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Take This Voice
Listening to Tina Turner, the chatbot novelist, and more
June 1, 2023
In this week’s issue of Public Seminar, the Past Present team explores Tina Turner’s musical legacy, India Lena González discusses poetry as choreography, Lincoln Michel queries just how much ChatGPT will change literature, and Andrew I. Port unpacks an important shift in the way Germany related to genocide after the Holocaust.
“In the fall of 1976, Walther Freiherr Marschall von Bieberstein, a West German diplomat who headed the Foreign Office’s Department of International Law, sent an irate letter to Jürgen Wohlrabe, a prominent member of the Christian Democrats in Berlin. The Khmer Rouge had turned Cambodia into a ‘giant concentration camp,’ the diplomat fumed, and its leaders ‘hardly differed’ from those who had run Auschwitz—a word and place long synonymous with the industrial mass murder of the Jews.” In an excerpt from Never Again: Germans and Genocide after the Holocaust (The Belknap Press, 2023), Andrew I. Port examines how a new reckoning with the Holocaust impacted German responses to genocide in Cambodia. (May 22, 2023)
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The Text Has a Mind of Its Own
In Episode 8 of Multi-Verse, India Lena González shares her poem “ACT ! pose with fingers as though cigarette (puff puff)” and chats with Evangeline Riddiford Graham about writing as choreography, the politics of casting, and the exhilaration and exhaustion of Samuel Beckett. Sometimes we crave escape from repetitive, constrictive theatre of our daily actions, whether they take place on or off the stage—but as González points out, “Then the question for the performer, and for anyone living, is: Leave and go where?”(May 31)
“Scams and grifts were inevitable with chatbots. Hell, Amazon was already overrun with plagiarized books and books compiled by web-scraping bots long before ChatGPT. The more interesting question is how readers will respond to attempts to write real books with chatbots.” Lincoln Michel surveys the pitfalls and possibilities of using artificial intelligence to generate literature. (May 24, 2023)
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A Life in Music
For nearly 70 years, Tina Turner was a music icon. In the latest episode of Past Present, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil J. Young discuss the life and legacy of the genre-defying singer, who passed away last week. (May 30, 2023)