From The New York Times: Editorial Contest Winner

The winner of the New York Times‘ Third Annual Student Editorial Contest has been honored with the publication of her essay, “The Resurrection of Gilgamesh.” The author, Annie Cohen, thinks of Gilgamesh when she finds herself drowned in a sea of teenagers absorbed into flashing gadgets. Like Gilgamesh, they are too absorbed into themselves:suffering from a lack of self-esteem, people have taken recourse in various social media platforms to have others remind them of how good it is to be them. This she calls the “Gilgamesh Complex”:

Todd Heisler, a New York Times photographer, took these personal snapshots and embellished them using Instagram filters. Related ArticleCredit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Todd Heisler, a New York Times photographer, took these personal snapshots and embellished them using Instagram filters. Related ArticleCredit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

My generation has a Gilgamesh Complex, and it is enabled. Gilgamesh, for those unfamiliar, went on a quest for immortality, and when he discovered the impossibility of this act, vowed to make his name live on forever, the closest thing to immortality we humans have. Gilgamesh succeeded, as every high schooler who has read his epic knows. The problem is that fame, however short-lived, is in the grasp of every young human who has access to the Internet, American Dream Style. Everybody must have his or her name known, everybody must know who is doing what, to feed our Gilgamesh Complex.

The ‘selfie’, then, might suggest more than the taking of a digital self-portrait, but an also an attempt to make our digitally transmuted world more fuller of one’s self. But like Gilgamesh, Cohen remarks, we are only fooling ourselves to believe this will last longer than six days and seven nights.

Read her full essay at The New York Times.

Weekly Round-Up, 5-12-17

Hellooo Corelings! If you haven’t already completed your finals, you are at least on the tail-end of testing, and for that you deserve a treat! We hope this week’s link round-up will do the trick.

Robert Rauschenberg, Canto I: The Dark Wood of Error, from the series Thirty-Four Illustrations for Dantes Inferno, 1958 (via The Rauschenberg Foundation)

  • “Antigone (born against.)” is a modern-day adaptation of the Sophocles play, focusing on abuses of power and marginalization in the 21st century. Written by Xavier University graduate Griff Bludworth, the play will be performed by the Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati apprentice company at the Know Theatre of Cincinnati.
  • The “finger of Satan” in Machiavelli’s The Prince: Read an excerpt from the recently published Be Like the Fox: Machiavelli in His World by Erica Benner.
  • An early birthday party for Walt Whitman (who celebrates his 198th birthday on May 31st) saw readings by New York Times columnist Ginia Bellafante, novelist Dirk Wittenborn, and actress Amy Ryan.
  • Just for fun: Odysseus and Penelope live on in the form of two Siberian cats on Instagram. Instagram, we are told, is today’s equivalent of oral tradition, hence the names of these two cats. Regardless, they bring honor to their namesakes by way of their extreme cuteness.

“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” (Via siberian_odyssey on Instagram)

That’s all for this week. We hope Spring Semester was filled with much knowledge and friendship.

From The Times Literary Supplement: Immense chaos of feeling

From Rousseau’s unprecedented confessions to Hong Kingston’sWarrior Women and China Men, Alex Zwerdling traces the history of the memoir in hisThe Rise of the Memoir, reviewed by Frances Wilson for the TLS. The difficulty with memoirs is that they are written to be memorable; enough so to be a steady source of profit after ones death, so we should suspect that Rousseau’s extravagant confessions were really cryonics dressed up as histrionics.

Self-portrait (1960) by Dorothy Mead Ruth Borchard Collection, courtesy of Piano Nobile, Robert Travers (Works of Art) Ltd

Self-portrait (1960) by Dorothy Mead Ruth Borchard Collection, courtesy of Piano Nobile, Robert Travers (Works of Art) Ltd

Readers search in vain for the insights and humility we now require of autobiographers. I am made unlike anyone I have ever met, proclaims Rousseau, removing himself from any sense of communal identity. He plunged into his life and he plunged into the telling of his life: the further I go into my story, the less order and sequence I can put into it. Onto this formless and never-to-be-finished mass he imposed no shaping structure or narrative arc because he had no interest in, or knowledge of, a narrative self. Rousseau was our first episodic autobiographer. Looking ahead, he explained, always ruins my enjoyment.

So why did this book, described by Zwerdling as incoherent, self-indulgent, self-aggrandising, embarrassing [and] often irrational, exert such power over Wordsworth and De Quincey? Why was Rousseaus Confessions so beloved by George Eliot and Emerson, why did Virginia Woolf lament that there was no womans autobiography to compare with this, and why did John Ruskin, according to Charles Eliot Norton, feel that Rousseau, who was unlike anyone, was so like Ruskin himself that he must have transmigrated into his body?

The review manages topile on one anecdote after another while clapping hard for Professor Zwerdling rollickingmonograph. To find out some of the answers to these question and inspiration for your own memoir:

Read the full review at the TLS

Weekly Round-Up, 5-5-17

Hello Corelings! Welcome to reading period, the all-too-short span before the start of finals. Whether you’re putting the final touches on your last papers, cramming for your Core exams, or looking up pictures of dogs in hopes that they may inject some semblance of motivation into your veins (we suggest huskies or shiba inus for these purposes), we hope that this installment of the Weekly Round-Up provides you with a much-needed break. Read on:

  • U-Theatre, a Zen percussion troupe, is presenting a five-show run of its work Dao at the National Theater in Taipei following its world premiere on April 15 at the National Theater Taichung. Percussion, martial arts, and meditation come together to explore the teachings of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu.
  • Turns out this past Wednesday, May 3, marked the birthday of Niccolo Machiavelli. And you know how we at Core love birthdays, belated or otherwise. Now if only we could find 548 candles…
  • Voltaire was a lot more wily than we realized. Along with several instances of arrests and imprisonments–in the Bastille, no less–the writer once described the plays of Shakespeare as “disgusting” and characteristic of the “absurd and barbaric” English theater; nonetheless, the Bard’s “enormous dungheap” still contains some desirable aspects. (We have to wonder what may have caught Voltaire’s eye.)

The man himself, snickering at the audacity of English theater. Probably. Portrait of Voltaire, Maurice Quentin de La Tour, pastel on paper, 1735.

The man himself, snickering at the audacity of English theater. Probably. Portrait of Voltaire, Maurice Quentin de La Tour, pastel on paper, 1735.

  • Remember that time a grad student discovered Walt Whitman’s little-known guide to Manly Health and Training, written back in 1858 under the pseudonym Mose Velsor? There is some speculation–well, at least by Spectator contributor Ben Markovits–that it was, in fact, penned by actress Gwyneth Paltrow. We’ll let you decide.
  • More birthdays: Karl Marx is 199 today. To commemorate the day, thespian Mamunur Rashid and Bangla Theatre is scheduled to present a stage reading of historian Howard Zinn’s play “Marx in Soho” at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, the national academy of fine and performing arts in Bangladesh. The play imagines a scenario in which Marx appears in the world of today and, we assume, gives us a piece of his mind. But we have to ask–does Zinn imagine him as one who has been revived from death (if so, we’d like to know if his opinions on religion have changed) or one who has lived to the present day (a lot hairier, smelly, etc.)? We need answers.

Keep guard on zombie Karl Marx.  By Paasikivi of Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47981028

Keep guard on zombie Karl Marx. By Paasikivi of Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

…All right, how are you faring? Ready to jump back into the fray? Best of luck on your papers and exams!

A Brief Word of Encouragement from Core

Greetings, Corelings. We hope you can take some time out of your busy schedule to watch this short video. It encapsulates all of our hopes that you will do the best you possibly can on your final exams and papers. You can do it! Hang in there! Good luck! Etc.

From The New Yorker: Literature’s Arctic Obsession

Down in New York, Kathryn Schulz has penned a penetrating article exploring the literature’s obsession with the arctic regions. What is it about the North Pole besides Santa Clause and cute polar bears which could have induced writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle to take in it such interest?:

arctic

In the nineteenth century, the Arctic, then still largely undiscovered, captured the imagination of the Western world. Illustration by Emiliano Ponzi

Conan Doyle was twenty when he left Peterhead and twenty-one when he returned. On Saturday, May 22nd, in the meticulous diary he kept during that journey, he wrote, A heavy swell all day. I came of age today. Rather a funny sort of place to do it in, only 600 miles or so from the North Pole. Funny indeed, for a man who would come to be associated with distinctly un-Arctic environments: the gas-lit glow of Victorian London, the famous chambers at 221B Baker Street, andfurther afield, but not muchthe gabled manors and foggy moors where Sherlock Holmes tracked bloody footprints and dogs failed to bark in the night. Shortly after returning from the north, and long before writing any of the stories that made him famous, Conan Doyle told two tales about the Arcticone fictional, the other putatively true. The first, in 1883, was The Captain of the Pole-Star, one of his earliest published short stories. In it, a young medical student serving as the surgeon on a whaling ship watches, first in disbelief and then in dread, as his captain goes mad. Although winter is closing in, the captain sails northward into the Arctic until his ship is stuck fast. Then, obeying a ghostly summons, he walks out alone to his death on the ice.

