I plan to revive this blog for 2012. I’m still writing slowly, but two or three potential posts are now gradually accreting on my hard drive. In the meantime, here’s a links post:
Here’s Roger Ebert’s list of the best films of 2011. I’m linking to this mostly in order to quote this observation:
…I believe the more specific a film is about human experience, the more universal it is. On the other hand, movies “for everybody” seem to be for nobody in particular.
I think this is just as true of books, and music, and just art in general.
At The Rumpus, a conversation about the movie The Most Dangerous Game (imdb) that turns into a discussion of the difference between trivia and knowledge.
Gareth Rees on deciding what standards to use when talking about art, with a focus on Greg Egan. Rees’s argument doesn’t convince me–the first half of the post compares completely different art forms with completely different functions, but the second half compares books to other books, which is, I’d argue, completely different:
The science fiction writer Greg Egan is another pertinent case. Judged by the standards of the literary novel, Egan’s works fall far short: his prose is dry and impersonal; his characters carry out their function in the story but no more; his plots are often episodic and lack dramatic conflict or resolution; he has a tin ear when it comes to satire. But all of that can be forgiven because he brings to his work a unique interest in the character of physical law.
That may be true, but it’s hard not to wonder why a novel can’t provide interest in the character of physical law and have lifelike characters, beautiful prose, and well-crafted plots. I’ve always wanted to like Egan’s work, but the weird affectlessness of his stories has always proved an insurmountable barrier.
That said, I think Rees’s post is worth reading. (Via)
American Scientist on the problem with Freakonomics and simple-minded statistical-cherry-picking contrarianism.
Unfortunately, having left these URLs lying around for so long, I no longer recall how I found some of them. I’ll have to do better with this so that I can include “via” links.