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1. Do Words Hurt Worse than Sticks and Stones? On Public Television They Do

Speaking of television interviews: who remembers Lillian Hellman and Mary McCarthy on The Dick Cavett Show? It happened in January 1980, in the lead-up to Hustler Magazine vs. Falwell, and the tone (not to mention the frequency) of writers appearing on public talk shows has certainly changed in the time since. The longtime feud between Hellman and McCarthy, more recently known in the form of Nora Ephron’s play, Imaginary Friends, came to a head when McCarthy said of Hellman: “every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.’”

Just Words Hellman filed a libel suit, the subject of Just Words: Lillian Hellman, Mary McCarthy, and the Failure of Public Conversation in America, by Alan Ackerman, published this week. Ackerman explores the roles of truth and lying in American public life and considers why civil discourse seems beyond our reach. In the words of Irving Howe: “it’s not just two old ladies involved in a catfight.” Even Norman Mailer, who already had a history of being on The Dick Cavett Show after fighting with Gore Vidal, Janett Flanner and Cavett himself, got involved by writing an article for the New York Times, called “An Appeal to Lillian Hellman and Mary McCarthy.” “Libel”, writes Ackerman, “is an area of law that is itself characteristized by conflict over problems that have proven impossible to resolve, such as the status of the ‘truth,’ the definition of ‘malice,’ and what does or doesn’t count as ‘public.’” Hellman’s $2.5 million lawsuit against McCarthy, Cavett, and PBS kicked up a scandal controversy over public conversation and self-expression and continued until her death in 1984. Yet, for a variety of reasons, we still debate the question: what can you say?

2. Tonight on The Colbert Report: Timothy Garton Ash

Facts Are Subversive This evening, Stephen Colbert will talk with Timothy Garton Ash, author of Facts Are Subversive: Political Writing from a Decade Without a Name on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report. Garton Ash, professor of European studies at Oxford, has written extensively on modern political history, notably covering Communism and the 1989 Revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe, and his syndicated writing continues to appear in The Guardian and the New York Review of Books. His book, just out in paperback, explores the “oughts”, “the thousands”—whatever colloquial phrase we’ve decided upon—applying his political acumen to the international issues and affairs of the last decade. From 9/11 to the Orange Revolution and various global statuses of Islam to the election of Barack Obama, there was a lot that just passed by us without a common name, even in an age of rising digital interconnectivity. Check it out tonight on Comedy Central.

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3. Twas the Night Before Xmas (in July) and the Yale Press Log is stirring...

about our new location!

We've got a completely new look and format that we can't wait to show you!

YPL Logo 2 In July, the theme is Global and International Studies, and after the first half of 2011, there is plenty to recount. New books on Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, and southern Africa are at the center of our political discussions, and a new take on the history of the veil surrounds current controversies on Islamic women's dress in America, Europe, and the Middle East. We'll have early looks at our Fall showcase of religion, religious art, and literature in translation titles, featuring upcoming highlights from our Margellos World Republic of Letters series. More on the legacies of American Modernism, with new Icons of America titles and updates on books about Georgia O'Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz, and Gertrude Stein. And there's a host of museum exhibitions traveling the globe, with our catalogues waiting right here at home.

YaleLogosmallblue Plus, we've got more author posts and features like the 3@2 interviews, promotional offers, new columns, and a special announcement about the upcoming year!

Be sure to bookmark the new location http://yalepress.wordpress.com for more news and updates on authors, books, publishing, museums, awards, contests, events, media and reading!

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4. A Little Less Unknown: Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan Bob Dylan does not want us to know who he is. He recently turned seventy, and if no one has figured him out by now, nobody probably ever will. The Andy Warhol Factory’s Screen Test of Bob Dylan, filmed in 1965 attempts to get close to him, figure out what is underneath the voice and lyrics. He sits impatiently, looking down most of the time, unsmiling. He could be anyone, which is really the point of being Bob Dylan. As David Yaffe points out in Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown, the screen test demonstrates that “[b]eing Bob Dylan has apparently already gotten old.”

Yaffe does not set out to find Bob Dylan’s core, but instead gives us a series of portraits that peel back enough layers to understand what the various cores look like. One of these layers is Dylan through the medium of film, which includes numerous documentaries and an appearance singing in a Victoria’s Secret commercial. (The oddness of the commercial diminishes—slightly—after reading this report which claims that in the same year he made Andy Warhol’s film, Dylan said “ladies’ undergarments” might be the only thing that would entice him to sell out.) Even in the cases where the singer was not directly involved in a movie, he still used the production to further complicate his image.

He wrote, directed, and starred in his own a movie, which still has no official video or DVD release because the four-hour-long Renaldo and Clara was, as Joan Baez called it, “a giant mess of a home movie. What makes it worthwhile to Yaffe is that Dylan appeared as another self-constructed version of himself, even if the rest was a surrealist disaster. Documentary makers have tried to show that in film, as in concert, the musician “had a black self, a symbolist poet self, an outlaws self, a misogynistic matinee idol self.” More recently, he gave full reign to the director of I’m Not There, allowing a wide assortment of actors, including a woman and an African American, to add new representation to both his real-life and onscreen character. He is as much one person’s reaction to him as he is all the faces he has willingly presented to his fans.

