“While I’m glad we’ve had this chance to talk, because of time constraints I cannot answer these basic questions about race and how racism works.” Colson Whitehead considers new business cards. See our review of his Pulitzer-winning The Underground Railroad here.
The deadline for DIAGRAM’s annual essay contest is fast approaching. Past winners include Peter Jay Shippy’s “Goonies: or Wallace Stevens’s ‘The Snowman’–an Essay in 7 Films” and (my all-time favorite) Cheyenne Nimes’s “SECTION 404 OF THE CLEAN WATER ACT AND THE SANTA CRUZ RIVER SAND SHARK, SUBTITLED ‘THIS TROUBLESOME REGULATORY CONSTRAINT’.”
“We might then see the bear, and judge it best to run, receive the insult and deem it right to strike, but we could not actually feel afraid or angry.” Let’s hope you never get approached by a bear while hiking in the woods with trailblazing psychologist William James, who had some complicated ideas about feelings.
Recommended Reading: This piece on a digital afterlife — duplicating oneself via computer program — which is by turns troubling and oddly reassuring: “The human brain has about a hundred billion neurons. The connectional complexity is staggering. By some estimates, the human brain compares to the entire content of the internet. It’s only a matter of time, however, and not very much at that, before computer scientists can simulate a hundred billion neurons.”
“You might say we are awash in definitions of the essay and essays themselves, or to mis-paraphrase Wallace Stevens, ideas about the thing as well as the thing itself.” On The Making of the American Essay, the third and final volume of John D’Agata’s A New History of the Essay.
This weekend–at 2:30 am on Saturday, to be precise–Twitter bot @everyword was set to complete its 7-year run with the final word in the English language: “zymurgy.” Unexpectedly, the bot tweeted again half an hour later–with a nontraditional character it had surreptitiously glossed on the first run: éclair. Since @everyword, like Lazarus, probably won’t get the same fuss after its second death, check out The Guardian’s interview with creator Adam Parrish now.