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Friday, March 15, 2019

Ten Ways To Look At The Color Black, by Ed Simon, The Millions

Black is the most parsimonious of all colors. Color is a question of what it is we’re seeing when contrasted with that which we can’t, and black is the null zero of the latter. Those Manichean symbolic associations that we have with black and white are culturally relative—they are contingent on the arbitrary associations that a people project onto colors. Yet true to the ballet of binary oppositions, they are intractably related, for one could never read black ink on black paper, or its converse. If with feigned synesthesia we could imagine what each color would sound like, I’d suspect that they’d either be all piercing intensity and high pitches, or perhaps low, barely-heard thrum—but I’m unsure which would be which.

What Do The Make-Believe Bureaucracies Of Sci-Fi Novels Say About Us?, by Ben H. Winters, New York Times

Amid all the careful laying in of detail that we authors humbly call “world-building,” the language of law and policy does a special kind of work. It is powerful because government is powerful, and its power permeates our lives in ways large and small, whether or not we are paying attention.

Languages Are Too Big For Academies To Tame, by The Economist

That the Académie is at best aspirational—a source of guidance people might say they want but often cheerfully ignore—is better understood by the French than by outsiders. France Culture, a radio station, called the recent change of mind on gendered titles “a mea culpa rather than a revolution”. The Académie was behind the times, as even its own ruling acknowledged: its job is to observe “good usage” as already practised, and to recognise the language’s evolution, not to steer it.

What Is The Mysterious 'Global Hum' — And Is It Simply Noise Pollution?, by Philip Jaekl, The Guardian

The Hum is experienced as a consistent, low-pitched noise, much like the sound of a large truck idling in a nearby parking lot. Hearers tend to report experiencing it in urban areas – leading some to conclude that it is, in fact, a form of noise pollution screened from most people by the general city soundscape.

It is said to cause symptoms that range from insomnia to headaches to dizziness. But because its actual source is unknown, it is impossible to discern its effects accurately.

Alexandre Dumas’s Magnum Opus Was A Massive Cookbook, by Rohini Chaki, Atlas Obscura

Dumas’s historical novels, featuring swashbuckling musketeers and aristocratic scandals, brought him lasting fame. But he had hoped Le Grand Dictionnaire de cuisine would be the crowning jewel in his literary oeuvre. In a twist worthy of a novel, the gastronomic swan song of this 19th century literary maverick is almost constantly overlooked today.

A 1970s Japanese Novel Leading The Way To Ferrante, by Jiayang Fan, New York Times

What emerges is a story that searchingly inhabits the lives of women without sentimentality or self-pity. When the narrator declares that she wanted to give herself a pat on the head for “having managed to protect my daughter from the upheaval around her with the quantity of light,” it is as if Tsushima herself has momentarily taken up the voice of the narrator in order to announce herself. In putting pen to the blank page, she has opened up a territory that feels, in some small way, like a bright room of her own.

Let Me Out Here By Emily W. Pease, by Amber Wheeler Bacon, Ploughshares

If you’ve ever driven through the mountains of West Virginia in the snow at night and been afraid, you might recognize the feeling one gets from reading Let Me Out Here Emily Pease’s debut collection. Her stories are at times dizzying and dark with a hint of dread, but are also rich with texture, voice and a wild beauty.

I Got Told What To Call This Poem By My Male Colleague, by Grace Krause, Thinking In The Open

This poem is for all the men
Who have sacrificed their time
To explain my research to me.