Friday, October 30, 2009
Julian Bell in the LRB on the new translation of Van Gogh's letters.
Behind a glass wall there was that bank of recording equipment you see in pictures. In the main room, where we were, there were some mikes, a set of drums, a fridge and a sofa. I said that I was only 14 and he laughed. No, I wasn’t, he told me. I was, I said. He pushed me on to the sofa and I repeated that I was 14, and – I was pleading now, knowing I was in trouble – I was a virgin. I was at any rate young enough to think that telling him that would give him pause. No, I wasn’t, I was not 14 and I was certainly no virgin, he laughed, as he pushed up my skirt. I have no idea whether he believed what he was saying or not.
Jenny Diski on Polanski at the LRB
Thursday, October 29, 2009
- Try not to panic if you can’t recognize that noise coming from the stage as something you wrote. The players, even those who’ve seriously practiced their parts, are nonetheless holding on for dear life. From their vantage point inside the churning machine they very likely have no idea at all what you mean nor how what they are playing is supposed to fit into the grand plan. They have only their individual parts, which are strange and incomplete road maps full of rests, occasional notes and then more rests. Even the very best of them will miscount on a first encounter.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
There is a monument to Heine in a park outside the Frankfurt Opera which is used by heroin addicts. Heine's hair was covered in blood sprayed from the veins of junkies when their injections went wrong. Another Heine was in Corfu in the palace of Sissi, Empress of Austria, who adored the poet. At her assassination the palace was bought by the German kaiser, and his first act was to get rid of what he called that "syphilitic Jew".
Saturday, October 24, 2009
MCG: North American translators are subject to what Lawrence Venuti has called the "canon of fluency," i.e., to certain standards and norms of English writing. How do you negotiate market demands, translation demands, and publishing demands, in the English in which you render your works, how do you deal with questions of readability and smoothness? What would or wouldn’t you compromise?SJL: That is a complex matter. With all my books, including the biography Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman, and in general with any book that anybody writes, there is someone who mediates between you and the reader, and that’s the editor. Depending on the editor’s culture and the culture of the publishing house itself many things can happen. I have worked with publishers accustomed to dealing with experimental fiction, but nonetheless sometimes they had questions or they wanted to use a solution for something that seemed to me like a conventional compromise. It was a back and forth. And you accept some compromises and not others, but you definitely want to get the book out there. One of the most interesting experiences I had in that regard was when I worked with Simon and Schuster, a big commercial house. I was doing the last novel of Puig’s. My editor at that time said to me, "there is a problem because we don’t know who is talking." I explained that this was part of the style, but she said "Well, can’t we put names?" I said: "Definitely not," and there was a huge battle, but I won. Because part of the point is that in the novel Puig is using film script format but without the names. It is very important how he plays with that, and it is up to the reader to find out who the speakers are. In a way you are what you speak. So that was the story, and I thought it was rather interesting; it was quite invasive of the editor; I had never encountered that before. Then again, the book wasn’t exactly a runaway bestseller either. I think that sometimes I’ve really taken control of the text and sometimes the editor might have been right.
(Much, much more in this extremely interesting interview, the rest here)
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Previous research has demonstrated that Bayesian reasoning performance is improved if uncertainty information is presented as natural frequencies rather than single-event probabilities. A questionnaire study of 342 college students replicated this effect but also found that the performance-boosting benefits of the natural frequency presentation occurred primarily for participants who scored high in numeracy. This finding suggests that even comprehension and manipulation of natural frequencies requires a certain threshold of numeracy abilities, and that the beneficial effects of natural frequency presentation may not be as general as previously believed.
Fans of Gigerenzer's Reckoning with Risk take note. (This is exactly what I need for book 7.71, so unbelievably great. Thanks, Andrew! And thanks, Keith, who told Andrew!)
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
So this is, of course, horribly embarrassing - I need to take lessons, clearly, from the pro - but John Chris is worth hearing.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
But the plan began to unravel rather rapidly on Monday when it transpired that an MP, Paul Farrelly, had tabled a question about the injunction and the awkward document in parliament. That was bad enough, what with the nuisance of 300-odd years of precedent affirming the right of the press to report whatever MPs say or do. There was a tiresomely teasing story on the Guardian front page. And then there was Twitter.
It took one tweet on Monday evening as I left the office to light the virtual touchpaper. At five past nine I tapped: "Now Guardian prevented from reporting parliament for unreportable reasons. Did John Wilkes live in vain?" Twitter's detractors are used to sneering that nothing of value can be said in 140 characters. My 104 characters did just fine.
By the time I got home, after stopping off for a meal with friends, the Twittersphere had gone into meltdown. Twitterers had sleuthed down Farrelly's question, published the relevant links and were now seriously on the case. By midday on Tuesday "Trafigura" was one of the most searched terms in Europe, helped along by re-tweets by Stephen Fry and his 830,000-odd followers.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Got this email today from Camfed
Dear Helen DeWitt,
On Wed., Oct. 7, the Case Foundation, Parade Magazine and Causes.com launched America's Giving Challenge, a competition designed to encourage more people to participate in philanthropy. Don't worry, you don't have to be in America to participate, and we're calling on our supporters worldwide to join in!
The terms are simple: The charity on Causes.com with the most individual donations by Nov. 7 wins the $50,000 prize. In order to send more girls to school in Africa, Camfed is participating in this challenge, and we need your help!
To win $50,000, between now and November 7th we have to get more people to donate $10 to our Cause than any other. (Each person can donate once per day and have it count as a unique donation.) We can also win daily awards of $1,000 if we can get the most people to donate in any 24-hour period.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
1) Donate $10, which will provide a year's worth of school supplies-notebooks, pens, pencils-to a girl in Africa. To donate, visit http://www.causes.com/causes/72910.
2) If you can give more, take the time to donate once a day throughout the competition-your generosity will greatly increase our chances of unlocking the $50,000 prize.
3) Forward this email, post a message on Facebook or Twitter, or simply talk to your friends about this competition and Camfed. Ask them to get involved and make a donation.
If you've never given on Facebook Causes before, now's the time. Your $10 donation may be worth $50,000, which would provide a year's worth of school supplies to 5,000 children. One person really can make a difference.
Thank you for all your support!
The Camfed Team