Q: What’s the Buzz? A: The carbon footprint of data server farms, Violent Women in Books, and Fiction Inspired by The Smiths.

Adding more fuel to the print versus digital fire, from the NY Times Papercuts, by Jennifer Schuessler, “In Defense of Dead Trees” posted February 25, 2010, Schuessler covers the environmental hazards of both mediums:

…“There are a lot of things that newsprint can do uniquely well that the Web cannot,” Eggers recently told The Chicago Tribune. “The two forms could coexist, instead of the zero-sum situation that we seem stuck in.”…

Read entire article

And on a completely different note, Sam Tanenhaus considers how artists have been caught unawares with Dr. Bishop’s story and the violent nature of women in “The Amy Bishop Case: Violence that Art Didn’t See Coming” from NY Times, published February 24, 2010:

When Ezra Pound declared in 1934 that “artists are the antennae of the race,” and Marshall McLuhan 30 years later called them people “of integral awareness,” both were using modern terms to update the ancient belief that works of the imagination might actually require a talent not only for invention but for attunement — for picking up signals already in the air. This is why the most forceful narratives and dramas seem less made up than distilled. They clarify events and experiences taken directly from the actual world…

…It is not news that so-called senseless acts often unfold along the coordinates of an inner logic. This is what makes criminal violence so attractive a topic for artists and thinkers. The Western literary tradition, from Shakespeare to Dostoevsky, teems with pathologically violent men. Norman Mailer and Truman Capote wrote nonfiction masterpieces about them. They dominate the novels of Don DeLillo and Robert Stone, not to mention films by Sam Peckinpah, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese.

But the landscape of unprovoked but premeditated female violence remains strangely unexplored…Read entire article

Firstly, is it a fair comparison to turn a literary light on real life? Assuming it is, then if Tanenhaus is considering the Western literary tradition of criminally violent human nature then shouldn’t he widen his scope beyond American Fifties to present? What of the Greeks whose women and goddesses were anything but the passive, submissive, docile, and ideal, idolized creatures that were churned out since Christianity united the Kingdoms, reigning supreme from the Middle Ages through Dickens’ time?

If we want to examine why and how women are portrayed in literature, we need look no further than our religious beliefs. Most violent women in books purposefully defy Christian, and therefore mainstream, conventions, think of the murderous Tess of D’Ubervilles, terrible Catherine Earnshaw, Morrison’s Beloved, and Mukherjee’s Leave it To Me. Consider their much earlier predecessors who stood outside the Christian realm, like Medea or The Bacchae. Violence in women is shrouded in Christian doctrine. Every once in a while an author dares to lift the veil.

Lastly, two dozen writers share their work inspired by The Smiths covered by Peter Wild’s book Please: Fiction Inspired by the Smithsinterviewed by Guy Raz on NPR’s All Things Considered, aired February 27, 2010:

Mr. PETER WILD (Author, “Please: Fiction Inspired by The Smiths”): (Reading) If you’d had your heart broken, if you thought you loved someone and she wouldn’t give you the time of day, if you had a thing with someone and it didn’t work out, if you bumbled, felt crap, thought that the person staring back at you at the mirror more closely resembled a gargoyle than the person you thought you were, you know, inside, if you’re a teenager basically, the argot of The Smiths was the articulation of your every inadequacy.

Hear the interview


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