Another Week Ends

Happy Tax Day! We hope you’ve enjoyed this first week on the new site. We […]

David Zahl / 4.15.11

Happy Tax Day! We hope you’ve enjoyed this first week on the new site. We certainly have. Be sure to be in touch as you notice things/bugs, either via the form at the bottom of each post or Two small updates: 1. The glossary section will be returning soon-ish, but in rewritten form. In the meantime, you can click on the Glossary category in the sidebar to find the old entries. And 2. We’re on Facebook! Like us, love us, share us, just please don’t ever break up with us… On that note:

1. In celebration of it hitting shelves today, we couldn’t resist directing the collective attention to yet another phenomenal article about the conundrum of reviewing David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, this time by Sam Anderson in The NY Times Magazine. He writes:

To speak of Wallace, now, is inevitably to take part in all of this — and to suffer the D.F.W.-esque worry that you are not just thinking about or enjoying D.F.W. but are actually performing your thinking and enjoyment for some kind of social gain.

The book is about accounting — how the primal urge of taking stock insinuates itself into everything — and Wallace finds a way to turn that utilitarian language (jargon, inventories) into a sneaky kind of data poetry.

Since the book never actually ends, it never quite comes into being as an art object. This is frustrating but also freeing. Reading it is strangely intimate: you adore what’s good and (knowing that it might have been fixed) forgive what’s less good. It’s endlessly tragic, obviously, this nonending to a brilliant career — but it also comes with a note of grace. Wallace was always struggling to get past what he considered the clever, show-offy polish of his early work. His late work, now, will never be finished, and in “The Pale King” we can see it actively not being finished. The book feels less like a public performance than a private fact — an object that exists right in the unglamorous teeth of all the little nondramas of daily work: routine, failure, repetition, trivia. In its conspicuous imperfection, in other words, the book ends up perfectly embodying its own themes. This feels, somehow, sadly, like at least one of the right possible endings.

2. Tonight brings the long-awaited premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones! The Times ran an interesting look at the source material last week:

[Co-writer/producer David] Benioff, who described himself as a lapsed fantasy reader, said he had become tired of a field crowded with J. R. R. Tolkien rip-offs. “Whenever you have the epic conflict of good and evil,” he said, “it becomes the most predictable story line ever, because we all know who’s going to win.”

But Mr. Martin’s novels, he said, were “adult fantasy, and not in the ‘Heavy Metal,’ giant-breasted Valkyrie way.” [Co-writer D.B.] Weiss added: “Nobody’s doing something because they’re evil or they’re good. Everybody’s doing something because they’re following their own very realistic and complex self-interests.”

3. Fantastic article in Empire on the making of Michael Jackson’s “Moonwalker” (out of print in the US):

“Michael Wanted to be a diety,” says [co-director Jerry] Kramer. “A benevolent god, rising above and spreading goodwill and peace with his magical powers. That was a very common theme. He always ended up saving us from evil. A very childlike view of things. But he sure could sing and dance.”

4. From Medical News Daily, a new study finds that “Compassion, Not Sanctions, Is Best Response To Workplace Anger.” ht JD.

5. A couple of interesting developments south of the border. First, a truly absurd example of the stranglehold of resentment in Language Only Spoken By Two People At Risk Of Dying Out As They Won’t Talk to Each Other. And then there’s The Last Fiesta, a Mexican wrestling version of DaVinci’s Last Supper, painted on skateboard decks. Inspired stuff:

via Pale Horse Design

6. Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated asks the question, Who Will Stand Up For Manny Ramirez? HT JB.

7. An important post on Internet Monk about the lack of imagination among Evangelicals, using Scot McKnight’s (promising sounding) new book, One.Life as a jumping off point.

8. A great little post discussing the Dostoevskian aspects of Woody Allen’s Take The Money and Run.

And finally, ht JD:



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