Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bad dogs, great works and one brave woman

Another excellent piece from Mr. Gladwell, a writer who manages to be consistently insightful and intelligent without condescension or pretense. I’ve not yet read his Blink or The Tipping Point but I’ve been a fan of his New Yorker pieces for years, and a new one is always a high point of the day. Gladwell’s technique is to juxtapose two seemingly incompatible topics -- here, an anti-pit-bull legislation passed in Canada and racial and criminal profiling in New York City -- and hit “puree”. Gladwell asks pointed questions and comes up with equally pointed answers, and never backs down from uncomfortable truths. A very good read, as usual.
  • Michael Dirda reviews John Carey’s What Good Are The Arts? at The Washington Post.
An interesting point from Dirda and Carey closes out the piece:
Literature accomplishes so much because it makes us think as well as feel. In his last chapter, Carey proposes that indistinctness -- arising through the use of metaphor and simile -- grants poetry and fiction their particular, elusive richness. We are forced to build up in our minds complicated notions and images: "As the indistinctiveness of a text increases, so the reader's imaginative effort has to intensify." Such effort results in that "personal ownership" of a poem or story that is written art's "unique gift."
I’ve often thought that most of the great works of art tend to have a hole in them, a void where anyone can bring anything they want to the table in terms of interpretation. What separates the wheat from the chaff is the work’s ability to sustain a multitude of interpretations, be it intentional or not. You want your works to have that fluidity, to last, but it only happens some of the time (if you’re lucky enough to have it happen at all).
  • As of January 30, freelance reporter Jill Carroll is still alive.
Let's hope this truly brave woman makes it home safely.

No comments: