Summary of “Why Marlon James Decided to Write an African “Game of Thrones””

Fifteen years ago, when Marlon James was working on his first novel, he requested an exorcism.
After winning the Booker, James told an interviewer that he was going to “Geek the fuck out” and write an “African Game of Thrones.” The first installment of what he calls the Dark Star trilogy, “Black Leopard, Red Wolf,” comes out in February.
The show has not yet been green-lighted, but James is optimistically attempting to write a part for Grace Jones, who was born one town over from Portmore and is one of his idols-a print of her “Island Life” record cover hangs behind his dinner table in Minnesota.
James had wanted to write a “Noirish, magical-realist fable” about Jamaican rural life, he told me-a story that wouldn’t idealize its pastoral setting.
James had wanted to write about the impossibly brutal and volatile period in Jamaica when enslaved Africans outnumbered their white owners by more than ten to one.
James’s brothers-he has seven brothers and sisters, four of them half siblings, though James speaks of them all simply as siblings-had discussed the possibility that James was gay, Richard told me, speaking on the phone from a barbershop, above the metallic hum of clippers.
At the bar, there was a hand-lettered sign atop a little table that read “Reserved for Marlon James.” “I should have worn tights underneath this dress,” James said, as we sat down.
Backstage, Shears embraced James and demanded a copy of “Black Leopard.” As we were leaving, James glanced at the “Reserved for Marlon James” sign on our table.

The orginal article.

Summary of “On the Experience of Entering a Bookstore in Your Forties”

There aren’t just books to read but books I’ve already read. Lives I’ve lived.
No one reads everything, nor even all the books they’d like to.
John Muir’s famous quote about ecology might as well have been about choosing what books to buy: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” The bookstore is a liminal space.
Entering a bookstore now, at 44, with the benefit of hindsight, the choices I made as a young writer seem almost inevitable.
As luck would have it, the story of that half-year became my first published book, and the book helped me land a teaching job in Massachusetts.
There waiting in an inconspicuous bookstore in Concord, Massachusetts, in a glossy oversized coffee table book, was a glassy-green piece of my heart, a glimpse of a life I couldn’t get back.
As my father so eloquently reminded me last year when I mentioned I’d been shoveling snow: “Be careful, Bud: You’re in the heart-attack zone.” How many books do I have left to read?
How does reading evolve? Are books to us as leaves are to trees, feeding us while we hold them, then decomposing and feeding us again after we’ve let them go? I’m heartened by my elders.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Cultural criticism matters”

The two years since the 2016 election have been disastrous for the continued employment of cultural critics and journalists The last two years have not been particularly great for cultural criticism and culture writing more generally.
If you look beyond publications that have intentionally reduced the number of culture writers on their staffs, you’ll find many that have curtailed hiring around culture writing – often in favor of expanding political coverage.
Kracauer’s methods can be applied to our current pop culture – and the most astute cultural critics often do so Kracauer, of course, was writing his book after the end of World War II. Nazism had been defeated, and German cinema was knocked back by the end of the war as much as everything else in the country.
Culture writing can help better explain a vast, sometimes contradictory society When I make the above argument in favor of cultural criticism to journalistic colleagues who deal in what might be dubbed the “Hard sciences” of journalism – data-driven, boots-on-the-ground reporting – I am always aware that it sounds just a little fantastical.
Few critics looked at the pop culture of the early 2010s and said, “Yep, a culture war’s brewing,” even if it seems blindingly obvious in hindsight.
7 great pieces of culture writing from 2018 If you’re excited to explore some great culture writing from the past year, here are seven of my favorite pieces digging into pop culture in all its forms.
“CBS’s toxic culture isn’t just behind the scenes. It’s in the shows that it makes,” Kathryn VanArendonk for Vulture VanArendonk uses deep knowledge of CBS crime procedurals to point to how a culture of sexual harassment was allowed to flourish not just at the company but in the shows it put on the air.
Correction: The writers who left Buzzfeed, though culture writers, weren’t primarily focused on writing criticism.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Myth of Creative Inspiration”

