Pandemic literature has been around for centuries, with one of the most popular being Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron. At Electric Literature, Elyse Martin examines how this collection of “medieval Italian sex stories” shows that storytelling is integral to our survival. “The rigid structure of the work—ten characters tell ten stories for ten days—seems at odds both with the chaotic setting of the plague and with the content of the tales,” Martin writes, “where characters tumble from fortune to misfortune to fortune again, with each spin of Fortune’s wheel. But this strict structure is intentional. Just as Boccaccio most likely wrote these tales as a way to understand and also escape the plague, so do his ten storytellers embrace this structure as an escape from the now ordinary chaos of their lives.”
David Carr takes a look at The Atavist, whose team of multimedia gurus has won the attention (and seed funding) of Google founder Eric Schmidt. Of course, the outfit’s also been receiving generous attention for their quality work, too. (I mentioned them a few months ago.) More recently, however, certain scientific circles have fawned over the subject of their story The Electric Mind, which tracks one paralyzed woman and the scientists who developed the BrainGate technology which eventually got her moving… robotically.
“You know, it’s dangerous to focus on one person as a way of talking about a big system. But I think Kissinger reveals the system. He’s not singularly responsible for the system—if we expunge Kissinger from history, we still wouldn’t have a Virtuous Republic—but he illuminates it like nobody else.” Greg Grandin discusses his recent release, Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman, at The New Republic.
Dutch researchers are using moistened electrode caps to measure the brain waves, heart rate, galvanic skin response and facial expressions on an author and fifty of his readers. They hope to find patterns “that may help illuminate links between the way art is created and enjoyed, and possibly the nature of creativity itself.”