair with Paul Morton’s Millions piece on the history of Marvel Comics.
It’s 2014, but we still don’t have self-driving cars despite Isaac Asimov’s predictions. In 1964, Asimov contemplated what the world would be like 50 years later. He was fairly accurate according to David Wogan at Scientific American. “Asimov got a lot right…about how technology keeps advancing at a rapid clip, freeing humans from mundane and routine tasks. It’s the Google-fication of everything.”
Eric Benson interviewed Bruce Jackson about “the strange and brutal world of Southern prison farms.” Jackson, who recently published a collection entitled Inside the Wire, snapped prison photographs in Texas and Arkansas from 1964 to 1979. The images depict both the mundane and the surreal, occasionally appearing as though they were “taken from a fever dream.”
Over at The New Yorker, Hilton Als writes about Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Prince, Cecil Taylor, Octavia Butler, and time travel. He writes, “Toward the end of the film, [Beyoncé] moves further back into the past and examines her roots, we see any number of sharply dressed women sitting in the natural world, talking among themselves. This will remind readers of that extraordinary scene in Beloved, when the elder commands those who have gathered in a clearing to love their hands, themselves—because if they don’t, who will?”