Sundry Links: Malkovich pics, B.J. Novak books, etc.

Here are a collection of links unrelated except that they have been collected by me:

1. Actor John Malkovich models in re-creations of famous pictures.

2. A really interesting description of the writer’s stroke, located in her thalamus. She writes about how the stroke affected her memory and ability to write:

I wrote what I could. In the beginning, I blogged and wrote in my journal. I often flipped my homophones in my writing — pore and pour, hay and hey, real and reel,feat and feet, aisle and isle, for and four. I would reread and not see the errors.

and

And, I found, I could not lie. I could not write fiction. So instead I wrote the truth. I started an anonymous blog on which I chronicled my stroke recovery as a writer. It connected me to friends that I have to this day.

and

I learned stories and memories are pieces of a puzzle, pieced together most likely by the thalamus. This means I couldn’t lie. Because I couldn’t lie, I couldn’t write fiction. But later, knowing this is how stories are told — knowing firsthand that stories are segments woven together — helps. It helps.

3. A post about Alan Watts and timing vs. hurrying.

4. Insights into mortuary business. Caitlin Doughty says cremation was not popular before 1960s:

The history of how we got to where we are with death is so fascinating, and most people don’t know, they just think that the way we “do” death is how we “do” death. We have a very short cultural memory when it comes to death rituals in and methods in this country.

and

2.5 million people die in the U.S. every year after all, but we’ve built up this idea that talking about death is deviant. Death is not deviant, it’s actually the most normal and universal act there is.

5. In a new book for kids, writer and actor B.J. Novak says he likes books that don’t try to teach kids but try to side with them:

The books I loved as a child all had one thing in common: They were very fundamentally on the side of the kid. They represented mischief. That’s what really got me interested in reading. For all Dr. Seuss’s educational accolades, every kid sees what he’s doing and knows, “This guy is Team Kid. This guy isn’t trying to teach me anything. It’s a rebellious, joyous book just for me.”

and

Reading, to me, at its most fundamental level, is freedom. Everyone who grows up loving books truly is much better off in life. The more curious you are about books, the more you self-educate. Kids start to get that in their teenage years—books can either be homework, or they can be fuel for rebellion. If it’s the latter, you love reading. This book is one way to show even the littlest kids, “This stuff is for you, buddy.”

Novak also said:

The actor in me started to realize that there was something very funny about the whole experience. This kid was handing me a script: “Here are your lines tonight. Please perform for my enjoyment.” I thought the funniest thing in that situation would be for me to have to say things I don’t want to say—things that the kid is making me say.

So it came from there. If the adult had to say silly things, I knew the kid would feel very powerful and would feel that books are very powerful. Working backwards, I realized that if there were no pictures, it would be an even more delightful trick: The kid is taking a grown-up style book and using it against the grown-up.

6. A memento mori moment: Joseph Hergesheimer was a famous writer — until he wasn’t.

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