The evening included a race between a turtle and a lobster, a theatrical adaptation of "A Room With a View" (starring Badaude as Miss Lavish and yours truly as Mr Eager) and a description of Notre Dame from the Wallpaper Guide to Warsaw:
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, at the Barnard commencement last week:
So my hope for all of you here, for every single one of you, is that you’re going to walk across the stage and get your diploma. You’re going to go out tonight or maybe all summer and celebrate. You deserve it. And then you’re going to lean way into your career. You’re going to find something you love doing, and you’re going to do it with gusto. You’re going to pick your field and you’re going to ride it all the way to the top.
So, what advice can I give you to help you achieve this goal? The first thing is I encourage you to think big. Studies show very clearly that in our country, in the college-educated part of the population, men are more ambitious than women. They’re more ambitious the day they graduate from college; they remain more ambitious every step along their career path. We will never close the achievement gap until we close the ambition gap. But if all young women start to lean in, we can close the ambition gap right here, right now, if every single one of you leans in. Leadership belongs to those who take it. Leadership starts with you.
The next step is you’re going to have to believe in yourself potentially more than you do today. Studies also show that compared to men, women underestimate their performance. If you ask men and women questions about completely objective criteria such as GPAs or sales goals, men get it wrong slightly high; women get it wrong slightly low. More importantly, if you ask men why they succeeded, men attribute that success to themselves; and women, they attribute it to other factors like working harder, help from others. Ask a woman why she did well on something, and she’ll say, “I got lucky. All of these great people helped me. I worked really hard.” Ask a man and he’ll say or think, “What a dumb question. I’m awesome.” So women need to take a page from men and own their own success.
That’s much easier to say than to do. I know this from my own experience. All along the way, I’ve had all of those moments, not just some of the time; I would say most of the time, where I haven’t felt that I owned my success. I got into college and thought about how much my parents helped me on my essays. I went to the Treasury Department because I was lucky to take the right professor’s class who took me to Treasury. Google, I boarded a rocket ship that took me up with everyone else.
Even to this day, I have those moments. I have those moments all the time, probably far more than you can imagine I would. I know I need to make the adjustments. I know I need to believe in myself and raise my hand, because I’m sitting next to some guy and he thinks he’s awesome. So, to all of you, if you remember nothing else today, remember this: You are awesome. I’m not suggesting you be boastful. No one likes that in men or women. But I am suggesting that believing in yourself is the first necessary step to coming even close to achieving your potential.
What is A Tale of Three Cities? I'm so glad you asked. It's a new arts journal, launching this summer, and devoted to showcasing the writing, artwork, and genius miscellany of Europe's "golden triangle," London, Paris, and Berlin. ("If we were ever to make the triangle a square, I think NY would be the choice," says their editor Rosa Rankin-Gee.) They're open to submissions– find their submission guidelines here.
But more about the party. Having been to Chapter 3 last month, I can tell you that Le Carmen is one of those amazing spaces that you might imagine only exists in Paris if you've seen "Moulin Rouge!" too many times and have a thing for 19th century French prostitutes and absinthe. (We wouldn't blame you if you did.) Housed in the former home of Georges Bizet, author of the eponymous opera, Le Carmen features a human-sized birdcage, room after lushly lit room of gilded mirrors and intricate mouldings, and most importantly, a top-notch cocktail bar. The jaunty threesome behind the event (Rankin-Gee, Jethro Turner and Hanna Beširević) patrol the party to make sure everyone is having a delightfully literary time.
Here's how it works: you bring a book you don't mind giving away, and you trade it for a book some other person didn't mind giving away, and you hope for the best. Last time I brought James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime with me, but I had a devil of a time fobbing it off on someone. For some inscrutable reason my pitch ("Sex in France? Great writing?") was unsuccessful. Finally some lovely Swedish girl traded it for a French translation of a Doris Lessing novel. This time I will probably bring Chloe Aridjis's egregious Book of Clouds, because I just don't care to have it taking up space in my apartment. But I'm thinking that although the writing is pretty weak, since it's set in Berlin, it'll be an easy sell. (Which is probably what her agent and editor said, too.)
Details: Wednesday 25th May, from 8:30 pm, at Le Carmen, 22, rue de Douai 75009. Facebook invite here.
