Fare thee well, you year of madness.
May this one be sweeter.
Happy New Year, you readers of this.
May the Force be with you.
A winter warmer: for the LA Review of Books, biologist Sophia Roosth heads to Svalbard and the doomsday seed vault in the dead of polar winter, languidly drifting past dead bodies and dead viruses preserved by permafrost.
Platåberget is full of vaults and faults, graves and caves. The mountain is now a place to unearth coal and bury coal miners, to immortalize seeds and resurrect viruses. On Platåberget, viruses that lived and died in the past have lately erupted into the present; ruins of coal mines are persistently in the present; and seeds in the vault are artifacts of the present that are now buried for future disinterral. At the ends of the earth, time seems out of joint. Here in the polar north, viruses, coal, and seeds are geopolitical and climatological relics, telling tales of coal extraction, contested land claims, and crumbling empires.
Changing his mind, decades later, about the novelist EM Forster, Julian Barnes reminds us that re-reading is a poignant way to take stock of one’s life.
Late America, in paint.
In a bleak salvo for The Baffler, Sam Kriss laments the colonisation of atheist thinking by assholes, idiots and puritans. “If our only problem were that we were backward, we could always catch up. If the real challenge before us were a simple paucity of facts, we could always learn them. But the real horrors of the twenty-first century aren’t horrors of superstition and unreason, but the far more deadly horrors of a rationally administered world we are endlessly condemned to repeat.”
And speaking of the deadly horrors of that world, shall we all join Vulture in looking back at the great and horribly prescient Children of Men 10 years on?
If you let Patrick talk for more than a few minutes, he’ll no doubt turn to how much he misses Melbourne’s amazing, magical food culture. Why? Fellow homesick ex-pat Besha Rodell says it here at Eater better than he ever could.
Annotated content is a fun trend to watch. There's RapGenius (now Genius.com) which is all about the strong link between annotation and folk wisdom. And there's Medium, the latest progeny of Ev Williams after co-founding Twitter and Blogger. Some niches are just too deep for a formal website all their own. The practice is still a bit messy, yes, but that’s what we love about it. And so, we really love the The New Inquiry’s stab at annotation—embracing that messiness as part of an exasperated rebuttal to the letter from the publisher. We’ll take a heartfelt mess of screencaps over a formal letter. Any day.
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