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Ivory salt cellar of the Edo people, Kingdom of Benin (in present-day Nigeria), in the Bini-Portuguese style. The figures depicted are stylized Portuguese, and the salt cellar was likely made for export to Europe. Artist unknown; 16th century. Now in the National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C. Photo credit: cliff1066/Wikimedia Commons.
Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazines archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.
Doesnt summer begin to feel dull? Like, who can stomach all this tedious sunshine anyway?
Before you go looking for some mischievous fun, consider Max Frischs definition of sin from his 1989 Writers at Work interview: a lack of capacity for love; read Yiyun Lis Persimmons, a short story about punishment and drought; and learn what happened to a misfortunate youth in Greg Kosmickis poem Lester Pyrtle Gets Snared By Sin and Caught in the Act By God in Old Man Mooneys Barn, Summer, 1956.
No one asked, How does one submit to falling forever, to going to pieces. A question from the inside. Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
As the summer heats up and my due date approaches, Ive been reading Pamela Druckermans cult book about French parenting Bringing Up Bb. Its a book people have been telling me about for years, I guess because I live in France and they want to know if they really serve Camembert in the crches (from what Ive heard, they do). But I had put off reading it until it felt, well, more relevant. If you dont have a kid and have no immediate plans to have kids, reading about how to raise one isnt going to be a top priority.
This is not the case for readers of the spate of new books about motherhood that have been hitting the shelves over the past few months. Motherhood is the new friendship, you might say. These are books that are putting motherhood on the map, literarily speaking, arguing forcefully, through their very existence, that it is a state worth reading about for anyone, parent or not. There is no more relevant subject to every person in the world than motherhood. All human life on the planet is born of woman, as Adrienne Rich begins her landmark book Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution (1976). Or as my friend A.N. Devers paraphrased Rich recently on Twitter: Moms are not a niche they literally make ALL THE PEOPLE.
This is one thing I keep marveling over as pregnancy has its way with my body: for every single person you see and have ever seen in your life, some poor woman went through what I am going through now. It seems too extraordinary to be true. My friend Jean, who is due in December, put it similarly in her TinyLetter (to which you must subscribe; she is a genius): On some of the worst days of the sickness I would look at people on the street and think: All of you did this to someone, every single one of you. How could I ever have thought of parenting, or motherhood, as a niche...
The Last Communion of St. Jerome, Sandro Botticelli, ca. 1495
When my wife and I first started dating, the poet Stanley Kunitz, one of the founders of the Fine Arts Work Center, visited her in a dream. She told him about our budding romance, and he said, with all the brightness and benevolence one would expect, Thats wonderful! Wonderful! (We later named our spaniel after him, though he turned out to be more like Stan Laurel than Stanley Kunitz.) That Stanley Kunitz might travel through the weird ether of dreams seems not wholly far-fetched. He believed in the necessary work done by the secret, sleeping self, busy tunneling the purple sea, as he puts it in an early poem. That belief was at the bedrock of his poetry and his teaching, and it continues to shape the institutions that he helped create, Poets House in New York City and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in particular.
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Fine Arts Work Center. At its heart is its fellowship program, which from October to May each year hosts ten artists and ten writers in the early stages of their careers. Fellows are given a monthly stipend and a place to live and work. The Work Center also holds a robust summer program of workshops, readings, and artist talks, as well as online classes all year round. It is, as the name suggests, a place to work and was built, fittingly, on the site of a former lumberyard.
Stanley Kunitz first visited the brine-spiked air of Provincetown in the early thirties, driving there on a whim in his Ford Model A from his farm in Connecticut. I loved the contours of the land and the immanence of the sea and the great sky, he said, so that was my original impression. It was another twenty years and three marriages, however, before he returned to the Cape. In 1958, he and his third wife, the painter Elise Asher, began spending summers there, renting a dilapidated shack on the beach that had previously been the studio of the painter Blanche Lazzell. Their house became a gathering place for their friends, many of them painters, including Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, and Ro...