Robert Maggiori's Le Métier de critique, journalisme et philosophie, on the art of writing about ideas outside of the academy: neither pure journalism, nor pure philosophy, the "journaliste philosophique" is a métier marked by paradox and pressure:
Hanté par ce qu'il appelle le "syndrome de Garve" (Garve fut le premier à avoir fait connaître la Critique de la raison pure de Kant dans un article publié en janvier 1782), l'auteur se dit obsédé par la possibilité, humaine après tout, de passer à côté d'une Critique de la raison pure d'aujourd'hui, "d'un livre inaugural, d'un ouvrage qui marquerait une rupture épistémologique dans l'ordre de la pensée". Comme l'angoisse du gardien de but avant le penalty, l'angoisse du critique devant la pile de livres, où se cache peut-être l'immanquable manqué, est une condition de vie.
(Too busy to translate, sorry.) More in Les Inrocks.
Lauren Cerand on promoting books, philosophy, and an ethical love of beautiful things.
…changing the water tank of a water cooler. Have you ever done that? The tank is super super heavy and you’ve uncapped the bottom spout and you need to insert it into the hole where it goes so the water can flow through into the tank and be dispensed through those red and blue faucets, except the tank is so heavy and the hole is kind of narrow and so you’re using all your strength to maneuver, and as you heave it towards the hole the water shifts from top to bottom and makes that ghastly belching sound, and it’s the moment when you have no control over it, and it could slosh out everywhere or you could get it in the hole. And the whole time you’re doing it you’re like why me, why do I have to be the one to change the water cooler? Look at Ted over there, he never has to change the water cooler, why can’t my job be more like Ted’s?
Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed. I am not a fan of books.
Kanye West (via housingworksbookstore)
Sarah Manguso’s The Guardians goes to hell and back, just barely back, and ends with a tiny glimmer of uptick—not too much but not too little, either. It’s the only affirmation that anyone can offer: astonishingly, we’re here. The book majors in bone-on-bone rawness, exposed nerve endings. Without which, sorry, I can’t read anything. It always points simultaneously outward and inward: outward toward her friend Harris, who on p. 1 commits suicide; inward toward herself (she’s dead now, too). “It doesn’t mean shit,” an Italian security guard tells her Israeli friend about his passport, which is crucial, since Manguso is always asking, What if anything means shit? Nothing does, or rather everything, sub specie aeternitatis, is shit. How then to put one foot in front of the other? Well, let us investigate that. Life and death are in complete tension. (So, too, are Manguso’s vow not to make anything up and her promise that she will.) With The Guardians, I did something I do when I love a book: start covering my mouth when I read; this is very pure and elemental, and I wanted nothing coming between me and the page.
That's from a recent essay published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, and I have just two remarks: if the man can only read when a book "majors in bone-on-bone rawness," it must follow that Shields constantly walks around with his metaphorical bones and nerves exposed (ew), or that he doesn't do much reading. If I only read in that kind of heightened state of intensity my literary career would have burned out by the end of college.
In other words: settle down, David. Narrative is not the enemy.
A glowing review for the brillantissime Olivia Laing by Paul Farley in today's Observer:
A kind of desire to draw with, and be drawn by, the landscape informs Olivia Laing's first book. In 2009, a series of minor crises led Laing to the Ouse in Sussex. The river – like all rivers – has magnetic properties, and a reassuring sense of direction that appeals to those who've "lost faith with where they're headed". More than its geographical, material facts or its winding blue filament on an OS map, it provides a metaphor for time's eddy and flow, and for memory.
History hasn't crossed paths with the Ouse very often, and if we only know one thing about this river, it's likely to be that it was where Virginia Woolf drowned herself – wearing Wellington boots, fastening on her hat and filling her jacket pockets with heavy stones – in March 1941. Laing was aware of Woolf as soon as she first dipped her hand in the Ouse a decade ago, and began returning for walks and swims that "amassed the weight of ritual". Laing and the Ouse have history.
With Woolf as a presiding spirit, she undertakes to walk this 42-mile, ten-a-penny kind of English river that rises near Haywards Heath and empties into the Channel at Newhaven (City of the Dead, according to Woolf) from source to sea. Significantly, she chooses a week at midsummer, the year's hinge. The journey she records here feels like a clearing and a clarifying, bringing to mind the old Latin tag solvitur ambulando: literally, sorting it out by walking. She immerses herself in the landscape; she achieves that trance-like state "when the feet and the blood seem to collide and harmonise" that's conducive to writing.
Read more here.