paper trail

The "right to be forgotten"...

J. G. Ballard

It’s not clear how Google will be adhering to a May decision that gives European citizens the "right to be forgotten." The company restored links to two Guardian stories (about a soccer referee’s lies about a penalty decision) that it had previously removed, but has not done so with a BBC story about the ousting of Merrill Lynch CEO E. Stanley O’Neill.

The New Inquiry has launched a “flash fundraiser”: If the magazine can raise $25,000 by August 1, an anonymous donor will match the amount.

On the occasion of the British reissue of J. G. Ballard’s Crash, Zadie Smith concludes that she didn’t understand it the first time she read it. It’s “an existential book about how everybody uses everything. How everything uses everybody.” But that isn’t exactly bad: “There is always this mix of futuristic dread and excitement, a sweet spot where dystopia and utopia converge. For we cannot say we haven't got precisely what we dreamed of, what we always wanted, so badly.”Crash also appears in a recent Bookforum syllabus on “weird sex.”

The novelist Colum McCann was attacked in Connecticut after trying to assist a woman he witnessed getting assaulted. The New York Times story about the incident spends a lot of time wondering why he doesn’t have more empathy for his attacker given that he’s someone “known” for the emotion. Either the Times writer has a starry-eyed view of the moral capacities of novelists or he’s making brilliantly deadpan fun of McCann, who started an organization that emphasizes “radical empathy” and was attending a conference of the organization (called Narrative 4) the same weekend. We deplore the assault (in which McCann’s jaw was broken) but can’t help enjoying the latter interpretation of the article.

Geoff Dyer close-reads a photograph of a D-Day veteran visiting Normandy Beach. “No matter what we do in our lives, we’ll end up as old geezers who no one wants to listen to. It’s the implacable revenge weapon of the aged, the biological equivalent of the Enigma decrypts: They know what’s coming.”