5. To London, with Love: Bloody Mary Summer

Ivan Lett

When Emperor Charles V was elected Holy Roman Emperor in June 1519, his influential position became incredibly important for the strength of his family. Only three years before, he had inherited the vast lands of the Spanish Empire, which already spanned the far ends of the globe, and within Europe itself, he personally ruled over Spain, the Low Countries, Austria, and Naples. Charles’ aunt, Catherine of Aragon, had married into the Royal House of Tudor in England, one of the few rival monarchies to Charles’ Habsburg power. At first, she married the eldest prince, Arthur, but after his untimely death, King Henry VII arranged for Catherine to marry his new heir, the eventual Henry VIII, as his first wife.

Mary I We all know the legends of Henry VIII and his six wives, but I always found a sad spot in my heart for poor Catherine. Call me an Hispanophile, but she was in no easy position. After six pregnancies, only Princess Mary survived, and Henry would stop at nothing to have a male heir. By 1525, Catherine, already five years Henry’s senior, was over forty and seemed unlikely to become pregnant again. When Henry tried to pressure the Pope into granting an annulment, his envoy was prevented from gaining access because the Pope was Emperor Charles’ prisoner. Naturally, he was on his aunt’s side, but Henry was determined to prevail. Enter: the English Reformation.

So it’s no wonder that these events are the background for a chapter called “Dysfunctional Family” in John Edwards’ new biography, Mary I: England’s Catholic Queen. The conflict between Mary’s parents framed the most significant events of her life, and with a particular focus on Mary's religious faith, which was at the heart of everything she did, Edwards works to bring this controversial Queen into perspective. Most often remembered for her attempts to reverse the rise of Protestantism in England, Mary’s reign saw the persecution and execution of religious dissenters. After thoroughly and exhaustively researching the Spanish archives, attempting to sympathize with Mary’s Catholicism, Edwards applies his knowledge to casting Mary in terms of religious rather than exclusively personal decisions. It’s not that he exalts Mary—you don’t get the name Bloody Mary for nothing—and there is little that can be done to overturn nearly five centuries of bad opinion, but he gives a new way of how we can see the violent burnings and actions of her reign. He focuses more on Mary’s short marriage to Phillip II of Spain, Charles V’s son, the clergy, and the nature of her Catholic rule. After all, Mary, Phillip, and her administrators did truly believe that what they were doing was right in the name of God and their Christian faith.

The book is coming out in September, so enjoy your summertime Bloody Mary before you give pause to think about its namesake. Oh, who am I kidding?: Tomato, Tomato.

(On a final note, Henry VIII’s birthday was the same as Charles’ election: June 28. Just how intertwined could these two families be?)

 

Ivan Lett is Online Marketing Coordinator for Yale University Press.  

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6. Modern Styles and Methods in Maine Moderns

Paul Strand, a friend of Alfred Stieglitz and his wife, Georgia O’Keeffe, visited O’Keeffe while she was away in New Mexico. Stieglitz had written O’Keeffe on June 27, 1931 from Lake George, NY, “…Strand will add to his trophies of photography. What a chance he has. He ought to do some great work this year after the criticism I gave him.” Georgia then wrote Alfred on July 10, “Strand didn’t like the ‘paint quality’ in one of my best paintings—Made me want to knock his hat off or do something to him to muss him up—The painting certainly has no resemblance to a photograph.” Who was this friend admired by Stieglitz, considered “the founding father of American modernism,” and brazen enough to criticize O’Keeffe’s work?

Maine Moderns Strand was a member of what Libby Bischof and Susan Danly refer to as the “Stieglitz circle” in their Maine Moderns: Art in Seguinland, 1900-1940, which accompanies a show of the same name on view this summer at the Portland Museum of Art, Maine.  Seguinland, a resort area on the quiet coast of Maine, attracted this small circle of modernist artists (which was never actually joined by Stieglitz but was always encouraged by him) in the early twentieth century. These painters, sculptors, and—most “modernly”—photographers used the forests, beaches, and villages to inform and inspire their work. Strand was actually one of the last to join the summer vacationers, who included Clarence H. White, Gertrude Käsebier, Max Weber, John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Marguerite Zorach, Gaston Lachaise, and William Zorach. Stieglitz promoted the work of the artists, especially hoping to place photography firmly on the level of other art forms.