Journal of the Optical Society of America (partial serial archives)
Communication From the Mayor of Baltimore, With the Mayor and Board of Police of Baltimore City (Frederick, MD: E. S. Riley, 1861), contrib. by George William Brown and Baltimore Board of Police (stable link)
Kansas Affairs: Speech of Hon. Charles E. Stuart, of Michigan, Delivered in the Senate of the United States, July 9, 1856 (Washington: Printed at the office of the Congressional globe, 1856), by C. E. Stuart (stable link)
Nebraska and Kansas: Speech of Mr. Cass, of Michigan, On the Powers of the Government Over Slavery in the Territories, Delivered in the Senate of the United States Feb. 20, 1854 (Washington: Printed at the Congressional Globe office, 1854), by Lewis Cass (stable link)
Practical Education (New York: Harper and Bros., 1835), by Maria Edgeworth and Richard Lovell Edgeworth (multiple formats at archive.org)
President's Message; Slavery; California: Speech of Hon. W. V. N. Bay, of Missouri, in the House of Representatives, February 20, 1850, in Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union, on the Resolution Referring the President's Message to the Various Standing Committees (Washington: Printed at the Congressional Globe office, 1850), by W. V. N. Bay (stable link)
Speech of Hon. E. K. Smart, of Maine, in Defence of the North Against the Charge of Aggression Upon the South: Delivered in the House of Representatives, April 23, 1852 (Washington: Printed at the Congressional Globe office, 1852), by E. K. Smart (stable link)
Speech of Hon. Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine, on the Proposition to Admit California as a State Into the Union: Delivered in the Senate of the United States, March 5, 1850 (Washington: Printed at the Congressional Globe office, 1850), by Hannibal Hamlin (stable link)
Speech of Hon. Thomas J. Rusk, of Texas, on the Boundaries of Texas (Washington: Printed at the Congressional Globe office, 1850), by Thomas J. Rusk (stable link)
Speech of Mr. Davis, of Mississippi, on the Subject of Slavery in the Territories, Delivered in the Senate of the United States, February 13 and 14, 1850 (Washington: Towers, 1850), by Jefferson Davis (stable link)
Texas and New Mexico: Speech of Hon. A. H. Stephens, of Georgia, in the House of Representatives, Friday, August 9, 1850, on the President's Message of August 6, 1850, Concerning Texas and New Mexico (Washington: Printed at the Congressional Globe office, 1850), by Alexander H. Stephens (stable link)
Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces: Diversity and Free Expression in Education (Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press, c2017), by John G. Palfrey (illustrated HTML at bravespaces.org)
Theoretical Inorganic Chemistry (New York: Reinhold Pub. Corp.; London: Chapman and Hall, c1962), by Marion Clyde Day and Joel Selbin (page images at HathiTrust)
The Chapin Book of Genealogical Data, With Brief Biographical Sketches, of the Descendants of Deacon Samuel Chapin (2 volumes; Hartford, CT: Chapin Family Association, 1924), by Gilbert Warren Chapin (page images at HathiTrust)
The Sacred Tree Script: The Esoteric Foundation of Plato's Wisdom (New Haven, CT: Tuttle, Morehouse and Taylor Co., 1941), by Andrew Efron (page images at HathiTrust)
The Old Town Speaks: Washington, Hempstead County, Arkansas, Gateway to Texas, 1835, Confederate Capital, 1863 (Houston: Anson Jones Press, 1951), by Charlean Moss Williams (page images at HathiTrust)
Cloud Computing for Science and Engineering (prepublication version, 2017), by Ian Foster and Dennis B. Gannon (HTML at cloud4scienceng.org)
Marble mask of a satyr. Artist unknown; 1st cent. CE. Found at the site of ancient Turris Libisonis, Sardinia; now in the Antiquarium Turritano, Porto Torres, Sardinia. Photo credit: Carole Raddato.
When Martha Graham was a child, she often visited her fathers office after work hours. One such day, she climbed on a pile of books so she could see the top of her fathers desk, where he was looking at a drop of water on a glass slide. When he asked her what she saw, she described it as pure water. He slipped the slide under the lens of a microscope, and she peered once more through the lens. But there are wriggles in it, she said in horror.
Yes, it is impure, he replied. Just remember this all your life, Martha. You must look for the truthgood, bad, or unsettling.
Movement, he taught her, never lies. It was a lesson she would recall years later, as she dictated her memoir, Blood Memory, at age ninety-six. In a curious way, this was my first dance lesson, Graham writes, a gesture toward the truth. Each of us tells our own story even without speaking.
A few years earlier, and several states away, Helen Keller had her own revelation about watershe realized that what was flowing over her hand from her familys pump matched the word her teacher, Annie Sullivan, was signing into her hand: water. Somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me, Keller writes in her own memoir, The Story of My Life. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away.
For both women, water facilitated a web of connection between materiality, movement, and language, a realization that led them, improbably, toward each other. When Keller was seventy-two years old, a friend introduced her to Graham, by then the doyenne of modern dance. Graham invited Keller to her dance studios at 66 Fifth Avenue to observe, and the two became fast friends. Both were already famousKeller for untangling her blindness from her fate, Graham for believing that passion, not technique, was the pulse of dance. In her memoir, Graham says she was taken with Kellers ability to perceive life through her own unique awareness; Keller followed Grahams choreography by fixating on dancers feet on the floor, which she felt with her hands in order to learn in what direction the dance was going. Graham, alway...
Heres the thing about us Finns: we havent traditionally been very good at branding. In fact, seeing the brand-led global success stories originating from Sweden (IKEA, H&M, Spotify, Skype, Absolut Vodka, ABBA, Stieg Larsson, etc.), weve been overcome with jealousy. In Finland, weve been known only for Nokia phones. Engaging in excessive promotion doesnt suit the quiet, self-effacing Finnish spirit; in Finland, youre expected to do your job well and then let the work do the talking. In some cases, thats worked for us: you bought a Nokia phone not because it made you cool but because you could drop it in the toilet or throw it across your apartment and somehow, miraculously, it still worked. But then Nokia went down the drain.
Nokias undoing dovetails with the rise of the iPhone in 2007. The dwindling of Nokia, our biggest export, left an enormous dent in the Finnish economy. At the turn of the millennium, a staggering 4 percent of the Finnish GDP came from the company, and Nokia represented 21 percent of Finlands total exports and 14 percent of corporate tax revenues. It was and still is unprecedented, Gordon Kelly writes in Wired. Nokias downfall left an even bigger dent on Finnish self-confidence. We were getting run over by Americans who were louder than we were.
Around the time of the global recession, the Finns set out as a nation to find the next Nokia. It was all we talked about. In a small socially democratic nation like ours, where so much is shared, we felt a common responsibility over our exports. Anything and everything could be the next Nokia, we said, so long as we figure out how to brand it. Tech start-ups were the obvious choice, but cultural products emerged as a strong contender. Could we sell even more great design? Leverage our architecture? Finnish heavy metal started to do well in Germany and the Anglo American world. Then something decisive happened in Finnish literature.
In 2008, the Finnish Estonian writer Sofi Oksanen published her third book, Purgea play-turned-novel about two women in Soviet-occupied Estonia who face the atrocities of their paststo enormous critical and commercial success. Oksan...
Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin - find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.
Maya Angelou (via mesogeios)
Last summer, the documentarian Marina Zenovich joined some friends for a beachside lunch in Saint-Tropez. She was on holiday from editing her film Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind, which airs on HBO on July 16. The crudits basket arrived, and Ibrave from the sun and the rosblurted, Marina! Williamss best animated container was Batty, not Genie. Zenovich dragged endive through vinaigrette. Whos Batty? she asked. And then, with the flawless patience of a master interviewer, she said, Okay. Tell me.
This story takes place over a span of eight months in 1992. Robin Williams appeared in theaters for two animated feature films. First, he lent his voice to a jumpy fruit bat in the indie environmental flick FernGully, about a tribe of fairies living in endangered nature; then, he voiced a high-octane jinni on retainer for three wishes in the Disney blockbuster Aladdin. The characters share traits, namely a deep-seated distrust of people. In the one case, people had experimented on him until his sonar failed, and in the other, theyd enslaved him on a wish-fulfillment circuit. Where Batty Kodas head sprouted wires, Genie had passed ten thousand years in a common oil lamp because humans, it seemed, were real jerks. Theyre numb from the brain down, Batty claims.
That was always a part of Robins comedy repertoirehow stupid and fucked up humans beings are, Wayne Young, the producer of both Crocodile Dundee and FernGully, told me. FernGullys Zak, a teenage logger, and the titular Aladdin, a teenage sneak thief, were supposed to be exceptional mensches. They held little charm for us kids. What we did noticeas did the adults who reviewed the movieswas that Williamss deuteragonists steal both shows. The bat is by far the pictures most memorable creation, chiefly because, well, hes Robin Williams in bat drag, Hal Hinson wrote at the Washin...
Thank you to all the voters and authors for the Childrens Readathon were holding next month. There were a few ties and a couple of last minute additions before the final round of voting, so I broke the vote for any open items to land at a total of 10 books for August. Congratulations to our participating bloggers. Below is our schedule for the winning books. You can join in and read any or all of the books with us options from 1, 2, 3 or all 4 weeks!
*Additionally, we will have guest posts from some bloggers all about being an author, childrens literacy, and other fun topics. Books by our Authors Who Blog will be chosen next week; more on this when I confirm the posts with the bloggers as well as Giveaways. Example: Kenna McKinnon is offering a special giveaway contest for Benjamin & Rumblechum, Laurie Woodward will share about her books and Battle of the Books.
Throw out any ideas or suggestions if youd like to blog one day in August, too, and Ill re-blog and share with everyone, too. Read earlier and hold your reviews until the final date if thats easier, too. If youve read the book already, you can re-share your review and other content on the scheduled date. This should be fun, interactive, and helpful to spread the news. Thank you!
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