"The more fields of knowledge you cover, the greater your resources for improvisation." At Aeon, Robert Twigger praises polymaths, describes why industrialization and divisions of labor encourage us to rebel, and writes that Leonardo da Vinci was "as proud of his ability to bend iron bars with his hands as he was of the Mona Lisa."
"This is what a writer's life comes to." J. Michael Lennon's biography, Norman Mailer: A Double Life, is out, and with it a few compelling reviews. At Salon, Allen Barra asks why Mailer wrote fiction at all; at the London Review of Books, Andrew O'Hagan writes a "confessional review" with a few memorable scenes from a trip to visit Mailer in Provincetown in 2007.
Word of the week: "dogfooding." The New Republic's Nora Caplan-Bricker explains the etymology of a tech-world verb, and says other imitators—"icecreaming" and "drinking our own champagne"—didn't take off.
Faulk-tails! Via Robert Moor at the Paris Review: "The key to a toddy, according to Faulkner, is that the sugar must be dissolved into a small amount of water before the whiskey is added, otherwise it 'lies in a little intact swirl like sand at the bottom of the glass.'" It is getting cold out there, folks.