Bischof and Danly showcase a beautiful selection of the Seguinland’s modernist work, which used techniques already popular in European and American cities in an entirely new setting. A gelatin silver print by Strand, Cobweb in the Rain, belongs to his series of close-ups of natural forms including driftwood and plants on the beaches he visited during the summer. White beads of water drape across the bursts of leaves in this photograph. Seguinland proved welcoming to all the artists’ cameras, including that of F. Holland Day. His Youth in a Rocky Landscape shows a boy, arms outstretched, on a cliff, calling back the lost Arcadia. Maine Moderns brings together these pieces from a group who did not consider themselves a school of artists but friends enjoying the life of rural New England. As Strand wrote Stieglitz, “The weeks in Maine were . . . perfect days of work and play. I did much work and had much joy in doing it.”

 

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7. Touring Rome’s Past

Whispering City R.J.B. Bosworth’s Whispering City: Rome and Its Histories is as much of a guidebook to Rome’s recent past as it is a history. It manages to keep us partially conscious of Rome’s present while discovering the city’s struggles during the past two centuries. The maps of modern sections of the city that begin each chapter are the first hints of the close proximity of Rome’s history to visitors’ experiences today. Although the book takes us from the 1800s to the present, Bosworth first focuses the reader on a small section of the modern city, rather like a tour guide, before delving back into history. He may lead us into a food and flower market, ask us to notice a certain monument – most intriguingly, “a dark statue of a cowled figure” – and then explain that here is where Giordano Bruno, judged a heretic by the Inquisition, was burned at the stake. Or he shows us a beautiful square with a cooling fountain and a church bursting with art, only to have us examine a plaque in remembrance of two patriots who supported a united nation and were subsequently sentenced to death by a nineteenth-century pope.

Bosworth acts as a guide who has researched every loose end in the city. Framing his tour is the struggle by the obvious factions – the Roman Catholic Church, the nationalists, the fascists. However, the periods for his literary tour group, recreated with astonishing detail, are decidedly less obvious and are the heart of our excursion. While the memories of Garibaldi or Mussolini still shout even into the present decade, Bosworth makes us stop to listen closely to those unknown Romans “whose whispers can still be heard in the modern city.”  For instance, we hear from the patriot Luigi Pianciani, who dared to criticize Pope Leo XII, the pope who ordered the deaths of the two previously mentioned patriots. We hear the brief but important voices of nineteenth-century reformers like sociologist Domenico Orano and educationalist Maria Montessori, who attempted to publicize the extent of crime and poverty in the suburbs of Rome. Such names may be nearly silent in the immense crowd that is the city’s history, but we find that the smallest interruptions on our tour bring us closer to finding the “real” face of Rome.  

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8. Underneath the Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign About a hundred years ago in Los Angeles, some of its boarding houses hung signs that read, “No Jews, actors, or dogs allowed.” Movies entertained the lower classes only, and major film companies produced in Philadelphia. When Charlie Chaplin built the first big studio in Hollywood in the early twentieth century, some people feared property values were going to drop. Leo Braudy’s The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy and Reality of an American Icon explores not only the history behind the Californian landmark but also the improbable rise to fame of both it and its town.

Hollywood today, of course, signifies much more than a physical place. For the international community, the glamorous onscreen lifestyles constitute a large portion of other nation’s perceptions of the United States. If “Hollywood” is on the evening news, it’s because somebody’s off to rehab, court, or the altar (again). What’s actually being shown on the screen, and the companies that produced the reels, seem to only comprise half of what the name means. How much did the Hollywood sign have to do with creating an umbrella term for blockbuster sales, actors’ private lives, and anywhere the red carpet is unrolled?

Quite a bit, as Braudy explains, along with its supporters, luck and aggressive marketing. Oddly enough, the Hollywood sign was not meant to lure actors or directors.  Most of us would agree with Anita Loos’s description of the town’s name as “the epitome of glamour, sex, and sin in their most delectable forms.” Developers of “Hollywoodland,” however, initially advertised the neighborhoods as family-oriented. Hoping to draw recent immigrants away from the overcrowded, unhealthy East Coast cities, developers in the 1920s promoted the rural area as safe for the children. Yet Braudy tells us that the movie business was already burgeoning at the time, suggesting that the advertisers were engaging in their own brand of Hollywood illusion.

The sign and the town have each experienced rebranding, changing with the decades’ demands. The former changed from painted wood to white metal, the wording purposefully switching from “Hollywoodland” to “Hollywood” to “Hollyweed” (temporarily). Temperance activists, producers, and classic and classless actors have contributed to the aura of the latter. Both have been what people needed them to be: perfect for a place and a people dedicated to selling fantasy.

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9. Rediscovering Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome

There is a certain meta quality to uncovering wayward pieces of art: it is an art itself to uncover and identify a centuries-old painting with its original artist. The sharp eyes of conservationists and scholars today help celebrate the legacy of artists past with each new discovery and identification, not to mention the effect it has on the value of individual paintings. Most recently in the news, as reported by the Guardian in London, Clovis Whitfield has uncovered an unknown portrait by Caravaggio, dating approximately to the year 1600 when the Italian artist was at his height.

Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome Very few of Caravaggio’s works survive, and yet his considerable influence on Baroque painters across Europe is the subject of a new exhibition, “Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome” at the National Gallery of Canada, traveling to the Kimbell Art Museum later this fall. The identification of the painting in question, a portrait of Saint Augustine that surfaced in a private collection, is a major addition to Caravaggio’s oeuvre and is reproduced for the first time in print in the exhibition’s accompanying catalog. The authors, David Franklin and Sebastian Schütze, have remarked that “[w]hat looked like an anonymous 17th-century painting revealed its artistic qualities after restoration,”; noteworthy because“[i]t shows a side of Caravaggio perhaps that is not as drastic and antagonistic as usual.” For those interested in the presence of books and writing in works of art, the painting “is considered the model for [a particular aesthetic] of books and pens,” writes Francesca Cappelletti in her contribution to the catalog. The lowered eyes and concentrated gaze are imitated by artists like Jusepe de Ribera and Bartolomeo Cavarozzi, both of whom worked in Spain and studied in Rome in the period shortly following Caravaggio’s untimely death in 1610. They would have seen the painting as it changed hands and homes amongst the patron Giustiniani family, and it is likely that other painters, such as Orazio Borgianni and Nicolas Régnier, were directly influenced by it as well. This new side of Caravaggio’s work gives us further insight into the world of artists he left behind, many recast in their relationship to this central figure of sixteenth-century Rome.

10. The Magic of Milk

Milk A peasant’s utopia, as imagined in Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, includes a mountain of grated Parmesan cheese. Peasants do nothing else except make macaroni and ravioli all day long in the imagined fairyland. In the book of Exodus, the Promised Land is one of “milk and honey.” And according to Hinduism, during the creation of the world, the Cow of Plenty emerged during the Churning of the Ocean – literally the changing of the white ocean into butter. Deborah Valenze explains in Milk: A Local and Global History, how the “elixir of immortality” changed from a staple of the gods to a staple of nutrition textbooks.

The Cow of Plenty is one of many sacred females associated with the “virtuous white liquor’s” powers. Valenze shows us various forms of ancient heavens and their inhabitants’ fascinating relationships with a Great Mother, or a “benevolent cow,” or a milk goddess. Isis, most famously a goddess of ancient Egypt, was “the source of the milk of life,” and the Virgin Mary modeled fecundity and piety for medieval women. Juno, the Roman queen of the gods, created the Milky Way when her breast milk was scattered accidentally when she woke up to a rather awkward situation: her husband, Jupiter, had attempted to feed his illegitimate son, Hercules, at her breast while she slept. Interestingly, Jupiter’s Greek counterpart, Zeus, nursed from the goat Althea as a baby.

Although “the culture of milk” lost some of its mystical qualities through history, in its secular role it was (and is) no less “magical.” Doctors admired it through the centuries, from George Cheyne’s milk diet (at one point the physician and writer weighed 448 pounds) in the early eighteenth century to the Victorians’ prescriptions of milk-soaked biscuits for their patients. The Dutch came the closest to actually reproducing Dairy-land here on earth during, appropriately enough, their Golden Age. With Cheesetopia finally realized, Dutch painting actually depicted the “mountains of food” – which included if not Parmesan at least other forms – that “stood as bountiful evidence of God’s providence.”

Even today, Valenze points out, milk still satisfies “[t]he wish for a miracle food” by some foodie camps. Its constant presence in our “dairy-rich Western countries,” she notes, is just as extraordinary as the food itself. We may not be able to produce endless quantities of butter, which was Saint Brigid’s first recorded miracle, but perhaps that’s just because mass-production has already beat us to the magic.

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11. Bookplates, Personalized for the Occasion

The printing press was a revolution for the written word.  Its creation can be compared to the invention of the internet today.  Besides the obvious good that came from being able to mass produce books, it also brought about a new art form that is often forgotten: the bookplate, a tiny piece of art used to claim ownership over a book.

Ex Libris In Yale University Press’s new book, Ex Libris: The Art of Bookplates, Martin Hopkinson, former Curator of Prints at the Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, arranges a selection of 100 bookplates from the British Museum’s extensive collection. Already featured in NPR’s “Indie Booksellers Target Summer’s Best Reads”, and in an article for the Wall Street Journal explaining a few of the bookplates, such as Aubrey Beardsley’s beautiful art nouveau stylized print for John Lumsden Propert, the book takes its name from the inscription seen on most plates “Ex Libris,” meaning “from the book of.” As very personal marks of book ownership, bookplates were much less commercial and meant to appeal mainly to the owner.  Because of this, many of the plates use a variety of imagery and symbols not usually seen together, and this use of odd combinations often formed puns on the owner’s name.  For instance, William Harcourt Hooper’s woodcut bookplate for J.C. Brough shows a “jay” bird flying over a “sea” which is shown to “be rough”—literally “jay sea be rough.”

