Genealogy’s next phase, which is quickly approaching, is actually its end game. The massive accumulation, digitization, and accessibility of data combined with recent advances in DNA testing mean the questions we have about our families — who they were, how they got here, and how they’re related to us — will soon be instantly solvable. Realistically, the pursuit of family history as it exists now probably won’t be around in 20 years: most of the mysteries are disappearing, and fast.
So, who are we? How did we get here? Where did we come from? And where are we going?
Some thoughts on the transformation DNA testing has wrought (and will wreak) on family research.
Maud Newton: We’re here to talk about The Liars’ Gospel, which is a great, great book, but first, if I understand this correctly: you were just in Cuba with Margaret Atwood?
Naomi Alderman: We climbed up into the mountains where Che Guevara hid during the Cuban Missile Crisis to see the Cuban Solitaire (a bird); we took boats through the Zapata Swamp; and our bus broke down on the way from the Zapata Swamp at a police checkpoint where Margaret Atwood and I sat on the steps and talked about God.
MN: Oh, to be a gecko on the wall! What else did you talk about?
NA: My new novel is…well, I have bitten the bullet and admitted that it is a feminist science fiction novel of the 1970s and ’80s, of the kind people wrote a lot then, but don’t seem to anymore.
During the worst dark nights of the soul, my smaller failings rise up one by one in a chorus of metallic voices: that unwritten, obligatory important letter; my tipsy, laughing, unintentional, klutzy faux pas booming into a sudden silence; the failure to speak when speaking would have helped someone…
These things are much worse to recall than any of my gigantic, life-changing mistakes. Those are boulders too big to see all at once, hulking, unmoving, and strangely safe, whereas the little things generate a cascade that turns into an avalanche. They’re all connected to one another somehow, neurochemically, so that remembering just one of them sets off a chain reaction sparking all the way back through the decades with increasing urgency until I’ve looped through my entire life, all the way back to the first one, which now seems worse than ever in light of all the others.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s personal financial ledger is now available online, including categories such as “Money Earned by Writing since Leaving the Army” and “Zelda’s Earnings.”
Among the revelations: Fitzgerald was a terrible speller, he was equally bad at arithmetic, and he earned less than $2000 for the original publication of Gatsby. (via)
Great supplement to Fitzgerald’s notebooks. (“Books are like brothers. I am an only child. Gatsby my imaginary eldest brother, Amory my younger, Anthony my worry. Dick my comparatively good brother but all of them far from home.”)
Molly Crabapple grew up thinking of art not as “something where you had to get an MFA from Yale then schmooze people in New York,” but as a trade that paid the bills. Her mother—a single mom—illustrated toy packaging for products like Cabbage Patch Kids and Holly Hobby. “Being an artist was how my mom fed me. … It was an almost working-class way to make a living.”
She’s carried this attitude with her. Although Crabapple is respectful of many who’ve gone through formal, higher training she finds the idea that you can apply credentials to art “morally objectionable. Art is a trade, and creativity and talent is a gift. … What people are essentially saying now, when they’re saying oh, you have to have an MFA to be a legit artist, is you have to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to be a legit artist, and to me, that’s so revoltingly classist.” There are many ways to make a living through art, Crabapple says, “and the Internet’s really magnifying that.”
For the New Republic, I write about art after Occupy Wall Street, Molly Crabapple’s view of art as a trade and creativity as a gift, and her politically charged work, including the massive paintings of her new show, “The Shell Game,” which Chris Hayes calls “bracing, exuberant altarpieces for the revolution.
“ It is an effective poem but in its entirety not right for us, for reasons which you doubtless appreciate.
A feverish E.B. White is haunted by his late dachshund (who probably wasn’t really a dachshund):
I am lying here in my private sick bay on the east side of town between Second and Third Avenues, watching starlings from the vantage point of bed. Three Democrats are in bed with me: Harry Truman (in a stale copy of the Times), Adlai Sevenson (in Harper’s), and Dean Acheson (in a book called A Democrate Looks at His Party). I take Democrats to bed with me for lack of a dachshund, although as a matter of fact on occasions like this I am almost certain to be visited by the ghost of Fred, my dash-hound everlasting, dead these a many years. In life, Fred always attended the sick, climbing right into bed with the patient like some lecherous old physician, and making a bad situation worse. All this dark morning I have reluctantly entertained him upon the rumpled blanket, felt his oppressive weight, and heard his fraudulent report. He was an uncomfortable bedmate when alive; death has worked little improvement — I still feel crowded….
I find it difficult to convey the peculiar character of this ignoble old vigilante, my late and sometimes lamented companion. What was there about him so different from the many other dogs I’ve owned that he keeps recurring and does not, in fact, seem really dead at all?
From “Bedfellows,” Turtle Bay, February 6, 1956, collected in the Essays of E.B. White.
Over at Twitter, Susan points out that the pup pictured is Suzy, not Fred.
“ The Constitution’s framers had it right. Soviet-style repression is not necessary to diminish authors’ output and influence. Just devalue their copyrights.
Pictured: E. M. Forster, 1961; James Baldwin, 1964; Janet Flanner, 1966; Joan Didion, 1972; Thom Gunn, 1981; W. H. Auden, 1963.
Transcendent. Bachardy’s book, Stars in My Eyes, includes portraits of Iris Murdoch, Bette Davis, David Bowie, Ginger Rogers, Henry Fonda, Ingrid Bergman, Laurence Olivier, Helmut Newton, Laurence Olivier, Allen Ginsburg, and many others.
You can see the influence of Christopher Isherwood, his longtime partner, in his descriptions of the subjects.
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