The good news is that as the earth gets warmer many of the problems faced by such writers as Doyle in the North Pole will be obviated. The bad news is that it will be all water and lose the fecundity it has hadas inspirationfor good writing.

Read her full post at The New Yorker

Reading the Romantics

Here follows the set-list of texts read at the Annual Core Poetry Reading, held this year on April 11, 2017 (this information is listed in the 2017 Core Almanac, part of the Core Journal published this year, Issue 26: http://bu.edu/core/journal/xxvi):

Weekly Round-Up, 4-28-17

Oh, hello. We didn’t see you there. We’re a little bit distracted by this week’s news. Why? Read on:

  • As you probably already know, the Core Banquet took place this Tuesday. Word & Way’s “Core on the Street,” unveiled for the first time ever at the Banquet, is now available on Youtube for your viewing pleasure.
  • A roughly 8-foot sculpture of Aristotle has been restored and returned to its rightful place in Assos–where, it is said, he opened the first-ever philosophy school–in Turkey after being vandalized over a year ago.
  • Imago Theatre of Portland, Oregon, presents a rather gruesome production of Medea, beginning April 21 to May 20. With limited props and a tilting stage, the play builds off of a 2014 version of the tragedy by written by Ben Powers.
  • Shakespeare’s plays face extinction because Americans are too dumb to understand his genius, fears Washington Post contributor Peter Marks. Meanwhile, the lesser-known Shakespearean play Timon of Athens, directed by Robert Richmond, will be taking place May 9 to June 11 at the Folger Theatre in D.C.

Wyndham Lewis's pen-and-ink drawing illustrating Timon of Athens. (Folger Shakespeare Library ART Box L677 no.7)

Wyndham Lewis’s pen-and-ink drawing illustrating Timon of Athens. (Folger Shakespeare Library ART Box L677 no.7)

  • Moreover, the Southeastern Teen Shakespeare Company is setting its own production of Much Ado About Nothing in 1959 America. This Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the Pensacola Opera Center in Pensacola, Florida.
  • To top it off with more Shakespeare news, the American Shakespeare Center of Staunton, Virginia, hopes to find plays that vibe off of and are inspired by Shakespeares work”–all 38 of them. And we know at least some of our Corelings have written Shakespeare fanfiction. Now is your time to shine!

That’s all for today! We hope that your last week of classes of the semester goes swimmingly!

Core on the Street: Four Minutes of Intensity

If you could not attend the Core Banquet this past Tuesday, then you missed this enlightening four-minute creation brought to us by our very own Word & Way Society. “Core on the Street,” hosted by Chloe Hite and edited by Priest Gooding, features many of our beloved Corelings. Impersonations, Q&A, synced audio, AND MORE await.

From The TLS: Who was the first modern philosopher?

Like the enlightenment, modernity is an umbrella term that is useful for what it covers but also in danger of excluding thinkers or ideas that might deserve the label. A.C. Grayling’s new book, The Age of Genius, devotes itself in part to answer the question of what exactly we mean when speaking of modern philosophy. Most people believe that Descartes is the first modern philosopher because they think he is. But the issue isn’t so arbitrary:

Two ancient Greeks walk past a pile of drunk philosophers by what looks like the Acropolis. (Conde Nast TagID: cncartoons024458.jpg) [Photo via Conde Nast]

Two ancient Greeks walk past a pile of drunk philosophers by what looks like the Acropolis. (Conde Nast TagID: cncartoons024458.jpg) [Photo via Conde Nast]

But plausible claims to the title could also be made on behalf of Thomas Hobbes, Francis Bacon or (several decades earlier) Michel de Montaigne, all of whom made original and significant, but very different, contributions to what A. C. Grayling refers to as the modern mind. On the other hand, we might want to save the founders honour for some figure later than Descartes, someone whose thought seems more familiar to us, less influenced by Scholasticism and less informed by theological assumptions and ostensible religious motivations say, John Locke, with his radically empiricist theory of knowledge; or Baruch Spinoza, the most iconoclastic thinker of his time; or, even later, the sceptical atheist David Hume.

The reviewer, Steven Nadler, is nettled that Graylingomits proper treatment of Baruch Spinoza while gabbling about less relevant philosophers. The debate goes on, which one may

Read in full at the Times Literary Supplement