1. From a discussion at The New Yorker about the poetry of Rosmarie Waldrop:
The phrase [book title “Gap Gardening”] makes us think hard about the way language works, and about how words catalyze reality, rather than transcribe it. In nature, nothing can come from nothing, but in language it happens all the time.
What I love about Waldrop are the enigmas and paradoxes on every page, the belief that language is most beautiful when it slips or falters, and the sense that these linguistic short circuits most often happen in urgent verbal exchange.
2. Some context to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
3. NY Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan’s final blog post: “Five Things I Won’t Miss at The Times — and Seven I Will”
4. An article about a weird mid-20th Century cultural phenomenon: spanking.
7. Brains aren’t computers because brains are analog: How brain capacity isn’t understood yet.
9. Some subjects “underrepresented in contemporary fiction” include joy —
“In our insistence on despair as the most authentic iteration of experience, we risk writing fiction that is hamstrung in its ability to represent our humanity with the necessary breadth and nuance. The despairing self, characterized by alienation and misery, is limited and incomplete, and not a particularly accurate representation of the lushness of life as it is lived, mingled thing that it is”
— and characters beyond the “bourgeois” —
“a writer might free herself from the tired pursuit of fiction as a matter of professional advancement and set out in quest of the stories that don’t get told”
10. A review of “At the Existentialist Cafe” points out that the author, Sarah Bakewell, “shapes her answers in the form of biographical narratives, because her central theme is that the large impersonal ideas pursued by much modern philosophy are less profound and illuminating than the varied and conflicting truths found in stories of individual lives.”