The Deep Music of the World


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The title of Michelle O’Sullivan’s This One High Field invokes a similar take on time. The poem from which it comes, “The Measure”, is buzzing with a sense of the moment, its individuality, opening: “Such stillness. And the mouth / of the ditch caught in moonlight.” The attention it demands is laced with wonder and curiosity, the brief lines are packed and jumpy with detail, and then they open out into a sense of a view as a whole: “air-stung trees on this one high field”. The single moment becomes the special place.

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Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin — Dublin Review of Books

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The Mysterious Life (and Death) of Africa’s Oldest Trees


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Baobab tress are fascinating. Some can be more than 1000 years old.

Trees—sometimes felled, sometimes planted, sometimes accidental witness to history—provide a setting always growing imperceptibly in the background. We plant trees for resources, shade, sustenance. We often kill trees with intention and purpose: for shelter, for warmth, for paper, for soap, for winter rituals, for clogs, for furniture. But with baobabs, we’re watching in exasperation as they fold on their own. The description of fallen giant trees struck a chord globally, even though the baobab grows mostly in Africa, Australia, and India. (There are a few in Hollywood, Florida, and in Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, where the synthetic spectacle—the Tree of Life—lights up in neon and glitz.) Speaking anthropomorphically, the baobab is the charismatic megafauna of botany, so its fall seems to portend our own.

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Jaime Lowe — Topic

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Marie Kondo at Work: Can Your Office ‘Spark Joy’?


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To start, set aside a day in the office to de-clutter and put each item through the “spark joy” test, Jefferson said. “Give people time to decide if all those desk tchotchkes, old stale reports, and books they never got around to reading really deserve a home in their space,” she said. Schedule a donation pick-up or ask for volunteers to drop off the stuff. “It creates an awesome ‘reset’ and the end result is a lighter, more spacious office.”

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Knowledge@Wharton

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In Defense of Women’s Sports


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When the tennis great Martina Navratilova wrote against biological males’ competing in women’s sports, she was roundly attacked as transphobic and swiftly booted from the board of the LGBT group Athlete Ally. A former Olympic swimmer from Britain, Sharron Davies, got mobbed for expressing similar sentiments.

We live in an age when stating the obvious is forbidden, and women’s sports may never be quite the same. 

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Rich Lowry — National Review

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Everyone knows you go home


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Sylvester recently published her second novel, Everyone Knows You Go Home, which traces the trauma several generations of a Mexican American family face as they try to cross the border and settle into comfortable lives. When Martin and Isabel decide to get married on Día de los Muertos, Isabel knows his family history is fraught. But the appearance of Martin’s deceased father, Omar, and arrival of Martin’s teenage nephew from across the border help the family reconcile with their past. The premise, of a spirit helping to shed light on lost history, has been compared to that of Coco, but Sylvester’s work is less interested in revelations and happy endings. Her characters are marked by happenstance and ignorance, a testament to the devastating effects arbitrary laws can have on the lives of everyday people. The novel has been hailed as timely in the wake of increased anti-immigrant rhetoric, commentary Sylvester has explicitly rejected as well-intentioned but flattening. Like her parents’ reasons for immigrating, Everyone Knows You Go Home revels in uncertainty and refuses easy answers.

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Alana Mohamed — Village Voice

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The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America


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Have you wondered what life would be like for a Facebook or YouTube moderator?

It’s a place where, in stark contrast to the perks lavished on Facebook employees, team leaders micromanage content moderators’ every bathroom and prayer break; where employees, desperate for a dopamine rush amid the misery, have been found having sex inside stairwells and a room reserved for lactating mothers; where people develop severe anxiety while still in training, and continue to struggle with trauma symptoms long after they leave; and where the counseling that Cognizant offers them ends the moment they quit — or are simply let go.

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Casey Newton — The Verge

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In Praise of Urinal Lit


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What qualifies as urinal lit? Well, technically it’s anything that someone is brave enough to scribble on a bathroom wall. I’ll admit, most of these scribbles are nonsense, as alcohol fuels a tremendous amount of urinal lit (though the same could be said, I suppose, for lit lit). Urinal lit often has a sense of urgency, as well as a clarity typically reserved for a form like haiku. The best urinal lit uses an economy of language that makes Raymond Carver seem positively prolix. The urgency of urinal lit comes from the necessary brevity of scrawling a message in a public place without being seen. Given the amount of graffiti in bar bathrooms, I’m amazed I’ve never actually caught anyone in the act.

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Alex Tzelnic — The Millions

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