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Short Takes: Theory of Sublimity

“Soda,” or “pop”? Here’s a more nuanced answer (maybe) to accents, intonations, inflections,  and everything else that makes speech interesting.

Ben Lerner, setting it straight in The New Yorker: “…I’m probably more afraid of being reductive than of being difficult. In the name of clarity, a lot of authors offer what strike me as basically pre-fabricated structures of feeling, leaving no room for the reader to participate in the construction of meaning. These writers interpret everything within the story for you in advance, often under the sign of a realism that seems to involve reducing the messiness of lived experience to a tidy geometrical plot. I’d rather err on the side of complexity. But ultimately I’m not sure how much it’s up to me. In both my poems and prose I feel like I have to discover what’s possible in the act of composition. What I intend often seems beside the point.”

The first draft of Elizabeth Bishop’s masterpiece villanelle “One Art” moved through three titles: first “HOW TO LOSE THINGS,” then “THE GIFT OF LOSING THINGS,” and at last “THE ART OF LOSING THINGS.” And here’s its first stanza, reproduced verbatim:

–This is by way of introduction. I really
want to introduce myself—I am such a
fantastic lly good at losing things
I think everyone shd. profit from my experiences.

The quest for publishing opportunities isn’t getting easier. But it’s getting more efficient for scientists and researchers—especially with a new tool that semantically analyzes articles in order to recommend journals those authors should submit to.

The last stanza of Albert Einstein’s poem, “On Spinoza’s Ethics,” as translated by Jonathan Ely:

You think his example would show us
What this doctrine can give humankind
My dear son, what ever were you thinking?
One must be born a nightingale
Trust not the comforting façade
One must be born sublime

Third draft of Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “Arrival at Santos”

Anonymous graphic artist Khalil, whose collaborative graphic novel, Zahra’s Paradise, explores the fate of one protester after the fraudulent elections of 2009: “We had a vague inkling that we were innovating and we were very empowered by the reactions that were instant. We were drawing things that had happened just a few weeks before. We were really moved and transported by the whole energy of what was happening in Iran and we became a sort of conduit for all those people trying to express themselves. We naturally and intuitively fell into that role. The reactions were sympathetic and supportive and universal. It was very gratifying; we had messages from a total of 151 countries.”

Find out here if you’re an unwitting committer of the Misleading Vividness fallacy (in other words—find out if you’re a poet), the Gambler’s Fallacy, the Appeal to Novelty, and many more.

You might have heard Whitman made to “sing the body electric” in a commercial for Levis. Now, a fitting response to that abuse.