Amitai Etzioni | Atlantic | 3rd February 2014
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger's arguments for publishing the Snowden files are "flimsy" and "self-contradictory". He "does not show that anyone has been killed, tortured, sent to the gulags, or even lost their job on account of the collection of phone records and emails". He has "has no training in assessing intelligence material, and has strong motives to publish the information for glory or gain". Why trust him?
Kamil Shamsie & Pankaj Mishra | Guernica | 3rd February 2014
A conversation about the political obligations of writers, taking Mo Yan's 2012 Nobel Prize as its starting point. If we call upon Chinese writers to protest explicitly against the bad behaviour of their government, why don't we hold Western writers to the same standard? What of the great writers throughout history who lived in undemocratic societies without finding their political systems problematic?
Nathan Jandl | The Baffler | 4th February 2014
Review of The Habit of Rivers, a "lush collection of essays" about trout fishing by Ted Leeson, "lifelong practitioner of fly fishing and a masterful writer of lyric nonfiction". "To construct an 'argument' by fly fishing (by choosing what fly to use, where to cast it, how to control its drift, and so on) is to attempt to answer a fundamental question: as Leeson asks, 'Have I accurately inferred and observed the principles by which the river works?'"
Tom Junod | Esquire | 2nd February 2014
"His metier was human loneliness, and the necessary curse of human self-knowledge. He played frauds who knew they were frauds, schemers who knew they were schemers, closeted men who could only groan with frustrated love. What united his roles was the calm he brought to them, the stately concentration that assured us that no matter whom Philip Seymour Hoffman played, Philip Seymour Hoffman himself was protected"
Chad Harbach | n+1 | 3rd February 2014
"There were 79 degree-granting programs in creative writing in 1975; today, there are 1,269. The University now rivals, if it hasn’t surpassed, New York as the economic centre of the literary fiction world. This balance has created, in effect, two literary cultures : one condensed in New York, the other spread across the diffuse network of provincial college towns. Each has its own canonical works and heroic figures"
John Brockman | Edge | 22nd January 2014
Never a dull moment. On Snowden: "The US used to have a policy of zero tolerance for fire. It suppressed wildfires — and built up this huge bank of flammable material, so when a fire did come, it destroyed everything. That's what the NSA and other agencies are experiencing. Rather than trying to suppress leaks and then having this once-every-ten-year conflagration, they should manage whistleblowing in controlled burns"
Thought for the day:
"I did not fully understand the dread term, 'terminal illness', until I saw Heathrow for myself" — Dennis Potter
Thank you for subscribing to The Browser