May 1, 2014 / From the Editor, Uncategorized
Each Friday we compile a list of interesting links and articles our editors find from …
February 27, 2015
Each Friday we compile a list of interesting links and articles our editors find from across the web. Here’s what’s catching our eye this week.
What responsibility does the artist have to society? Speaking at Amherst College in 1963, John F. Kennedy gave one answer to that perpetually nagging question. For a politician it was a highly unusual one, though perhaps less so then than now. “Society must set the artist free,” Kennedy declared, “to follow his vision wherever it takes him.” This is essentially the same view of artistic and personal freedom that Stephen Dedalus defends against the nationalist Davin in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. “When the soul of a man is born,” Stephen opines, “there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.” It is essentially Rousseauist, corresponding to the liberal idea that individuals best serve the general good through the exercise of their personal freedom. For all its nobility of spirit, this view is frequently contested—even, or maybe especially, in democratic societies. Davin responds to Dedalus as many a politician has responded to the artist or intellectual, by demanding commitment: “A man’s country comes first…You can be a poet or a mystic after.” He finds Stephen to be “a terrible man,” even a bit of a traitor, for insisting so unequivocally on his personal liberty. It is Stephen’s peculiar separateness, his disregard of party or faction, that Davin finds threatening.
And the role of “classics” in literature:
It’s easy to spot a New York Review Books Classics title. Each of the house’s covers is designed with handsome uniformity: they all feature a book plate emblazoned over a painting or photo and the spines, when lined up, form a pleasing palette of bold colors—an aesthetic that reflects both the identity and diversity of the series.
Maybe it’s too dangerous. The case against “court storming” in basketball:
Six years ago, for a story for The Sporting News, I sat among the Orange Krush, the student cheering section for the Illinois basketball team, for an important Big Ten game against Purdue. I was excited about this for several reasons — getting to pretend I was young and foolish again, having terrific seats for a CBS game just a few feet away from Verne Lundquist, booing the living bejesus out of Purdue’s Chris Kramer — but the main reason I wanted to do it was because it meant I might get to storm the court.
Grantland names the most important current rappers:
If 2014 was about a new collection of young insurgents rising, from ILoveMakonnen to Iggy Azalea, then 2015 appears to be a year for solidifying superstars, from Kanye West’s fashion-forward return, to Kendrick Lamar’s impassioned sophomore album, to Drake’s sneak-attack mixtape release, to Nicki Minaj’s unceasing assault. To determine who’s really on top — creatively, commercially, spiritually — Grantland gathered a collection of writers to make their case for the genre’s true leader, the artist by whom even the leading lights are dimmed. With (minimal) apologies to Iggy, Big Sean, and Macklemore, here are the facts as we see them.
The powerful “blood relics” from Abraham Lincoln’s assassination:
Every April 14, on the hour of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the place where it happened is one of the loneliest historical sites in America. I should know. I’ve been making disappointing anniversary pilgrimages to the scene for more than a quarter of a century. My first was in 1987, during my first spring in Washington, D.C., when my future wife and I were serving in the Reagan administration. After work, we walked to the then-seedy neighborhood surrounding Ford’s Theatre and discovered Geraldine’s House of Beef, a restaurant whose only attraction was a table near the front window that offered a clear view of Ford’s facade on Tenth Street NW. We decided to have dinner while we waited to see what would happen. Of course, we thought, a crowd would arrive soon to honor the most beloved president in American history. No doubt the National Park Service, which has administered Ford’s since 1933, would hold a solemn ceremony.
Unpacking the two Mad Men trailers and sideburns:
Two trailers for Part 2 of Mad Men’s seventh and final season dropped in the past week. One, titled “The Party’s Over,” premiered online, and its music cue created the biggest fan debate in Mad Men circles since the whole “Will Megan get murdered?” thing (spoiler alert: NO!). The spot is soundtracked with Diana Ross’s “Love Hangover,” the song that marked Miss Ross’s transition from ’60s soul chanteuse to ’70s disco diva. “Love Hangover” is emblematic of the louche, sleazy ’70s, when peace and love turned into “sex and drugs” after the idealistic sociopolitical mission of the earlier decade was deemed an abject failure. There’s just one problem: The song came out in 1976. Does that mean Mad Men is doing a time jump to 1976? Or was “Love Hangover” chosen because it’s just so very ’70s? One thing is certain: It instantly transports you to that decade and the accompanying mind-set, while also doubling as a statement on the end of the prior one. The first part of Season 7 was an end-of-the-’60s cliffhanger. Every single character on Mad Men is headed for a lengthy emotional (and literal) hangover after the Summer of Love years.
The mystery in Monroeville, Harper Lee’s hometown, and how her second novel came to be published:
Maycomb may have been hot enough to wilt men’s collars before nine, but Monroeville in February has a chill. The tiny Alabama town where Harper Lee was born was shocked earlier this month by the announcement that, fifty-five years after she published “To Kill a Mockingbird,” she would finally publish a sequel, “Go Set a Watchman,” although it will be a sequel by release date only, since Lee actually wrote “Watchman” first.
I’ve been waiting for a long time to tell you about this. Here is my next book, How Dante Can Save Your Life, which will be published on April 14. Pre-order it from Amazon.com here. I’m excited by the cover design. The image on the right is what’s under the paper sleeve. It’s a facsimile of a 1596 edition of the Commedia, published in Venice. It is a beautiful image — both are, really. The reverse side, which you can’t see here, is too. The cover design, by Richard Ljoenes, is truly a work of art, and I’m grateful to my publisher, ReganArts, for this extraordinary gift.
Major League Baseball and the pitch clock:
Last weekend, here in Athens, Georgia, I went to my first baseball game of 2015. I know it’s one degree Fahrenheit everywhere right now, but I swear, there was an actual game outside, under the sun, with players and everything — Georgia-Eastern Illinois, the college baseball season opener at a remodeled Foley Field, a five-minute walk from my house. We’re all looking to Florida and Arizona for some sign that baseball is returning so that we can stop staring out the window — but if you live in an area of the country without snow, there’s very likely some baseball going on near you this very evening. It’s not just close: It’s happening.
Russell Brand discusses the dangers of pornagraphy:
David A. Garner