Liked Inside the archives — and mind — of sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick (Los Angeles Times)

Kaleidoscopic? Yes. Brain-bending? Without question. At the same time, where are we now if not in the world Dick made, a world of social media and virtual reality, screens and simulacra and avatars? Fake news, revisionist histories, internet hoaxes and deepfake videos: Ours is a society defined by its own artifice, which is what Dick was trying to tell us all along.

Liked How “Peanuts” Created a Space for Thinking (The New Yorker)

Charles Schulz’s beloved comic strip invited readers to contemplate the big picture on a small scale.

This essay is drawn from the anthology “The Peanuts Papers: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life,” edited by Andrew Blauner.
Liked From everyteen to annoying: are today’s young readers turning on The Catcher in the Rye? (the Guardian)

I’m closer now to 40 than to 17. I no longer read to find friends in literature – I read for the writing. So when I recently read the book for the fourth time, I saw something brand new and I think closer to what Salinger intended: a perfectly written portrait of an imperfect character. Every syllable sings. Much of what I saw in this fourth reading, I had completely missed before.

Read Brave New World – Wikipedia (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.)

Brave New World is a dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State of genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific developments in reproductive technologysleep-learningpsychological manipulation, and classical conditioning, that are combined to make a utopian society that goes challenged only by a single outsider. Huxley followed this book with a reassessment in essay form, Brave New World Revisited (1958), and with his final novel, Island (1962), the utopian counterpart. The novel is often compared to George Orwell‘s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).

I was inspired by a recent episode of Future Tense looking at Dystopian futures to read Brave New World. Rather than preferring one over the other, it feels like they both provide a particular tangent, without showing the whole circle. It is interesting to think about how Dave Eggars The Circle combines both of these perspectives.
Listened Prescient Predictions: 1984; Brave New World; and Network from Radio National

The dystopian best-seller 1984 was published exactly seventy years ago. Its influence has been profound. But does it really speak to today’s politico-cultural environment?

The dystopian best-seller 1984 was published exactly seventy years ago. Its influence has been profound. But does it really speak to today’s politico-cultural environment? Broadcaster Scott Stephens believes Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is a closer match.

Also, author and New York Times journalist David Itzoff talks us through another prescient piece of fiction, Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 original screenplay Network.

Antony Funnell leads a discussion into three dystopian predictions. The argument made is that although 1984 captures the challenges to truth and the surveillance state, The Brace New World captures the attention economy.
Bookmarked Oz Lit Teacher by an author
Narissa Leung shares a new project which involves sharing possible mentor texts. The concern is that although educators like Pernille Ripp share various suggestions, using them can overlook the local context. Some other useful sites to support searching for books include Kim Yeomans’ Wild About Books and Bianca Hewes’ Jimmy Reads Books. My only disappointment is that Leung is not collecting these in a central spot on the open web.
Bookmarked Was Shakespeare a Woman? (The Atlantic)

The authorship controversy, almost as old as the works themselves, has yet to surface a compelling alternative to the man buried in Stratford. Perhaps that’s because, until recently, no one was looking in the right place. The case for Emilia Bassano.

Elizabeth Winkler explores the authorship behind the work of William Shakespeare. She puts forward the case for Emilia Bassano. This lengthy piece provides an insight into exploring the past and why history is interpretative.
Liked What Is an Australian National Literature and Who Creates It? (Literary Hub)

Here’s a crazy thought. Could it be that whiteness, for David Malouf, is both blindingness and camouflage? That out of temperament, intuition, reflex, survival and ambition, he has suppressed his brownness—as his father suppressed his Arabic—in order to “pass” as white? This sounds preposterous, I know. And I’ll probably get in trouble for it. But the thought, once thought, is hard to unthink.

This is an extract from Writers on Writers: Nam Le on David Malouf. Published by Black Inc. in partnership with State Library Victoria and the University of Melbourne.
Replied to The Mueller Report Is Part Spy Thriller, Part Game of Thrones—With Footnotes (Slate Magazine)

Is it frivolous to evaluate the Mueller report’s entertainment value? Isn’t the legitimacy of the Trump administration enabling the cruelest abuses at the nation’s borders and threatening our democratic institutions? It is, but I’d argue that it makes sense to examine everything pertaining to the Trump administration in this light because Trump doesn’t operate under an ethos of governance, or even under an ethos of business. The only thing he is good at is entertainment; it’s what got him elected and has allowed him to commandeer the news cycle for four years.

