spliced comma

a blog about books and their desire to be loved

The Letter Where Adrienne Rich Declines The National Medal

Over at Brain Pickings, they have reproduced Adrienne Rich’s letter to President Clinton and The National Endowment for the Arts, where she declines her National Medal for the Arts award. The letter is short, but has powerful paragraphs like this one:

There is no simple formula for the relationship of art to justice. But I do know that art—in my own case the art of poetry—means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage. The radical disparities of wealth and power in America are widening at a devastating rate. A President cannot meaningfully honor certain token artists while the people at large are so dishonored.

There is also audio of Rich reading the letter on Democracy Now‘s radio show.

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Off Topic: “The Rise of a Confident Hollywood”

Universal_Studios_Hollywood_Entrance

I am currently a PhD student at York University, Toronto, Canada, and I have recently published an article on risk in the Hollywood film business. The article is free to read.

Here is a short abstract of the paper:

This paper investigates the historical development of risk in the Hollywood film business. Using opening theatres as a proxy for future expectations, the paper demonstrates how, from 1981 to 2011, Hollywood has improved its ability to predict the financial rankings of its films. More specifically, the Hollywood film business has become better at predicting which films will earn a greater-than average share of all US box-office gross revenues through a wide release strategy. This greater predictability suggests that confidence in film earnings projections has increased.

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Listening to Good Writing: The Case of Zinsser and This American Life

We can love a book for so many reasons, but one of them, maybe the essential one, is good writing. But good writing does not necessarily have to be printed in a book, and it does not even need to be read. William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well, an acclaimed book that was mentioned in an earlier post, has come to learn this truth at the age of 90. The New York Times recently published an article about Zinsser, whose eyesight has now been significantly damaged from glaucoma. Although no longer able to read himself, Zinsser now meets writers in one-on-one sessions in order to listen to works in progress. Read the rest of this entry »

Criterion Collection: Film Adaptations

fearloathingcriterion

Criterion Collection, the distributor of both old and contemporary films, has compiled a list of its films that are adaptations from novels: Novels on the Big Screen.

There’s a long-held and widespread feeling that a movie adaptation of a novel is never as good as the source. It’s easy to see how this became received wisdom, given the sheer difficulty of translating a plot that unfolds over hundreds of pages to a feature-length film’s running time, the immensity of the passions and mysteries that a novel can hold. The challenge for the film version is to function as its own work of art while at the same time reflecting a previously established perspective. But there have been many films that brilliantly interpret the literary universes they take on.

Definition of artistic representation?

Ireland’s central bank misquotes James Joyce’s Ulysses on its new commemorative 10 euro coin, and this is somehow an artistic representation of the author and text and not intended as a literal representation.

Thoughts? – [via The Guardian]

Reasons to Read The Works of Lewis Mumford

To me, Lewis Mumford is a lot like Stefan Zweig. When he was alive, Stefan Zweig was one of the most popular German language writers–his amazing autobiography, The World Of Yesterday, reads like a who’s who of early twentieth century European literature. Today, Zweig is relatively unknown. He is certainly not remembered and admired in the same way as Hermann Hesse, Gunter Grass or Thomas Mann (yes, a Nobel Prize is the common denominator of their lasting fame). Lewis Mumford, when he was alive, was prolific: he was a columnist for The New Yorker and he wrote over two dozen books, many of which are over four hundred pages in length. Mumford is today, in comparison to Herbert Marcuse and Marshal McLuhan, a lesser known theorist of technology and modern society. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

drunk irish

Sláinte

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From Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds:

When things go wrong and will not come right,
Though you do the best you can,
When life looks black as the hour of night —
A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN.

When money’s tight and is hard to get
And your horse has also ran,
When all you have is a heap of debt —
A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN.

When health is bad and your heart feels strange,
And your face is pale and wan,
When doctors say that you need a change,
A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN.

When food is scarce and your larder bare
And no rashers grease your pan,
When hunger grows as your meals are rare —
A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN.

In time of trouble and lousy strife,
You have still got a darlint plan,
You still can turn to a brighter life —
A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN.

Off Topic: New DJ Mix

I have a new DJ mix. It’s part house, part techno, part baltimore club, with a hint of glitch and hardcore punk. Maybe not the best music for reading, but I still hope you enjoy it.

 

Norm MacDonald’s Tip For Hopeful Writers

On the internet, there is no shortage of writing tips from established writers. Yet, few poke fun at the serious intensity through which the advice about writing is given. Here, to add some levity and playfulness,  is Norm MacDonald telling a story about him and the late Drake Sather: