Tag Archives | Literature

Anais Nin on LSD’s value

via Arthur

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[Huxley] reminded me that drugs are beneficial if they provide the only access to our nightlife. I realized that the expression “blow my mind” was born of the fact that America had cemented access to imagination and fantasy and that it would take dynamite to remove this block! I believed Leary’s emphasis on the fact we use only one percent of our mind or potential, that everything in our education conspires to restrict and constrict us. I only wished people had had time to study drugs as they studied religion or philosophy and to adapt to this chemical alteration of our bodies.

[LSD's] value is in being a shortcut to the unconscious, so that one enters the realm of intuition unhampered, pure as it is in children, of direct emotional reaction to nature, to other human beings. In a sense it is the return to the spontaneity and freshness of childhood vision which makes every child able to paint or sing.… Read the rest

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Action Camus, the Superman of Nihilism

Was reading Boldtype's "10 Awesome Books to Give Your Nonreading Friends" where I came across the work of cartoonist R. Sikoryak. Here'a an article about him from The New Yorker:
For twenty years, the cartoonist R. Sikoryak has been creating parody strips of literary masterpieces, casting familiar cartoon characters in classic roles — Little Lulu as Pearl Prynne, Little Nemo as Dorian Gray, Charlie Brown as Gregor Samsa. If you’re like me, and you sometimes like your serious literature with a side of Beavis and Butthead (see Sikoryak’s take on “Waiting for Godot”), you will probably laugh out loud over Masterpiece Comics, a collection of thirteen of these strips, just out from Drawn & Quarterly.
Here is R. Sikoryak's take on an existentialist superhero: ActionCamus Check out the The New Yorker link for a Kafkaesque Charlie Brown tale.
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Winner Of Bad Sex Award Announced

From Reuters:
Jonathan Littell, who won France's prestigious Prix Goncourt in 2006 for "The Kindly Ones," has picked up another prize for the same work -- the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award. The annual prize was contested this year by literary heavyweights Philip Roth for "The Humbling," John Banville for "The Infinites" and Paul Theroux for "A Dead Hand." The judges praised what they called Littell's "ambitious and impressive" novel, which was originally published in French. "It is in part a work of genius," they said. "However, a mythologically inspired passage and lines such as 'I came suddenly, a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg' clinched the award for The Kindly Ones...
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Kurt Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse Five

On the fascinating site Letters of Note:
In December of 1944, whilst behind enemy lines during the Rhineland Campaign, Private Kurt Vonnegut was captured by Wehrmacht troops and subsequently became a prisoner of war. A month later, Vonnegut and his fellow POWs reached a Dresden work camp where they were imprisoned in an underground slaughterhouse known by German soldiers as Schlachthof Fünf (Slaughterhouse Five). The next month — February — the subterranean nature of the prison saved their lives during the highly controversial and devastating bombing of Dresden, the aftermath of which Vonnegut and the remaining survivors helped to clear up. Vonnegut released the book Slaughterhouse-Five in 1969. Below is a letter he wrote to his family that May from a repatriation camp, in which he informs them of his capture and survival:

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Scientist Announces that she is Call Girl and Blogger Belle de Jour

From the Guardian:

One of the best kept literary secrets of the decade was revealed last night when 34-year-old scientist Dr Brooke Magnanti announced she was the writer masquerading as call girl Belle de Jour.

The author behind the bestselling books detailing her secret life as a prostitute decided to come out to one of her fiercest critics, Sunday Times columnist India Knight, after claiming anonymity had become “no fun”. “I couldn’t even go to my own book launch party”, she said.

Until last week, even her agent was unaware of her name. But now Magnanti, a respected specialist in developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology in a hospital research group in Bristol, has spoken of the time six years ago she worked as a £300 an hour prostitute working through a London escort agency. Magnanti turned to the agency in the final stages of her PhD thesis when she ran out of money.

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U.S. Map Of Banned Books

There are hundreds of challenges to books in schools and libraries in the United States every year. According to the American Library Association (ALA), there were at least 513 in 2008. But the total is far larger. 70 to 80 percent are never reported.

This map is drawn from cases documented by ALA and the Kids’ Right to Read Project, a collaboration of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. Note that the cases mapped are only from the past three years (2007-2009).

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‘Wild Things’ Author Maurice Sendak To Concerned Parents: Go To Hell!

Great find from Charlie Jane Anders on io9.com:

If you’re worried about taking your kids to see Where The Wild Things Are after reports of crying children having to leave screenings of the rough cut, halfway through, then Maurice Sendak has a message for you: “Go to hell.”

A story in the Oct. 19 Newsweek contains this classic exchange:

What do you say to parents who think the Wild Things film may be too scary?

Sendak: I would tell them to go to hell. That’s a question I will not tolerate.

Because kids can handle it?

Sendak: If they can’t handle it, go home. Or wet your pants. Do whatever you like. But it’s not a question that can be answered.

Jonze: Dave, you want to field that one?

Eggers: The part about kids wetting their pants? Should kids wear diapers when they go to the movies? I think adults should wear diapers going to it, too.

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Behind Afghan War Debate, a Battle of Two Books Rages

Peter Spiegel and Jonathan Weisman report in the Wall Street Journal:
WASHINGTON -- The struggle to set the future course of the Afghan war is becoming a battle of two books -- both suddenly popular among White House and Pentagon brain trusts. The two draw decidedly different lessons from the Vietnam War. The first book describes a White House in 1965 being marched into an escalating war by a military viewing the conflict too narrowly to see the perils ahead. President Barack Obama recently finished the book, according to administration officials, and Vice President Joe Biden is reading it now. The second describes a different administration, in 1972, when a U.S. military that has finally figured out how to counter the insurgency is rejected by political leaders who bow to popular opinion and end the fight. It has been recommended in multiple lists put out by military officers, including a former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, who passed it out to his subordinates. The two books -- "Lessons in Disaster" on Mr. Obama's nightstand, and "A Better War" on the shelves of military gurus -- have become a framework for the debate over what will be one of the most important decisions of Mr. Obama's presidency...
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Fair Use Copyright Advocates Go One Up On Joyce Estate Copyright Thugs

For all of you who are rooting for a more flexible and practical copyright law, this should be hailed as a significant victory, as reported by Andrew Albanese in Publishers Weekly:

In what Fair Use advocates this week hailed as a vindication for the rights of scholars to use copyrighted materials for critical works, the literary estate of James Joyce has agreed to pay $240,000 in legal fees to settle a copyright lawsuit sparked by what attorneys called “threats and intimidation” by Stephen James Joyce, in his efforts to deter author Carol Shloss from quoting Joyce family documents or works in her book and in a subsequent Web-based supplement. The settlement, attorneys say, suggests a rather novel concept: sometimes the best fair use defense is a good offense. “This case shows there are solutions to the problem Carol Shloss faced other than simple capitulation,” said Stanford Fair Use Project executive director Anthony Falzone, whose organization represented Schloss.

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