Tag Archives: Books

The End of Publishing

I have no idea whether to believe the first or second half of this two-minute YouTube video. But I salute ingenuity:

(Via clusterflock)

Writing Begets Slavery

A rather stunning statement on reading, buried inside Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Tristes Tropiques:

The only phenomenon with which writing has always been concomitant is the creation of cities and empires, that is the integration of large numbers of individuals into a political system, and their grading into castes or classes. Such, as any rate, is the typical pattern of development to be observed from Egypt to China, at the time when writing first emerged: it seems to have favoured the exploitation of human beings rather than their enlightenment. This exploitation, which made it possible to assemble thousands of workers and force them to carry out exhausting tasks, is a much more likely explanation of the birth of architecture than the direct link referred to above. My hypothesis, if correct, would oblige us to recognize the fact that the primary function of written communication is to facilitate slavery. The use of writing for disinterested purposes, and as a source of intellectual and aesthetic pleasure, is a secondary result, and more often than not it may even be turned into a means of strengthening, justifying or concealing the other.

Dan Visel, who noted the passage, adds his own thoughts:

One sees on an almost-daily basis recourse to the position of Socrates in Plato’s Phaedrus – technology, no matter how simple, inevitably leads to a lessening of human facilities of memory – but this is something different, and one that I think merits consideration. Periodically, I wish that someone would present a cogent argument against reading, rather than the oft-regurgitated pablum that “at least the kids are reading.”

The argument is essentially one between receiving stories and experiencing them. What good, really, does reading do? Wouldn’t it be better to go out and smell a tree than read about one? Play piano rather than read bout it? Live life rather than receive it? Maybe.

The rest of the piece talks about Tino Sehgal’s fascinating installation at the Guggenheim. The New Yorker wrote about the human installations.

100 Best Last Lines from Novels

Matt Yglesias, who first pointed me to this list of the 100 Best Last Lines of Novels [PDF], complained that Gatsby was robbed at No. 3:

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Respectable. The only line that came to my mind before looking at the list was Hemingway’s:

“Yes,” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

So, by default, that’s my “best.” Papa came in at No. 6, behind Beckett, Ellison, Fitzgerald, Joyce, and Twain.

Related: the quality seems to drop rather abruptly after the first dozen or so. Am I wrong?

Graphic covers

We’re suckers for a good book cover, and especially so after recently seeing the maze of covers at the world’s largest independent bookstore. These, from the Penguin Graphic Classics, are particularly cool. Here’s Huck Finn:

And Candide, by a favorite of ours, Chris Ware (click to read the text):

More seen here. Via the Book Bench.

The End, Revisited

Design maven and Kansas native (and Meanderings’ rec league basketball teammate) Marshall Rake has a cool book. It’s filled with the end of famous novels, reimmagined. Here’s “On The Road”:

More at Epilogue Magazine. Even more here.

Books can be cool too!

This video, from the New Zealand Book Council manages to make books look cool, which is an accomplishment in and of itself:

Books for girls, too

In the interest of gender equity, here are 10 books for girls. I’m 50 percent girly.