Longevity is the real prize for which writers strive, and it isn’t awarded by any jury. For a book to stand the test of time, to pass successfully down the generations, is uncommon enough to be worth a small celebration. For a writer in his mid-70s, the continued health of a book published in his mid-30s is, quite simply, a delight. This is why we do what we do: to make works of art that, if we are very lucky, will endure.
We’ve cancelled six Dr. Seuss titles. Huck Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird appear to be on the block. But, if we’re on a bend to reform our approach to teaching the English language, there are bigger fish to fry. Shakespeare is the curriculum’s Moby Dick. We need a harpoon. More than any other experience, the yearly dissection of Shakespeare turns kids off literature.
My wife, no stranger to photography workshops when young, is fond of recounting a tried-and-true bit of photo advice she heard at the Museum School in Boston, when she was an undergraduate. It goes like this: “Q: How do you take a good photograph? A: You take a photograph of some people and you put it in a drawer for thirty years. When you take it out of the drawer, you’ll have a good picture.”
Neurobiologists have known about the brain’s EM field for more than a century but have nearly always dismissed it as having no more relevance to its workings than the exhaust of a car has to its steering. Yet, since information is just correlation, I knew that the underlying brain EM field tremors that generated the spikes on the EEG screen knew the slamming of the hospital room door, just as much as the neurons whose firing generated those tremors. However, I also had enough physics to know that there was a crucial difference between a million scattered neurons firing and the EM field generated by their firing. The information encoded by the million discrete bits of information in a million scattered neurons is physically unified within a single brain EM field.
It is a scientific dualism based on the difference between matter and energy, rather than matter and spirit.
It’s hard to write about Rosa Rankin-Gee’s apocalyptic Dreamland without channelling aquatic metaphors. Water courses through its pages, as rising sea levels heighten inequalities, buoy populist politicians and wash away every certainty of civilisation. But there’s also the novel’s prose – its liquid grace and glinting sparkle – and the sheer irresistibility of a narrative that sweeps along with a force that feels tidal in its pull.
Think, now, whose hand you would like to hold
for the last time: that of a secret or lost lover,