Cultural resistance to the influence of advertising on popular music may be at a forty-year low, but there is still plenty of music that remains practically if not ideologically detached from “commercial interests.” More…

Here are some of the words in Mantel’s Cromwell novels: Guiles, argent, couchant. Estoc. Exsanguinates. Fuckeur. There is hunting; there is jousting. There are sconces, velvet cushions, jellies in the shape of castles, and stuffed piglets. There are songs that can only be described as bawdy. More…

Amis seemingly can’t resist having his characters comment on the state of the language. Throughout his novels, they give impromptu lectures on etymologies and points of usage. His dialogue is autotelic: it tells us how it should be read. But London’s informal accent has changed over the years, and Amis’s ears have not stayed open to it. More…

The last few years have been good for hip hop nerds, bringing along with the usual mixtapes and albums an unexpected load of books. It began with Jay-Z’s deluxe coffee-table memoir Decoded. Then there was My Infamous Life by Albert Johnson, otherwise known as Prodigy of Mobb Deep, and an autobiography by Common. Ice-T has added to the pile, and Fifty Cent has released a young adult story about bullying. (He’s against it.) More…

Throughout the 20th century, Parmar argues, the weak state was supplemented by private foundations, which took on many of the functions of government. Unelected, unaccountable, and for the most part unchecked, these foundations channeled billions of dollars into positioning the United States as a world power. Immune to the vicissitudes of democratic politics, they functioned as a shadow government. More…

Purpura takes the act of attention to extremes, staying and staying—with an object, a thought, a moment—in order to get closer to some place of deep stillness. She works her way through the fleeting impressions the world presses into her mind in order to arrive at new knowledge about what it means to have a mind capable of engaging in this activity at all. More…

The language has the simplistic truthiness of therapy, rather than the complex precision of poetry. But there is no reason to doubt that Winterson is telling the truth. So why doesn’t Mars-Jones believe Winterson? Because she sounds too self-confident. “Martyrs at the stake have spoken with more diffidence,” he writes. Apparently one can only have a change of heart if shy and uncertain. More…

A tremendous amount of desire is expressed in The Swerve. It is the desire, first and foremost, to present the modern age as a definitive solution to the human problem. Greenblatt wants Lucretius to be telling us it is OK to love the world and to be engaged with one another in the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. More…

To close-read the news reports was to be impressed by the suggestive quality of their syntax. As ABC phrased it, Eugene “had to be shot four times by a police officer to halt the cannibalistic attack.” That resignation—“had to be”—is a sort seldom used in reference to humans. It’s your sick pet that “had to be” put down, not your sick brother. More…

When ExxonMobil returns to the spotlight, many of the stories are of an organization with the extraordinary political access, security, and legal and financial resources one expects from the world’s largest company. But ExxonMobil in Coll’s portrait just as often ends up far from the transnational, omnipotent force of the popular imagination. More…

And all of us know perfectly well that our fossil-fueled civilization isn’t built to last; we also know that we need to effect a deliberate and graceful transition to another energy regime or suffer a chaotic and violent interregnum. The ignorant as well as the informed know this. You could write a Walt Whitman-style poem about this obvious thing that everybody knows. More…