weekend links: CIA agents, Van Jazmin, No Idea

Van Jazmin
Van Jazmin

A live-action club drawing by Van Jazmin. Image courtesy LA Weekly and the artist.

Have you ever given thought to the similarities between the novelist and the CIA agent? Jennifer DuBois has, and after reading her experiences applying to be a secret agent and an MFA candidate, you will give new respect to the intellectual rigors of the writer’s trade—and you’ll start wondering which of your friends might be agents in disguise. [Lapham’s Quarterly]

Zadie Smith discusses Schopenhauer, the uncanny valley, and a bizarre trip to the Central Park Zoo in her review of Anomalisa, Charlie Kaufman’s brilliant 2015 film. If you haven't seen Anomalisa yet, you shouldn't read Smith’s essay. Instead, you should go watch Anomalisa. (But seriously, spoilers abound. You've been warned.) [NYRB]

Doubleday Executive Editor Gerald Howard gives some insight into the publishing industry in this essay, in which he basically confirms that everything you suspected about the high life of NYC publishing is true. He also uses it as an opportunity to berate contemporary readers for ignoring Thomas Mann’s classic The Magic Mountain, an admonition which we join him in making. If you haven’t read it, you are truly missing out. [The Millions]

Kendrick Lamar delivered a much-lauded performance at the Grammy awards, giving millions reason to reconsider watching the Grammys for the first time in ages. Some took umbrage, however, at the reaction Lamar received, as opposed to the criticism Beyoncé received from some quarters for her Super Bowl performance, which made white audiences uncomfortable in similar fashion. This is not necessarily new criticism, but it’s worth reconsidering. [Medium]

Illustrator Van Jazmin grew up barefoot on an Appalachian farm. Now he creates freeform impressionist drawings of LA club culture. We're quite fond of his blue “coke diet” piece. [LA Weekly]

The No Idea Festival, which runs through Sunday in Austin and Monday in Houston, unites aural experimentalists and improvisers from around the world. Fortunately, these are not the kind of improvisers  you have to pretend to laugh at. [Austin Chronicle]

And speaking of the world’s live music capital: a 2015 report concluded that Austin lost 1200 music industry jobs over the last five years. In response, Mayor Steve Adler has proposed some measures to protect our artists and venues. A good first step, but we'll save our applause for when we see some concrete results. [KUT]

—Alyssa G. Ramirez and Sean Redmond

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