“Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”
That’s Academy Award winner Bong Joon-ho, quoted from a Golden Globes acceptance speech all the way back in January 2020. He was talking about subtitles, which, despite being completely necessary and helpful and beyond useful, are apparently hated by some people.
Almost immediately afterward, Bong pulled in a ridiculous four Oscars with Parasite — a fantastically made, multilayered dark comedy that delves deep into the underbelly of class divides. Parasite was an extremely deserving winner. You should absolutely watch this movie.
“Will the day come where there are no more secondhand bookshops?” the poet, essayist, and bookseller Marius Kociejowski asks in his new memoir, “A Factotum in the Book Trade.”
He suspects that such a day will not arrive, but, troublingly, he is unsure. In London, his adopted home town and a great hub of the antiquarian book trade, many of Kociejowski’s haunts—including his former employer, the famed Bertram Rota shop, a pioneer in the trade of first editions of modern books and “one of the last of the old establishments, dynastic and oxygenless, with a hierarchy that could be more or less described as Victorian”—have already fallen prey to rising rents and shifting winds.
Kociejowski dislikes the fancy, well-appointed bookstores that have sometimes taken their place. “I want chaos; I want, above all, mystery,” he writes. The best bookstores, precisely because of the dustiness of their back shelves and even the crankiness of their guardians, promise that “somewhere, in one of their nooks and crannies, there awaits a book that will ever so subtly alter one’s existence.” With every shop that closes, a bit of that life-altering power is lost and the world leaches out “more of the serendipity which feeds the human spirit.”
The best theory physicists have for the birth of the universe makes no sense.
It goes like this: In the beginning—the very, if not quite veriest, beginning—there’s something called quantum foam. It’s barely there, and can’t even be said to occupy space, because there’s no such thing as space yet.
Or time. So even though it’s seething, bubbling, fluctuating, as foam tends to do, it’s not doing so in any kind of this-before-that temporal order.
It just is, all at once, indeterminate and undisturbed. Until it isn’t.
Something goes pop in precisely the right way, and out of that infinitesimally small pocket of instability, the entire universe bangs bigly into being. Instantly. Like, at a whoosh far exceeding the speed of light.
America’s culture wars are creating a world of “magnificent heroes and sickening villains” as people fight a fierce battle in black and white, says writer and podcaster Jon Ronson.
Ronson said he watched his own friends fight in the trenches, often to their own detriment, and he wanted to know more.
So he set out to explore not just the culture wars themselves, but the humans behind the stories and how these fights began. Riffing on a famous line of poetry by William Butler Yeats that reads, “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold,” Ronson has released a new BBC podcast called “Things Fell Apart”.
In the spring 1922 issue of the avant-garde American literary journal Little Review, Ezra Pound published a calendar for a modern era. The months were renamed after Greek and Roman deities, under the heading “Year 1 p.s.U”. Readers in tune with literary innovations knew that those letters stood for “post scriptum Ulysses”, or “after the writing of Ulysses”.
With the publication of James Joyce’s novel in February 1922, on the author’s 40th birthday, a new age had begun. Pound (his most famous slogan: “Make It New”) was a great one for announcing, or demanding, literary revolutions; this time history would vindicate him.
A century on, 1922 still looks like the year literature changed, when modernism came into its own. It was the year not only of Ulysses, but also “The Waste Land”, by the 34-year-old TS Eliot, first published in October. The great novel of modernism was followed by its greatest single poem. These would be enough to mark 1922 as a watershed. But in this year too, Virginia Woolf, the same age as Joyce, published Jacob’s Room, her first radically experimental novel, and began writing Mrs Dalloway.
Pound, who was living in Paris, was embarking on his magnum opus, “The Cantos”. It was he who creatively edited the early drafts of “The Waste Land”, telling Eliot what to cut from the copious first drafts of the poem. Thus Eliot’s dedication of the poem to him, quoting Dante: “Il miglior fabbro” (“the better maker”).