Looking at these bookplates as pieces of printed history, one can’t help but wonder if they can have a place in modern society.  Although some may argue that the mass production of books has led to a decline in their worth and thus less of a need for intricate bookplates, perhaps the electronic world of books could benefit from such an art.  In our present and crucial juncture in publishing methods, Hopkinson’s book reminds us of these images in a way that poses the issue of whether bookplates could be resurrected as graphic representations of ownership on e-readers.  Definitely an important addition to any summer reading list, perhaps Ex Libris will also inspire you to create your own modern version of the bookplate.

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12. Charles Dickens’ Extreme Vacation

Summer vacationers all over America right now are camping for a weekend, spending the afternoon at the pool, or if they are adventurous, going snorkeling. Most people probably are not embarking on a dangerous transatlantic voyage and leaving their children for a six-month tour of a foreign country, but that’s exactly what Charles Dickens and his wife, Catherine, did in 1841.

Charles Dickens Michael Slater’s critically-acclaimed biography Charles Dickens, now out in paperback, details the author’s nineteenth-century-style extreme vacation. A wooden-paddle steamer, the S.S. Britannia, took Charles and Catherine from Liverpool to Boston, running aground temporarily off Canada’s coast. After staying in Boston, they then traveled through Worcester, Massachusetts; Hartford, Connecticut; New York; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Fredericksburg, Virginia; and Richmond, Virginia…all in just the first two months. The couple seems to have seen much of the United States through the windows or over the railings of steamboats, trains, canal boats, and stage-coaches. Their fellow passengers and they found the canal boat so uncomfortable that Dickens had to hypnotize one of the women to sleep. He also would have disagreed with Mark Twain about the wonders of the Mississippi after his subsequent steamboat trip.

Before the tour, Slater notes, Dickens “borrowed a copy of George Catlin’s Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians…He was evidently hoping to meet some Native Americans.” After only one chance encounter with Choctaw chief Pitchlynn, “he had romantically to imagine the Native Americans as they once picturesquely roamed in their ‘solitudes.’” Both the situation of the Native Americans and the African slaves disgusted him, and he shortened his stay in the South because of the latter.

We might recognize Niagara Falls as a “normal” tourist destination, and maybe West Point Military Academy to be generous, but the rest of Dickens’s sightseeing may appear a little bizarre. Because of his interest in the social welfare of the lower classes, he visited prisons, asylums, hospitals, workhouses, and the Lowell factories. He made these “inspections” of various institutions partly to report in later writings and partly to escape the constant eyes upon him.

The celebrity author had made the trip “to get materials for writing about America but here was America first writing about him!” Then, the British writer grew hostile towards the American media, later denouncing its “mortal poison” and claiming it had an “evil eye in every house.” One newspaper had noted that Dickens’ “‘rather yellow teeth’ showed that he did not avail himself of ‘Teaberry Tooth Wash’…the virtues of which…were described elsewhere in the paper.” While Dickens traveled extensively both throughout England and the rest of Europe, he may have never been so intensely scrutinized as in America, when one paper took the time not only to notice his gold watch and shaggy brown coat, but that his “eyeballs completely filled their sockets.”  

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13. Trending T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land” App and Volumes of Letters Coming to the US

Check out the news on GalleyCat: “The Waste Land” app is now the most popular iPad book app, after only being released last week. It might seem unsurprising for a poem that was literally carried in the breast pockets of literati and college students on both sides of the Atlantic throughout the 1920s; we have new ways of enjoying literary trends nowadays.

Letters of T.S Whether you’re still serving yourself on print and paper or e-readers, at the end of summer, we’re simultaneously publishing the first two volumes of The Letters of T.S. Eliot in our US market. The first is a revised edition with new material made available since the 1988 publication, and the second volume has never been published in the US before. Each has approximately 1,400 letters, a stunning Who’s Who of correspondence that includes Jean Cocteau, F. Scott Fitzgerald, E. M. Forster, André Gide, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Wyndham Lewis, C. K. Scott Moncrieff, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, Bertrand Russell, Edmund Wilson, Leonard Woolf, Virginia Woolf, and many moreedited by the poet’s widow, Valerie Eliot, and University of York professor Hugh Haughton, spanning Eliot’s career from 1898 until 1922 when “The Waste Land” was published, and secondly from 1923-1925.

If you can’t find your copy of the poem, we’ve got that a book for that, even annotated, by the eminent Lawrence Rainey.

14. Richard Selzer's Diary of Loonies

Selzer, Diary Sterling Memorial Library looks like a Gothic cathedral. It has the vaulted ceiling, the stained-glass windows, and the secret garden. Yet this library, Richard Selzer says, “is chock full of loonies, of whom I am one.” A former surgeon and professor of surgery at Yale School of Medicine, Selzer has enjoyed critical success as an author as well: so much that last year, Abaton, the literary journal of Des Moines University, began awarding the Selzer Prize for Writing. His new book, Diary, consisting of excerpts from his own diary spanning sixteen years, several states and countries, and endless, random interactions with the possibly (and the certainly) insane, begins roughly where his previous autobiography, Down from Troy, ends.

