Can you really teach people to write? I might pose a parallel question: do we really teach people to be philosophers or mathematicians? Don’t we, instead, hand over to our budding philosophers or mathematicians a few basic tools that permit them to self-evolve?
Perhaps what we really mean when we say we can’t teach writing is that we can’t teach someone to be Virginia Woolf. On the other hand, a number of our most accomplished writers were, early in their lives, enrolled in writing courses: Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Wallace Stegner, and Flannery O’Connor, to name a few.
Once upon a time, there was a city where people looked at each other or their surroundings instead of their cellphones. Where they spoke to one another, rather than making some clever online comment. Back then, in the 1970s, Manhattan was still rough, and not just on the edges, but through and through, it seemed. And so it was a time when street photographers could roam the streets and find inspiration all around, engaging with their subjects to capture moments of subtlety, beauty and serendipity.
This was the New York that Carrie Boretz discovered when she started working in 1975 as a photo intern at The Village Voice. There was enough to be found on the street that she did not have to make a living doing still lifes or fashion. She wanted real life.
Greg Milner’s Pinpoint tells the story of how we were navigated into this situation − conventional methods of dating place us in the 2016th year of the Common Era, but for him the clock really began ticking (if oscillating caesium atoms do, in fact, tick) at midnight on 5 January 1980 when − synchronised to UTC (Coordinated Universal Time, as determined by an averaging of more than 200 atomic clocks worldwide) − the GPS system went live.
“If the structure of the universe is a result of a pattern of vibration, what causes the vibration?” Stephon Alexander asks in his new book, “The Jazz of Physics.” And does that vibration mean that the universe is “behaving like an instrument?” In the most engaging chapters of this book — part memoir, part history of science, part physics popularization and part jazz lesson — Dr. Alexander ventures far out onto the cutting edge of modern cosmology, presenting a compelling case for vibration and resonance being at the heart of the physical structure we find around us, from the smallest particle of matter to the largest clusters of galaxies.