Well, it’s officially Fall. While it doesn’t seem like most of the country feels the cool, crisp, breezes yet, LA is finally seeing a bit of a cool-off.
This poem, by Kwame Alexander (for The Undefeated) was making the rounds again this weekend. As it should. If we are to begin to heal from 20 years of increasing polarization according to arbitrary parties … we need to listen to each other. Really listen. Listen to the silent speech as well. Engage.
My week in reading
Unseen (Will Trent #7) by Karin Slaughter
Not my favorite of the series. Slaughter always delivers keen insights into the human mind, the joy and the depravity.
Jane Austen, The Secret Radical by Helena Kelly
Kelly is a professor of classics and English Literature at the University of Oxford. The most surprising thing about this book is the accessibility. Academics aren’t particularly known for being able to communicate to people outside the academy. Refreshing. This is a book for Jane Austen lovers; for the once, current, and future English Lit crowd; and readers everywhere. Kelly attempts to put readers into the minds of readers at the time of publication, or writing. Context is key. Pride and Prejudice can remain a light hearted romance, or a reader can dig a little deeper into some of the choices Austen made as a writer to see the political and social context. I won’t give this a full 5 star rating, as Kelly does sometimes talk down to the reader. It doesn’t happen often, yet when it does it’s blindingly snobbish.
Accessible. Enlightening. Recommended.
The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne
I’m hooked. I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of Andrew Mayne before … he’s everywhere. He podcasts, he’s a magician, he acts … and clearly, he writes well-paced, engaging mystery/thriller novels. The Naturalist is about a scientist who gets obsessed with data that he sees as pointing to a serial killer. The serial killer hides his kills as bear attacks. There is some of the science that’s wonky – seriously Bones has us all thinking how easy it is to identify ethnicity from a skull … it’s more complicated than looking. Then there is some really great stuff about bioinformatics that is on point. The mystery … it’s really compelling. I couldn’t put this book down. I’ll definitely read more.
Recommended. Grisly (haha). Satisfying.
Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art by Virginia Heffernan
I’ve been reading this is slow bursts for a few months. I adore Heffernan’s writing. Magic and Loss is a love letter, a manifesto, a call to look at the complexity and hope of the digital expansiveness that is the Internet.
Loved this. Highly Recommended. Excellent Prose. Delightful. Hopeful.
Valerian: The New Future Trilogy by Jean-Claude Mézières
While I want to be a comic lover, I’m really picky. I didn’t love this. Too sexist perhaps? That being said, I’m so glad to have read it and explored the art that inspired one of my favorite film makers, Luc Besson. The last piece of the “trilogy” is set on a planet with flying cars, and it’s amazing to see how the images wormed their way into Besson’s head in The Fifth Element, one of the best sci-fi films ever.
Meh. Unless you like Luc Besson, or Star Wars.
Posts from around the digital realm
A.V. Club: New HBO adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor’s 2010 novel Who Fears Death!
MSNBC: Ta-Nehisi Coates on Trump, his new book, and the 2016 election
The New York Times Magazine: Claudia Rankine distilling where we’re at into an amazing piece on racism in the U.S., on Charlottesville, on history, on memory, on the KKK
Foreign Affairs: Niall Ferguson on the reality of social networks
CNN: Analysis by Chris Cillizza on Trump’s condemnation of the NFL. The conclusion is terrifying.
The Guardian: on pain and the possibility of acupuncture, fascinating (hopeful?)
In the Middle: Dorothy Kim on the responsibility of professors to disarm white supremacy – in this case teaching medieval studies
Digital Pedagogy Lab: an older piece, but new to me, on twitter as public sphere
Yeah, so we were busy this week. Here is just some of the content we produced:
The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich becomes a jumping off point for a conversation about discretion in the law, about intergenerational trauma (affecting families AND communities).
Racism & Sports. Jody Armour and Jason Reid discuss antiracist protests in the age of capitalism and push back against progressives.
A frank and enlivened discussion of how even terrible films (my words) inform the public discourse on politics, and delving into media literacy and why it matters.
Marissa Gluck, principal of the design-cum-civic engagement non-profit Design East of La Brea, or de LaB, on empathy and storytelling.