“Dick” is a self-aware, local celebrity in and around Yale who assumes that his world is full of crazy people. One day he writes that he “[met] loony N. in the library. He was looking even more haunted, gaunt, and tormented than usual.” Barely ten pages in, F.Q., another anonymous character, has “indentified three of the six” members who unconsciously belong to Selzer’s “Ministry of Loonies.”

A later entry describes Selzer as “having all sorts of loony problems,” including with “a forty-seven-year-old Chinese-Canadian psychotic” who believes he has “a keen romantic interest” in her. “M.,” as he calls his would-be lover, is manic-depressive and “seething with passion” for him. She sends him daily e-mails, some of which “average seven thousand words,” and calls the library looking for him” until he requests that she only contact him once a month. This request, of course, only increases her passion—and her emails.

One is not quite sure at first whether the people Selzer describes as “loonies” are actually crazy or not, especially after he describes himself coming home from the grocery store with “a length of turkey sausage, a pineapple, a frozen octopus, six large beets, and four artichokes” –especially after he decides, “About the octopus, I refuse to be modest…Even the creature would have been delighted to offer himself for such a feast.”

He treats everyone—“normal” people, the mentally handicapped, and himself—with the same direct tone, openly admitting to enjoying shocking people. It is clear he likes to tease his readers with uncertainty. “Why did I give [M.] my e-mail address?” he asks,  making us question why he then continues the correspondence, which includes phone calls and visits. Eventually he assures us that “clothing dislikes [him]” and when dressed he resembles “fossils of feathered dinosaurs…bones, beak, and feathers in need of arrangement.” We might wonder if his feathers are not more like M.’s than the normal bird’s.

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15. Bored Yet This Summer?

Boredom The critics have weighed in: at the Boston Globe, at the Chronicle Review, even with a slideshow on Slate.com, and the consensus is that Peter Toohey’s Boredom: A Lively History is anything but boring! (You can imagine how it came to have such a subtitle from the “Book Bench” interview with The New Yorker.)

This morning at 11AM EDT, Toohey will appear on WBUR’s On Point, along with A.O. Scott and Jonah Lehrer, to talk about what boredom has to offer—why it’s of central value to our society. Tune in and check back with us later for more info on how boredom plays into summertime plans, or the lack thereof.

16. Journey of the Universe Book and Documentary Film

Journey of the Universe This spring and summer marks the premiere of the film and companion book, Journey of the Universe, by Brian Thomas Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker, an evolutionary philosopher and a historian of religions, respectively. Their science-based narrative tells the epic story of the universe, leading up to the challenges of our present moment. The authors describe the origins of humans on Earth, how we developed a symbolic consciousness, and how our ability to communicate using symbols make humans a “planetary presence.”  As the dominant species, humans have become increasingly adept at adapting to, and now commodifying Earth.

Suddenly, we are faced with a new dynamic—one where the survival of the species and entire ecosystems depend primarily on human activity, and the choices humans make.

Weaving together the findings of modern science together with enduring wisdom found in the humanistic traditions of the West, China, India, and indigenous peoples, the authors explore cosmic evolution as a profoundly wondrous process based on creativity, connection, and interdependence, and they envision an unprecedented opportunity for the world’s people to address the daunting ecological and social challenges of our times.

Tomorrow, the documentary film will be broadcast on KQED TV in northern California, and it will premiere nationally on public television in September 2011. (Check your local listings). In the meantime, you can visit the Journey of the Universe website to learn more about the exciting project and get started with the film trailer.

 

17. 3@2 Interview: John and Colleen Marzluff on Dog Days, Raven Nights

We’d like to introduce a new column series for the Yale Press Log: the 3@2 interviews, consisting of 3 questions posed to 2 authors, from right here at 302 Temple Street.

Dog Days, Raven Nights First up are John and Colleen Marzluff, co-authors of the newly published Dog Days, Raven Nights, in which the husband-and-wife biologist team recall their days as young field scientists in the Maine woods-studying the Common Raven. Fresh out of graduate school in Arizona in 1988, the two set off across the country with their dogs, Sitka and Topper, to study with and join insect physiologist turned ornithologist, Bernd Heinrich, who also wrote the Foreword for the book. For three years in the mountainous wild, they observed, studied, and recorded the behavior of ravens, and trained sled dogs to help them across the wintry terrains, all the while forming the personal relationships that have shaped their careers and friendships, not to mention their marriage. Their answers below are distinguished with the same dog (Colleen) and raven (John) icons used to alternate voices in their book.

 

Yale University Press: Your book strongly advocates that students pursue what they love to do. Even doing what you love, there are always…unfavorable conditions. What were the best and worst parts about the long, sometimes fruitless days, in the observation hut?