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. I find it interesting to consider the Mueller report as a piece of literature. At the very least it opens up the interpretative nature of it all.
Liked How The Very Hungry Caterpillar Became a Classic (The Atlantic)

Part of why both kids and parents love The Very Hungry Caterpillar is because it’s an educational book that doesn’t feel like a capital-E Educational book. Traditionally, children’s literature is a didactic genre: “It teaches something,” Martin says, “but the best children’s books teach without kids knowing that they’re learning something.” In The Very Hungry Caterpillar, she adds, “you learn the days of the week. You learn colors. You learn the fruits. You learn junk-food names. In the end, you learn a little bit about nutrition, too: If you eat a whole bunch of junk food, you’re not going to feel that great.” Yet, crucially, none of the valuable information being presented ever feels “in your face,” Martin says.

Liked Toni Morrison on ‘Beloved’ (Shondaland)

Beloved originated as a general question, and was launched by a newspaper clipping. The general question (remember, this was the early eighties) centered on how — other than equal rights, access, pay, etc. — does the women’s movement define the freedom being sought? One principal area of fierce debate was control of one’s own body — an argument that is as rife now as it was then. Many women were convinced that such rights extended to choosing to be a mother, suggesting that not being a mother was not a deficit and choosing motherlessness (for however long) could be added to a list of freedoms; that is, one could choose to live a life free of and from child- bearing and no negative or value judgment need apply.

An excerpt from the celebrated author’s latest book, “The Source of Self-Regard.”
Liked 10 Contemporary “Dickensian” Novels (Literary Hub)

So, despite the fact that it’s often inaccurate and reductive and possibly immoral, I understand why we like to call novels “Dickensian.” Over 200 years after the writer’s death, we’re just looking to recapture the feeling his canonical works gave us in some of our contemporary literature. If that sounds like something you’re interested in, some suggestions below.

Bookmarked The Trouble With Autism in Novels by an author (nytimes.com)

The disorder is poorly understood. Should novelists be able to make it mean whatever they want?

Marie Myung-Ok Lee reflects on the place of autism within literature and discusses some of the issues with this.

The crux of the issue is that with autism there is often, not metaphorically but literally, a lack of voice, which renders the person a tabula rasa on which a writer can inscribe and project almost anything: Autism is a gift, a curse, super intelligence, mental retardation, mystical, repellent, morally edifying, a parent’s worst nightmare. As a writer, I say go ahead and write what you want. As a parent, I find this terrifying, given the way neurotypical people project false motives and feelings onto the actions of others every day.

Interestingly, Myung-Ok Lee does not mention Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I remember reading Haddon’s thoughts on the matter in a review:

I think it’s true there are two types of kids as school. One type probably breezes through school like gazelles across the veldt. For the more troubled types on the edge of the playground, how you get from one day to the next is a mystery. All writers come from the latter, because only if you’re in that group does the working of the human mind become an object of interest.”

Liked Opinion | The Writer Who Destroyed an Empire (nytimes.com)

All this would give the writer great satisfaction. But though feted and exploited by questionable allies, Solzhenitsyn should be remembered for his role as a truth-teller. He risked his all to drive a stake through the heart of Soviet communism and did more than any other single human being to undermine its credibility and bring the Soviet state to its knees.

Liked Meet the Man Who Introduced Jacques Derrida to America (Literary Hub)

The lore around Macksey and his library has an air of myth—some alumni describe knocking over a sheet of paper to discover original correspondence with D.H. Lawrence (who died the year before Macksey was born), while others swear there was an original Picasso sketch in his bathroom at one time. Four-foot Chinese scrolls, tiny model skeletons, antique theater binoculars. The valuable pieces are no longer in the house; they have been locked up in Special Collections on campus. One time during class, I myself picked up the nearest book and discovered it was an inscribed advance copy of his friend Oliver Sacks’ book, Seeing Voices. The objects in his house speak to his interests, which is to say he is interested in everything.