News 21.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 21.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 21.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 21.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

How are you feeling right now? Your brain has many jobs, but its most important might be to answer this question. Perhaps you are hot, relaxed, hungry, in pain – or something else? Your ability to sense the physical state of your body in this way helps you survive. It helps you eat instead of starve. It tells you to call the hospital if you feel you might be having a heart attack. But how do you know how you feel?

Often, you can’t see, hear, touch, smell or taste information about the internal state of your body. Instead, you use a sense known as ‘interoception’ (in contrast to ‘exteroception’, which is how you sense the outside of the body via vision, taste, smell, touch and hearing). The notion of interoception was conceived more than 100 years ago when Charles Sherrington proposed the idea of there being specialised receptors inside the body that send information from our organ systems to the brain.

Of course, when I asked how you’re feeling right now, you might well have answered differently – you might have said you are feeling sad, stressed, excited, bored or some other emotional state. You don’t have an organ of boredom that communicates this internal sensation to the brain. However, interpreting your emotional feelings has a surprising amount in common with interpreting your bodily states. One example is judging whether you are feeling stressed rather than hungry. Both involve physical changes in the body: when you’re hungry, your stomach rumbles, you might feel weak; when you’re stressed, your heart and breathing rate increase, perhaps you even sweat or shiver. Perceiving and interpreting these physical changes in both cases involves interoception.

Read the rest of this article at: Psyche

News 21.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 21.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Twitter account UlyssesReader is what programmers call a “corpus-fed bot.” The corpus on which it feeds is James Joyce’s modernist epic, “Ulysses,” which was published a hundred years ago this month. For nine years, UlyssesReader has consumed the novel’s inner parts with relish, only to spit them out at a rate of one tweet every ten minutes. The novel’s eighteen episodes, each contrived according to an elaborate scheme of correspondences—Homeric parallels, hours of the day, organs of the body—are torn asunder. Characters are dismembered into bellies, breasts, and bottoms. When UlyssesReader reaches the end, it presents the novel’s historic signature, “Trieste-Zurich-Paris 1914-1921,” intact, like a bone fished out of the throat. Then it begins again, arranging, in its mechanical way, the tale of a young Dubliner named Stephen Dedalus and an older one named Leopold Bloom, brought together in a hospital, a brothel, a cabmen’s shelter, and, finally, the kitchen of Bloom’s home—on June 16, 1904, “an unusually fatiguing day, a chapter of accidents.”

My relationship with UlyssesReader is intense and, I suspect, typical. Waking up, sleepy and displeased, I roll over to see what it has been up to during the night. Sometimes it greets me with a sentence whose origin and significance I know with the same certainty that I know my name. The beginning of the novel, say:

Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him on the mild morning air.

Placing these sentences is simple. It is eight in the morning at the Martello tower in Sandycove. The tower, an obsolete British defense fortress, overlooks the “snotgreen,” “scrotumtightening” Irish Sea—“a great sweet mother,” Buck Mulligan intones, playing the roles of both priest and jester before an unamused Stephen Dedalus, who is grieving the death of his mother. Grasping whose point of view these sentences issue from is trickier, but key to the novel’s technical ambitions. The passage is marked by Buck’s rhetorical bombast—“stately,” “bearing a bowl”—but deflated by the gently ironizing description of him as “plump.” It was on the back of this observation that the critic Leo Bersani claimed that “Ulysses” brought to modern literature its most refined technique: a narrative perspective that was “at once seduced” by its characters’ distinctive thoughts and “coolly observant of their person.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

Happy Valentine’s Day! Just logging in for a quick scroll? Take your time.

You’re not on here as much as you used to be. Still, we’ll never forget you. In fact, we at Facebook love celebrating the moments and people you’ve worked really hard to forget. So now that you’re here, please enjoy this picture of you and your ex-boyfriend from five years ago.

You really loved that wine bar. Look at how happy you were. And is it just us or is your body snatched in this pic? Do you still own that blouse? Oh, right, it doesn’t fit anymore. Just like your ex, it’s gone now.

What happened anyway? I mean, we’re Facebook; we, of course, know what happened. We’ve read the private messages between your ex-boyfriend and your best friend. Pretty steamy. But also, what happened to you? Bummer that you never fully moved on.

Wonder how your ex is doing? Just hover over his name to enlarge his new profile picture. He is still cute and athletic. Did you know he was training to run the marathon? You were always trying to convince him to get back into running. Well, he’s finally done it. And yes, he’s still with your best friend. Sorry, ex-best friend! Our bad.

