BURN PILE: Ben Lerner on vandalism and art; Slate on unacknowledged acknowledgements; so long, "E"

LetterE_CC When visual aesthetics bury letters: "The letter E was born in the late 8th century BC in Athens, Greece," writes Joshua David Stein in his obituary for the fifth letter of the alphabet. "His father, the Phoenician letter He, died between 323 BC and 31 BC. E travelled widely throughout the Western world." Pay your respects, writers.

Murdering the classics: Ben Lerner's superb piece in Harper's, "Damage Control," revisits the scenes of memorable acts of art vandalism—from Vladimir Umanets' signature on a Mark Rothko painting to Pierre Pinoncelli's multiple run-ins with pieces by Marcel Duchamp—as he explores the uncomfortable relationship between ideas of creation and destruction. "Like some kind of village idiot," he writes, "a vandal takes literally what we're only supposed to pretend to believe: anything can be art, traditional media must give way to conceptual performance, and  the money-hungry art world must be subject to ruthless critique." While someone has posted a PDF here, we also encourage you to support the source, and read more on Lerner.

Where credit is due: Looking for inspiration for your "Acknowledgements" page?  Consider this piece from Slate's Meredith Carpenter and Lillian Fritz-Laylin, which collects a few underacknowledged gems from the ends of academic papers. For instance: "Order of authorship was determined from a 25-game croquet series held at Imperial College Field station during summer 1973." You'll want to read to the end, of course.