The Believer: The Age of Simulation

The Believer: The Age of Simulation

by John Reed


If the twentieth century, as Walter Benjamin characterized it, was the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, the twenty-first century will be the Age of Simulation. Increasingly, there are no fields of expertise, because so much of what is “expert” can be downloaded, and even if it has to be learned, the information is so accessible—even micro decisions, like, do I want an H-pipe or an X-pipe on my 1967 Camaro—that to be anything, any kind of professional anything, has become, and will progressively become, little more than a commitment to pretend to a given status. And that, of course, can only last for so long, before people realize they can’t really adopt permanent professional identities. We will each be, in our own way, simulations of however many identities we have the time or patience to pursue.

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https://logger.believermag.com/post/2017/01/09/the-age-of-simulation

Harper's: Revisionist History

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Harper's: Revisionist History

A piece about Nikolay Kostomarov’s short story “Animal Riot,” as the likely source for Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”


… At its face, the possible source seemed like more than a big coincidence, but the Internet discussion around the subject, and a few academic consults with colleagues, were discouraging: Orwell didn’t read or speak Russian; Orwell wouldn’t have heard of Kostomarov; Kostomarov’s story was more minor than Kostomarov himself; Orwell was clear about the inspiration for Animal Farm. “I saw a little boy,” he wrote, “perhaps ten years old, driving a huge cart-horse along a narrow path, whipping it whenever it tried to turn. It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them.”

That quote comes from the Ukrainian edition of Animal Farm, which was released in 1947 as part of the Congress for Cultural Freedom’s soft war on communism. (As a result of the British Secret Services’ Foreign Office, which worked hand in hand with Orwell, the CIA, and CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom, Animal Farm was arguably the most massively translated and distributed small-press book in the history of literature.) If anyone was to have made the connection to “Animal Riot,” it was the audience for the Ukrainian translation of Animal Farm. Kostomarov, according to the Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, was one of “the three founders of the Ukrainian national renaissance.” Kostomarov was also a major influence of Mykhailo Hrushevsky, an author and political leader who was at the forefront of revolutionary Ukraine, a subject Orwell wrote about. Kostomarov, in Hrushevsky’s evaluation, was “the precursor of modern Ukraine.” So, it’s ironic that the Ukrainian edition is the evidence that Orwell came up with Animal Farm independently of Kostomarov. Ironic, as well, is the similarity of Orwell’s boyhood memory to a boyhood memory of Dostoevsky. In Crime & Punishment, Dostoevsky describes the cruel beating of a horse. In his notebooks of the period, Dostoevsky explains: “The dreadful fist soared again and again, and struck blows on the back of the head . . . This disgusting scene has remained in my memory all my life. . . . This little scene appeared to me, so to speak, as an emblem, as something which very graphically demonstrated the link between cause and effect. Here every blow dealt at the animal leaped out of the blow dealt at the man.” …

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http://harpers.org/blog/2015/12/revisionist-history/


Times Literary Supplement: ‘Georgia’ a novel by Dawn Trip

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TheTimes Literary Supplement: ‘Georgia’ a novel by Dawn Trip

Well, for those of you who subscribe to the Times Literary Supplement, I have a review of Dawn Tripp's novel, Georgia in this week's issue:

Wilully, Americans tell the story of Georgia O’Keeffe: the story of the southwestern female artist and pioneer. The story is wrong in three ways: once for the remnants of the arguments it contains, mounted by art critics in the 1920s, that O’Keeffe embodied the art of a woman, more sensual ...

http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/


The New York Times: 'Francis Bacon in Your Blood: A Memoir'

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The New York Times: 'Francis Bacon in Your Blood: A Memoir'

Reviewing 'Francis Bacon in Your Blood: A Memoir,' by Michael Peppiatt 

When Michael Peppiatt, at 21, met Francis Bacon, the 53-year-old artist was already all artifice, well spoken when well rehearsed, his bistro doctrines applauded by clinking glasses. Peppiatt, having taken over a student arts journal at Cambridge, had shown up in London’s Soho. It was 1963, and Peppiatt laid claim to but a tenuous introduction to the renowned painter he sought. At the bar of the French House, the youth was handled by the photographer John Deakin, who loudly advised: 'My dear, you should consider that the maestro you mention has as of late become so famous that she no longer talks to the flotsam and jetsam. . . . I fear she wouldn’t even consider meeting a mere student like you!' ...

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http://nyti.ms/23NBrr2