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Jean-Luc Godard: still brooding on the end of cinema


J. Hoberman at The Nation: What to make of the Godardian mind? You might say that, as prolific as he is, Godard suffers from the attention-deficit disorder of genius, a condition Bob Dylan evoked repeatedly in his mid-’60s work, as when he wailed, “I need a dump truck, baby, to unload my head.” There are more ideas about more things in any five minutes of Godard’s latest opus, Goodbye to Language, than in the year’s five next most intelligent movies combined.

virgil thomson: writing about music


Jeff Tompkins at The Brooklyn Rail: The first pages of the Library of America’s new collection make it clear that when Virgil Thomson was named head music critic of the New York Herald Tribune in the fall of 1940, he came in spoiling for a fight.

Why the Dismal Science Needs a Richer Moral Anthropology


Christina McRorie at Hedgehog Review: It’s tempting to conclude that Piketty understands and delivers what the public wants from economics: a return to classical political economy.

Ending the Creditor’s Paradise


Mark Blyth in Jacobin: As I sat in my office at Brown University on December 16, 2014, an email popped into my inbox with the title “Herzlichen Glückwunsch – Sie sind der 1.

TEDxRamallah - Alice Walker آليس ووكر - How I Learned to Grow a Global Heart

  More here. (Note: One post throughout February will be dedicated to Black History Month.)

Friday Poem

Unfinished Book . The Achaeans have been pinned against their hollow ships all winter. Not because this is how the epic unfolds, but because this is where I left off, tired of the clashing of swords, the clamor of armor, the spilling of black blood, tired of the myriad of forgettable Greek names and their fathers’ places of birth.

Displaced Personhood: A Pakistani-British writer chronicles his odyssey through the war on terror


Jake Lamar in Bookforum: One could say, with no snark intended, that back in the year 2000, twenty-nine-year-old Mohsin Hamid was the ultimate bourgeois bohemian.

Why companies are rewarding shareholders instead of investing in the real economy


Lydia DePillis in The Washington Post's Wonkblog (via Doug Henwood) (image Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images): In the past several years, profits have been increasingly paid back out to shareholders, rather than invested in hiring more people and paying them better.

French hip-hop


Jesse McCarthy in The Point: In 1988 no one in France took the hip-hop movement seriously. It was the rec-room era.

Parasitic Wasps Infected with Mind-Controlling Viruses


Carl Zimmer in his excellent blog, The Loom: In November, National Geographic put a ladybug and a wasp on its cover.

Cold Remains in Greenland


Edward Rackley in Warscapes: Urban development in the High Arctic can be a drab affair. Buildings are inelegant steel boxes fit for lunar colonies, clustered against withering winds and inhumanly low temperatures—"post-industrial morgue" might be the cynic’s take.

john aubrey and the art of literary biography


Stuart Kelly at the Times Literary Supplement: It is a curious phenomenon that while fictional narratives of lives have constantly, even aggressively, sought new forms in which the idea of how lived life might be conveyed and understood in prose, literary biography has been stuck, for the most part, with Maria in The Sound Of Music: “Let’s start at the very beginning / A very good place to start”.

The man behind Willie Nelson


Joe Nick Patoski at The Oxford American: Paul English was talking about breaking someone’s legs, cheerily using the threat as a means to get to the punch line of a story.

A newly discovered trove of unknown fairy tales


Michael Dirda at The Washington Post: In 2012, in the municipal archive of Regensburg, Germany, scholar Erika Eichenseer discovered 30 boxes containing more than 500 hitherto unknown fairy tales.

Thursday poem

Doors and Windows From our fears our courages are born, and in our doubts our certainties live. The dreams announce another possible reality, and the deliriums another reason.

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise

  More here. (Note: One post throughout February will be dedicated to Black History Month.)

A history of the world in funny puns


From The Telegraph: For many of us, it's a punderful life (pun: a joke exploiting the different   possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words which sound   alike but have different meanings) and to mark the UK Pun championships, we   present a history of the world in puns.

Junk the phrase 'human capital'


Branko Milanovic in Al Jazeera America (image Meriel Jane Waissman, Getty Images): Among many services both great and small that Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the 21st Century” has rendered to economics is his skeptical view of the terminology of human capital.

Elegies in the letters of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell


Austin Allen at Poetry Magazine: One January evening 50 years ago, Elizabeth Bishop wrote from Rio to her beloved friend and fellow poet Robert Lowell.

My Saga, Part 1: Karl Ove Knausgaard Travels Through North America


Karl Ove Knausgaard in the NYT: I lost my driver’s license over a year ago. I lose stuff all the time.


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