Franz Kafka is considered one of the most creative and influential writers of the 20th century, but he actually spent most of his time working as a lawyer for the Workers Accident Insurance Institute.
How did Kafka produce such fantastic creative works while holding down his day job?
The work of top creatives isn’t dependent upon motivation or creative inspiration, but rather it follows a consistent pattern and routine.
An article in The Guardian agreed by saying, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.” And there are plenty of research studies on willpower and motivation to back up that statement.
In other words, if you’re serious about creating something compelling, you need to stop waiting for motivation and creative inspiration to strike you and simply set a schedule for doing work on a consistent basis.
Weightlifting offers a good metaphor for scheduling creative work.
The only way to actually lift bigger weights was to continually show up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – regardless of whether any individual workout was good or bad. Creative work is no different than training in the gym.
You have to give yourself permission to grind through the occasional days of below average work because it’s the price you have to pay to get to excellent work.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to Write Your Way Through the Middle”

Who wants to read a book when you don’t need binoculars to see how it’ll end up? The wandering could be the identification and resolution of a character conflict, or it could be a warranted time-out from life so that your character can figure shit out.
Allow your character to make those meandering choices, but don’t wander too far off where you can’t find your way back.
Sometimes it’s important that your characters not go where you need them to go in an effort to write a tight and tidy book.
Remember, while your characters are going through a journey, so is your reader, and you want to make sure they experience a multitude of emotions without exhausting or boring them.
Show how the past for these two characters is inextricably tied to the present: In some ways, the past is a chokehold.
Actors bring their characters to life through physical details and motor actions, and people on the page are no different.
Define their worldview and how they think: Every character, like a person, has a unique worldview or perspective that’s often colored by nature and nurture dynamic.
Did the plot go where I wanted it to? Did my characters go through their emotional trajectory? Does the middle act as a solid conduit guiding readers seamlessly from the beginning to the end, or did I lose my reader somewhere along the way? Often, I will read through the entire draft, compare it with the outlines, determine what’s not working, and then work in sections, which means revising a bulk of chapters for a character, structural, or story issues.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Do So Many Scientists Want to be Filmmakers?”

In his interview with us, molecular biologist Peter Gruss, former president of the Max Planck Society, a science research organization, stresses that science and art don’t occupy separate cultures, they never have.
The connection between science and art runs deeper, offers Hope Jahren, a geochemist and geobiologist, and author of Lab Girl, a memoir of coming of age in science.
In his recent biography of Leonardo da Vinci, veritable embodiment of the Renaissance, Walter Isaacson writes that Da Vinci’s science, his explorations of engineering, anatomy, geology, and botany, were not separate endeavors from his art, his painting and sculpture.
“Breakthroughs in art break up the hardpan of the soil and fertilize it, add compost to the mix, and then the fruit of science, the plant of science, can find its roots.” For instance, Murch says, the turn of the 20th century “Brought the development of motion pictures, which is basically the quantization of movement, breaking movement down into discrete frame movements. Then about 10 years later, along comes Max Planck and gives us the theory of the quantum. That’s around the same time that films began to be edited and put together to tell a coherent story out of parts that are not shot in sequence. So those two things, quantum mechanics and the development of motion pictures, work together.”
“I think it’s pretty interesting that science can top that for me right now, because there are just so many interesting things going on that I want to know more about,” she says.
“There are the ways they used-studying human interaction with the arts-but they also taught me science was a way to explore the universe. So I got a lot of my fascination for science from these humanities parents!”.
Now long into his career in astrobiology and exoplanetary science, and popular science writing-his latest book is The Zoomable Universe-Scharf says a connection with the arts and humanities ultimately makes better science.
“If scientists don’t retain a sense of humanity, a sense of connection to being human, it’s detrimental to their work. We’re all blinkered. We’re all inevitably biased by so many things in our culture and own personal makeup. Even the most hard-nosed, analytic scientist is not immune to that. It will skew the way they look at nature, it will skew the way they explore problems. My principle in science is an open mind. Always question and never shut off any avenue. For that reason, it’s important for scientists to retain a good connection to humanity.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Freedom and Creative Vitality in a Market Society: Ursula K. Le Guin on Saving Books from Profiteering and Commodification – Brain Pickings”

