On poetry and the dissemination of marginalised voices

“Ferlinghetti calls to the poet-reader, addressing them as Whitman, Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, etc. — all famous writers, some of them queer. And that’s maybe apt, as it’s long been queer writers who have made the case for poetry as activism — even today, when their voices might no longer seem necessary and poetry is sometimes a punchline. Because even as their stories creep in from the margins, queer lives are not transformed into fairytales by marriage equality and the cooption of drag culture. Queer voices must still be heard, and poetry’s tradition of tribal truth-telling always has and continues to make it the perfect tool for the dissemination of those voices.”

More at Flavorwire.

“The recent screening of BBC’s War and Peace has inspired many a TV viewer to dust off their old copy of Tolstoy’s masterpiece and give it another go. Daring ones, seduced perhaps by the radiance of Natasha Rostova, might be persuaded to dig into the vast world of Russian literature in search of other memorable female characters. Where to begin? Look no further. Here is your guide to the VIPs of Russian literary heroines.”

— Source: Literary Hub

Worth a look for those interested in Russian literature. Although, of course, it’s important to remember that each and every character was written by a man.

Source: Literary Hub.

Jennifer Dawn Whitney (DCRC) traces the history of our anxieties about robot technology

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In contemporary Western culture, we often trace our relationship with automation and robotics to the Industrial Revolution – or, more recently – to a kind of American futurism rooted in the 1950s. Wedged between these two moments of modernity we find the word ‘robot’, which came into usage in the 1920s.

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From an article by Birger Vanwesenbeeck (Los Angeles Review of Books) on Gustave Flaubert [Source]

Pynchon, DeLillo, Atwood, Dostoyevsky, DeLillo.

A photo posted by Rhys Tranter (@rhys.tranter) on

Shannon Mattern on how the 1939 World’s Fair anticipated our current obsession with urban data science and “smart” cities.

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Exhibits at the 1939 World’s Fair. Left: Consolidated Edison, “City of Light.” [New York Public Library] Right: General Motors, “Futurama.” [General Motors]
The World of Tomorrow, Leonard Wallock writes, “was the city’s perfected dream of itself.” It manifested desires for “scientific rationality, technological progress, modernist aesthetics, industrial design … consumer prosperity, and … corporate capitalism” in spatial form, via rational urban planning and progressive civil engineering, modernist architecture and sterilized suburbs. Just as important — though much less discussed — was the dream of efficient urban administration. (more…)