Thursday, August 04, 2011

Clicke, lege

As part of the desacralization of the world, we have moved from tolle, lege followed by a spiritual experience, to clicke, lege*, followed by amusement. Whether this is a diminishment or not is one of the points where the so-called New Atheists disagree with Nietzsche.

In the meantime: clicke, lege. You won't find God, but the following are all worth reading anyway:

• I began reading Curzio Malaparte's astonishing story "The Traitor" (translated by Walter Murch) under the misapprehension that it was a true story. At some point along the way I figured out it couldn't be. But I have to admit that I enjoyed it more thanks to the false belief that led me into it. Still, it is an utterly fabulous story -- a hilarious story in a black-humor vein. Highly recommended. If you only click one link in this post, make it this one.

Michael Moorcock on how to write a novel in three days. (via)

John Holbo talks about books about the history of reading. The part that stuck with me over the past month is this paragraph from Silent Reading and the Birth of the Narrator by Elspeth Jajdelska:
A change from reading aloud to skilled silent reading is important because it radically changes the underlying model of what writing and reading are. Reading aloud creates an identification between the writer and the reader. The reader is a speaker, the writer’s mouthpiece, with the writer’s words in his or her mouth. Silent reading creates a different relationship between writer and reader. Instead of identifying with the writer as a speaker of his or her words, the reader becomes an (internal) hearer of the writer’s words. So the move from reading aloud to reading silently involves a move from reading as speaking to reading as hearing, and from reading as declamation to reading as silent participation in an imaginary conversation between writer and reader. This is a radical change in the orientation of both writer and reader to the text.
Click through to read what Holbo has to say about that, and another book on a similar topic, too. The earlier post referenced therein is also worth reading.

Cool word: deepity, "term coined by Daniel Dennett in his 2009 speech to the American Atheists Institution conference. It refers to a statement that has (at least) two meanings; one that is true but trivial, and another that sounds profound, but is essentially false, or meaningless with respect to this deeper meaning, but would be "earth-shattering" if true."

• This is pretty much the whole thing, this paragraph:
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe. ceehiro.
...but this is the post that made it go viral, and it has lots of follow-up links trying (and mostly failing) to identify the source.

• For those who liked this post: how long do the events of Goodnight, Moon take? An astrophysicist investigates.

The shortest Choose-Your-Own-Adventure ever written.

Geoffry Pullum versus Strunk and White. Blood everywhere.

The Nobel Prize in Literature from an alternative universe. Y'know, the one where Tolstoy, Ibsen, Mark Twain, Henry James, Proust, Kafka, Borges and Philip K. Dick won it.

Atlas of True Names: maps with the etymological roots of names instead of the names themselves. Highly cool.

Uncomfortable plot summaries. Four samples:
FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF: Amoral narcissist makes world dance for his amusement.
LORD OF THE RINGS: Midget destroys stolen property.
RISKY BUSINESS: Privileged rich kid gets everything he wants with no consequences.
STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE: Religious extremist terrorists destroy government installation, killing thousands.
If you liked those, click through for loads more.

• Not to read, but to look at: really awesome art made of Chinese characters. Sample:
The characters at the bottom are, of course, the components of the art (if you don't see it, look at the woman's forehead and compare to the first character). Google translate it as "beautiful Jí mother" -- whether that's "beautiful Mother Jí" or "Jí's beautiful mother", I don't know. (This dictionary confirms that 姞 (Jí) is a family name, but otherwise gives no particular guidance.) At any rate, the rest are wonderful too, so clicke, vulticuláte**.

• Incidentally, the full iPhone/iPad app version of that dictionary is on sale this week. They also have a stunted version which is free (which is all I've tried).

• A second one to look at it: a very cool optical illusion.

• And one more just for looking: life in four bottles. Utterly brilliant.

Update: I added a few links after this was first posted.

Update 2: Mammothly stupid mistake about the Chinese corrected.

* Note bene: "clicke" is pulled out of thin air, not actual Latin, since I don't really know what verb the ancient Romans used to speak about following a link on the internet.

** My deep apologies to Mr. ------,*** my 9th & 10th grade Latin teacher, for this entire post. He was a much better teacher than I was a student, so the butchery of Latin in this post should not be laid at his feet.

*** Name omitted to avoid besmirching the innocent.

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