On November 19, 2014, Ursula K. Le Guin took the podium to receive her second National Book Award with a short, stunning acceptance speech, later included in Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016, with a Journal of a Writer’s Week – the splendid collection that gave us Le Guin on the artist’s task in meaning-making and her operating instructions for life.
Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope.
We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality.
We need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art.
I see a lot of us, the producers, who write the books and make the books, accepting this – letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write.
Le Guin ends her admonition on a hopeful and empowering note – a clarion call for resistance, reminding us that any broken system is fixable, and that the fixing falls on our own participatory hands.
Le Guin’s unassailable belief in literature as a force of freedom and her fierce advocacy for public libraries were a large part of our inspiration for donating all proceeds from A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader – which contains her last published piece – to the public library system.
Complement the thoroughly scrumptious Words Are My Matter with Le Guin on poetry and science, storytelling as an instrument of freedom, getting to the other side of suffering, the power of art to transform and redeem, the art of growing older, and her classic unsexing of gender.

The orginal article.

Summary of “My year of reading African women, by Gary Younge”

Feeling it was time to fix my radar, I decided, when it came to fiction, to read only African women for a year.
“It used to be just a few writers published mostly as part of an educational series,” explains Margaret Busby, editor of Daughters of Africa, the landmark anthology of writing by women of African descent, which came out in 1992.
“Until you can no longer count the number of African women writers who have broken through then we’ve still got work to do,” says Busby, whose sequel, New Daughters of Africa, comes out next year.
With the year almost up I have read 18 books by authors from Morocco, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Egypt, Somalia, Uganda, Ethiopia and Cameroon.
In his satirical 2006 Granta essay, How to Write About Africa, Binyavanga Wainaina advises: “Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel prize … Taboo subjects: ordinary domestic scenes, love between Africans, references to African writers or intellectuals, mention of school-going children who are not suffering from yaws or Ebola fever or female genital mutilation.”
A pecking order emerges among wives and children, in a range of abusive relationships between men and women, women and women and women and their children, producing rivalries that propel plots.
Somewhere deep in my subconscious I must have decided that books by African women would be harder than those by some other demographics.
On some level I must have had reading African women down as self-improving but not necessarily enjoyable, when in fact it was mostly the latter and often both.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What made The Weekly Standard great”

When it was announced on Friday that The Weekly Standard would print its last issue after nearly a quarter of a century, I was astonished.
It’s worth saying at the outset that I and millions of other Americans of all political tendencies disagreed with the editors of The Weekly Standard about the Iraq war.
The most obvious one is that the Standard was, for more than two decades, the best right-of-center periodical published in the United States.
The Standard was founded when The American Spectator, which had a long glorious run as a kind of conservative New York Review of Books in the ’80s, was flying Icarus-like into the horizon.
In the years to come I would go from thinking of the Standard as “The right-wing New Yorker” to calling the latter publication, as its pages became more saturated with politics and its cultural coverage declined, “The liberal Weekly Standard.” Unlike so many legacy print periodicals, the magazine expanded its online presence without dumbing down.
In domestic politics the Standard always stood for a more humane, less libertarian vision of conservatism.
It certainly cannot be blamed on the Standard’s three best writers, who, I believe to a man, had serious doubts about our recent adventures in Mesopotamia.
The Weekly Standard’s unexpected end is a sad thing for this country not because many of its editors and writers stood against President Trump but because at their best they stood for things that matter far more than the short-term fortunes of any politician.

The orginal article.

Summary of “We thought the Incas couldn’t write. These knots change everything”

“Break the khipu code and we might finally read an indigenous Inca history”.
The majority of surviving khipus consist of a pencil-thick primary cord, from which hang multiple “Pendant” cords and, in turn, “Subsidiaries”.
There are reasons to think khipus may record other things, including stories and myths – the sort of narrative information that many cultures write down.
There are all sorts of varying factors in khipus: the colour of the strings, the structure of the knots and the direction in which they were hitched.
Each khipu had hundreds of pendant cords, and they were more colourful and complex than anything she had ever seen.
Because the Collata khipus were thought to be letters, they probably encoded senders and recipients.
Hyland is the first to admit that we don’t understand the link between these khipus and those dating from before the Spanish arrived.
Urton too is turning his attention to narrative khipus, even if he has a different idea on how they encoded information.

The orginal article.