Dog icon Colleen Marzluff: It was “Torture in the Hut”, as the title of the chapter says… Boredom, stiffness, frustration—they were all there. Sometimes you would think, “I got up before dawn for this!?” We couldn’t talk, let alone argue, or the ravens would hear us. We sometimes wrote notes to each other, but for the most part, it was a lot of waiting for something to happen. We couldn’t really read a book or play cards because we might have missed something. A real lesson in patience—sometimes like watching paint dry—solitary confinement with a silent partner.

The best was when an experiment yielded results, expected or unexpected; when other critters visited and helped break up the tedium; when we would imagine the birds behaving more like primates we could laugh (silently). Best part is that we survived it. I suppose that could have been a very difficult thing to do for most couples, but we made it!

Raven icon John Marzluff: Because we had to be quiet, Colleen couldn’t argue with me : ) .  Actually, to me once I was in the hut it was always good. The birds were constantly doing something, either the juvenile flock or the adult pair kept me engaged because you never knew WHAT they might do.  One day they would catch a mouse, the next they would play with a toy, or they would utter a vocalization never yet heard. Their activity was constantly amazing to me.  Of course the very best times were

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18. Happy Birthday, Frank Lloyd Wright!: Liber Machina Est

Frank Lloyd Wright, born in Wisconsin in 1867 to become the most distinctly famous American architect, left behind much for us to contemplate—least of all his thoughts on books. Championing his own horizontal “Prairie House” designs, Wright was insistent on the role of the machine in progressive design in the arts and crafts. From Chicago in 1901 he delivered a lecture called “The Art and Craft of the Machine”, in which he made his case for using the efficiency of technology to produce modernizing ideas and bring a new mode into style.

Why Architecture Matters In discussing the lecture in his book Why Architecture Matters, Paul Goldberger suggests that “Wright was acting on the presumption that architecture was a form of communication, a radical thought indeed for 1901—architecture as media.” Wright argued that the easily-produced printed book, not even the printing press, was the first machine and had a profound and lasting effect on the role of architecture. Until Gutenberg, he said, architecture was civilization’s record, “the universal writing of humanity”; the iconic achievements were “great granite books.” Architecture, once supreme, was forced to adapt to this newer method of cultural production and survived by perpetuating itself through the work of architects who simply copied examples from the past. An extreme view, to be sure, but for his time, it was certainly in line with the Modernist advocates of novel creation, doing away with traditions of previous ages. It was the machine of the book that had once displaced architecture, but the machine aestheticism of modern design would give architecture its chance to reclaim its central role in society and begin anew the chronicle of human history. So labored Wright to transform the vision of American architecture.

19. A Summertime Rush of Art Collecting

Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters The Steins were not the only Jewish American family interested in collecting the strikingly profound works of the Modernist era; in fact, they were friends with Baltimore sisters Claribel and Etta Cone, who visited the expats and were captivated by the Parisian art of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.  The art of these and other artists of the avant-garde like Gauguin, Delacroix, Renoir, and Cézanne are featured in an exhibition at the Jewish Museum, “Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore”, open until September 25 before heading to Vancouver next summer.

The Cone sisters collected 3,000 works over a period of fifty years, ending in 1949 with Etta’s death, upon which she donated the massive collection to the Baltimore Museum of Art. Rather than promoting the myth that the Cones were dilettantish or superficial in their endeavors, curator and catalog author Karen Levitov seeks to portray them as true savants, accounting for their connoisseur taste in art in this “collection of collections.” At long last, the show brings the legacy of the Cone sisters to New York, with not only a selection of prints, paintings, and sculptures of early 20th-century Europe, but uncommon Asian and African decorative arts of the period and an interactive virtual tour of their adjoining Baltimore apartments.

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20. Letters of Alfred (Dearest Duck) and Georgia (Sweetestheart)

My Faraway One The Goodreads giveaway for My Faraway One:  Selected Letters of Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz: Volume One, 1915-1933 may have passed, but the story of the letters is only now beginning to unfold as we approach the June 21 publication of the volume. In just over 30 years, Stieglitz and O’Keeffe exchanged over 5,000 letters, a conversation of love, friendship, and art that was central to the evolution of American modernism. The correspondence was never revised, words are never crossed out, preserving the oddities and endearments of the pages—nicknames like “Little Duck” and many forms of “Dearest”. Stieglitz died in 1946, and before bequeathing these letters to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 1949, O’Keeffe stipulated that the contents remain sealed until twenty years after her death (in 1986). In 1981, she personally selected Sarah Greenough, a renowned scholar of the history of photography, to edit the correspondence, and this is the first time that an annotated selection of these letters appears in print—about 650 letters in this volume.

To commemorate the publication of the book and other projects in the Alfred Stieglitz/Georgia O’Keeffe Archive, the Beinecke Library is having a Stieglitz/O’Keeffe celebration, tomorrow, June 8 at 4pm. If you’re around New Haven, please join for an exciting chance to learn more about the digital projects of the archive and the relationship of these two pillars of 20th-century art. Keep your eyes on this blog later in the month as we preview some of the letters, the kind that kept Stieglitz asking for “A long, long kiss!—Just another kiss—a big one & I’ll let this go—”.

