Total knowledge is impossible

Zadie Smith: LIVE from the NYPL, 11/22/10 (web | iTunes)

I’ve never read Zadie Smith, but I love her sensibility and she’s brilliant. The talk bounces around topics of reading (all the time, apparently), literature (including Nabokov, Barthes, George Eliot, George Saunders, Woolf), reality, writing, criticism, hip-hop, graphic novels, self-making… and settles into a long-ish discussion of her recent article about Facebook. That article is a must-read, including the description of FB as “500 million sentient people entrapped in the recent careless thoughts of a Harvard sophomore.” 

Memorable quotes (the headline of this blog post):

I think you have to put yourself in the way of things you wouldn’t normally be in the way of, and to be honest that’s the main reason I teach. If you’re in a room with 12 people under the age of 25, they’re gonna force you to read things you don’t want to read, watch films you don’t want to watch, to look at things on the Internet you don’t want to look at, and that’s all positive to me. It’s just the feeling of being around younger people with different ideas, that challenge your ideas, I need that.


The job of the novel has always been to slow you down…  it’s just a different way of being in the world.

Stay tuned… there’s another NYPL talk of hers on the web… I think I’ll be getting to it soon.

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