What I Read This Week - 31st March

So it turns out that I read a lot this week, unlike last week. I also wrote a lot! And then on Thursday I had a meltdown because I couldn't write any more so I went and sat in the park looking out at the spires of Oxford feeling sorry for myself because it was hot and I was wearing long sleeves and tight jeans and I couldn't write any more. Later, after I had established that in spite of sitting in the park feeling sorry for myself for half an hour I still could not write any more, I listened to Robert Johnson with the bedroom window wide open (sorry, East Oxford) and had a nap. I don't know why any of you need to know any of this except that perhaps it helps explain why this week's selection of stuff is so apparently disparate. In my mind it all makes sense. - You've Already Forgotten Yesterday's Internet (Philip Bump at the Atlantic)

The web creates new shared points of reference every hour, every minute. The growth is exponential, staggering.

- Mail Supremacy: The newspaper that rules Britain (Lauren Collins at The New Yorker)

As he spoke, his cursor hovered over an image of AnnaLynne McCord, a young actress, pictured in extreme close-up with some pimples on her cheek, around which Mail Online had drawn a big red circle. I asked how he had decided to run the story. “Well, we all just looked at the picture and went ‘Yuck,’ ” Clarke said. “Look, she’s an actress in ‘90210,’ and she’s spotty.”

- John Jeremiah Sullivan and Geoff Dyer in Conversation

Dyer: I came to the mobile phone very late. So when I got one I noticed that… Sullivan: Your thumb was hurting? Dyer: That’s an example of, the sort of thing—we began by talking about that embarrassing stuff. Putting in the little observation that rings true for you, and the chances are the more stupid that observation is, the greater the chance other people will have noticed something similar.

- On Writing a Book (Frank Chimero)

I’ll always look at this project and judge it by its potential. I’m foolish in the same way we all are with the things we make: I’ll continually chase my tail and believe that the thing I’m producing can be better. I’ll never let it go, because all it ever needs is just one more thing. And then again, then that, again, forever.

(Ben sent me a link to this after I posted this.)

- The ___’s Daughter (Emily St. John Mandel at The Millions)

Even leaving those variations out, though, and deleting any instances where the same book appeared more than once in the search results, the number of The ___’s Daughter books out there is truly staggering.

Once I went back over my spreadsheet to remove duplications, I was left with 530 titles.

But I don’t mean to suggest that five hundred and thirty represents the total number of these books. Five hundred and thirty was just the arbitrary point where I decided to stop counting, because the project was starting to take too much time. I was only on page 88 of 200 pages of search results.

- The Wisdom of Gandalf for the Information Age (Michael Sacasas)

Our problem is that we tend to think of the passage from information to knowledge and on to wisdom as a series of aggregations. We accumulate enough information and we pass to knowledge and we accumulate enough knowledge and we pass to wisdom. The truth is that we pass to wisdom not by the aggregation of information or knowledge, both of which are available as never before; we pass to wisdom by remembering what we do not know. And this, in an age of information, seems to be the one thing we cannot keep in mind.

- Confirmed: The Internet Does Not Solve Global Inequality (Alexis Madrigal at the Atlantic)

Hope as we might, the Internet isn't a magic wand that makes the world more equal.

- Lena Dunham: from YouTube sensation to film and TV stardom (Emma Brockes at the Guardian)

The thing she took away from that first taste of fame on YouTube was "the discomfort that comes from being seen. Which is all we want, and yet, we want to be seen the way we want to be seen."

I had never heard of Lena Dunham until I saw last weekend's Guardian (should I have?). I read this over dinner last night. I thought it might annoy me, or at least make me jealous (is the fact that I'm not an über-hip young New Yorker who still lives with her parents holding me back?), but actually I'm just glad that people in their mid-20s are actually allowed a voice in the World.

- The importance of frustration in the creative process, animated (Jonah Lehrer via Brain Pickings)

Before we can find the answer — before we can even know the question — we must be immersed in disappointment, convinced that a solution is beyond our reach.

I'm generally wary of things that address "the creative process," but I did feel, after Thursday, that this was a timely point.