Read the rest of this article at: McSweeney’s

News 21.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 21.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

I pick up Jake Gyllenhaal in Lower Manhattan, not out side his building, a redbrick factory converted into luxury condos designed for discretion, but instead at a hotel taxi stand three blocks south. We set out for Monticello Motor Club, a members-only racetrack in the southern Catskill Mountains, two hours north, in my beat-up Jeep.
He volunteers to take the wheel—“I’m a good driver, you’ll see!”—then to navigate, and he sounds a little aggrieved when he’s upstaged by Waze. “I want to be a good copilot here,” he says as we creep toward the Lincoln Tunnel. The traffic is bad, but he doesn’t complain. He’s been looking forward to leaving town, away from the endless obligations and the hounding tabloids. This day is work, too, of course, but at least it will be offset by adrenaline-inducing fun. His incoming calls go ignored, his texts unread. As we climb the New Jersey Palisades, and the city passes from view, his shoulders seem to slacken under his comically puffy coat. He rifles through his backpack and pulls out an energy bar. “I brought this for you,” he says. “I’ve got a bag of nuts, if you want to share them later.” He’s really into food. On Thanksgiving, he spatchcocked his first turkey—“a very intense spatchcocking.” He’s working his way through a list of recipes he always figured would be difficult, but none so far have been the catastrophe he’d presumed. Crème brûlée? Not that hard. He asks about my job, my wife, our book club. Can he join? We’re reading Gary Shteyngart’s new novel? He loves Gary! “We’re very good friends.” Gary loves Chekhov. And what’s the deal with the durable literary influence of the Russians? “Let’s have fun,” he says as we leave the highway for the county roads. “Fuck it.” Near the foothills of the Catskills, he reaches toward me with an offering in the palm of his hand: “Tic Tac?”

He’s a youthful forty-one, slim and fit and energetic. He says he feels agile. As strong as he ever has. His age shows in only the minutest of ways. His hair, long and brown and fully accounted for, is studded with gray. His eyes, the clear blue of a butane flame, are still equine in their expressiveness. But now, when he smiles, wrinkles run radially toward their edges.

Once we arrive, Gyllenhaal ducks into the restroom in the collector-car gallery and returns gushing about the sink fixtures. “Think it’s a bad sign that it took me fifteen minutes to turn off the waterspout?” he asks the small crew who’ve come in for the day. He turns to me. “You’ve got to see those spouts.”

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

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News 21.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

What the face mask is to American society, the essay is to American literature: deceptively slight, heroically versatile, centuries old but lately a subject of great interest — not because it’s doing anything new, but because everything else is falling apart.

The essay, James Wood wrote in The New Yorker, “has for some time now been gaining energy as an escape from, or rival to, the perceived conservatism of much mainstream fiction.” That was in 2011. How far back “some time” extends isn’t clear — to 1986, maybe, when someone at Houghton Mifflin decided that readers might be interested in a collection of The Best American Essays, not just The Best American Short Stories (an institution since World War I); or 1998, when the Library of America put out a long-overdue edition of James Baldwin’s collected essays; or some point in the early Obama years, when celebrities stopped slapping their names on memoirs and started slapping their names on essay collections instead.

Since 2011, in any case, essays have outsold mainstream fiction and outranked it on best-of-the-year lists. Essays have actually become mainstream fiction, too, thanks to the success of books like Open City by Teju Cole and 10:04 by Ben Lerner, to name two 2010s favorites that read more like essays than novels. Nowadays when someone comes out with a long, plotless piece of prose that’s, say, 50 percent memoir, 30 percent travel diary, and 20 percent book reviews already published as standalone magazine articles, it hardly bears pointing out. In a decade when other literary forms have wobbled — audiences distracted, institutional support depleted — the essay has thrived, maybe because it was lean and scrappy to begin with.

This is strange, because nobody knows what an essay is, or so our leading essayists proudly insist. The genre is often spoken of as though it’s too elusive for any single mind to grasp, like a Zen koan or the Lost finale. For Brian Dillon, such an authority on the essay that he authored a book called Essayism, it’s “unbounded and mobile, a form with ambitions to be unformed.” Mary Cappello, one of the most respected essayists around, claims the essay is actually a “non-genre,” mutating too fast for diagnosis. To be fair, Montaigne, widely considered the first essayist, didn’t know what essays were, either, but he also didn’t proclaim, over and over, that he didn’t know — he just kept writing them. These days, the essay has never been more rigidly obsessed with its own misty indefinability.

Read the rest of this article at: the Drift

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.