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21. The Arab Spring for Summer Reads

At the start of this year, a number of uprisings in the Middle East moved the region center stage in the arena of international politics. In a short amount of time, the Arab world from Morocco to Oman was consumed by protests—and in the politically extreme cases, two revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt have resulted in overthrowing the heads of state of those nations. Some have even speculated that the Arab Spring has begun to turn into the European Summer, with protests in Spain occurring at the end of May. Quite noteworthy to many commentators has been the impact of social media in these uprisings: interactive news feeds, video, and live updates were, and still are, crucial to spreading the word.

ArabSampler3D YUP has a notable list of political area studies and histories of countries. For example, earlier this year, we released Egypt on the Brink: From Nasser to Mubarak, by journalist Tarek Osman, who was in Cairo throughout the uprisings and managing to interview with news outlets despite the turmoil. Together with Victoria Clark’s Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes and Martin Evans’ and John PhillipsAlgeria: Anger of the Dispossessed, we compiled a free chapter sampler, “Crisis in the Arab World”, available for download in Kindle, ePub, and PDF formats. Given the weekend events in Yemen, with President Saleh fleeing to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, now is a good time to think about these roads to revolution and what the implications are for the Arab world and the global network of participants and onlookers.

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22. D-Day: Turning Point #10

Any 20th-century history buff knows that June 6 marks the anniversary of the D-day Normandy landings, part of Operation Overlord to retake Nazi-occupied western Europe during World War II. No maritime invasion had ever been larger in the history of warfare; even Helen of Troy’s face only launched a thousand ships. About 7,000 Allied ships sailed across the English Channel from the United Kingdom, in what many would see as a reverse invasion of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. By 1944, however, Allied victory was as yet uncertain.

Twelve Turning Points of the Second World War Historian P.M.H. Bell, author of Twelve Turning Points of the Second World War, chronicles the twelve events most central to understanding the range of conflict in what was an undeniably complex and (ha!) globally-encompassing war. He argues that a “turning point is simply a point at which a decisive or important change takes place….When we examine these turning points, it becomes plain that the war followed a shape and pattern.” Bell divides the war into three phases: 1940 – 1941; 1942 – May 1943; and finally from 1943 – 1945, writing that in this final phase inclusive of D-Day, “the Germans still had a slender chance of avoiding defeat,” an opportunity they failed to take. You can check out the other eleven points by viewing the Table of Contents, and read a post by Bell on the Yale Books London blog.  

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23. Don’t Kick Back with Your OJ Just Yet

Squeezed A cool, refreshing glass of orange juice is the perfect top-off to your breakfast, but maybe there are a few things you might want to know first about its history: how it got to you and what “100% pure orange juice” actually means. Both of these have to do with OJ’s sudden rise to popularity in the last half-century—hard to imagine breakfast nowadays without it—as Alissa Hamilton explains in her book, Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice. Why are Florida oranges coming from Brazil? Is OJ as fresh as we think? Hamilton has recently recorded a Nutrition Tidbits podcast on Healthcastle.com. Listen and be sure to check out more of her interviews and media appearances on the “Squeezed” blog.

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24. Adonis Wins Goethe Prize!

Adonis After being shortlisted for the Griffith Poetry Prize earlier this year, Syrian poet Adonis and his handpicked translator, Khaled Mattawa, won the prestigious Goethe Prize in Germany for our Margellos World Republic of Letters title: Adonis: Selected Poems. Born in Syria in 1930, Adonis is one of the most celebrated poets of the Arabic-speaking world. In this volume, the full span of Adonis’s career as a poet is brought to English readers for the first time. Adonis, who calls himself “the pagan poet” (once referred to by Edward Said as “today’s most daring and provocative Arab poet”), will accept the prize later this summer in Frankfurt.

And be sure to check out the New York Times profile by Charles McGrath from the poet’s tour around the US last fall.

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25. Summer Reading Hot as Ice; Edward J. Larson in Scientific American

There’s no better time to relax and get lost in a book than summer. Plenty of roundups including our books are being put out by critics and major media outlets this week, but no matter your summer vacation plans, we’re bringing you a great list of reads all month long, maybe with a few sneak peeks at the Fall so you can plan ahead.

An Empire of Ice To begin: a history of humans in a colder clime, as we approach the centenary of the first successful expeditions to the South Pole, An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Edward J. Larson.  By looking at Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, his British rivals Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton, and others in a larger scientific, social, and geopolitical context, Larson restores these expeditions' status as grand endeavors of science. Scott (despite boasting a cool title of “Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Commander, Royal Victorian Order”) has been reduced in the public mind to a dashing incompetent: he and his team died on the return after Amundsen had already arrived first at the South Pole.

The June issue of Scientific American has a piece by Larson, titled “Greater Glory: Why Scott Let Amundsen Win the Race to the South Pole”, which is currently available to the magazine’s Facebook fans. We like it; we hope you will, too.

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