Arts, Culture & Media

Sometimes it's best to keep a mystery mysterious

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Tantek Çelik vis Flickr

In this week's World in Words podcast, we pry open (but not too wide) a mystery or two.

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0:10 Nina Porzucki and Pien Huang tell their mysterious day stories. Both involve monks living in the mountains.

3:02 Me on the pleasures of incomprehension. It's all down to DH Lawrence and David Bowie. 

5:49 Cartoon Queen Carol Hills on how her Twitter followers help her curate foreign-language cartoons. If you like cartoons and satire, you absolutely must follow Carol on Twitter.  

Carol Hills gets help from her Twitter followers to translate cartoons from around the world. A rough translation: "The [Tunisian National Dialogue] Quartet discussing how to share the Nobel Peace Prize money."


Courtesy Willis from Tunis, Tunisia

7:10 At the of Carol's obsession list right now is Japanese manga artist Shigeru Mizuki, who died on November 30. 

9:05 Mizuki's English translator Zack Davisson on how Mizuki saved Japan's supernatural culture. 

10:37 Mizuki's influence in Japan is akin to Disney's in the US. "If you removed him from the equation, you would actually have a different Japan."

12:27 The many mysteries of the "Codex Seraphinianus" by Luigi Serafini, a encylopedia of a fantasy world, written in an imagined script. (Nina is working on an entire podcast episode on this!).

17:53 "China Online" by Veronique Michel demystifies (though not completely) Chinese wordplay and netspeak. 

20:01 "Lingo: a Language Spotter's Guide to Europe" by Gaston Dorren is a funny and opinionated whistle-stop around Europe's languages, large and small.


Courtesy of Europa Editions

21:55 "Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness" by Jennifer Tseng, a novel about a librarian living on an island who harbors an infatuation for a high school student. I'm not letting on what happens, except to say there's plenty of exploration of the mysteries of love and friendship. By the book's end, though, mysteries they remain. Quite right too.

Music heard in this episode

“Dramamine” by Podington Bear 

"Blackstar" by David Bowie

"The Resolution of Mr Clouds" by Alexander Boyes

"Life on Mars?" David Bowie

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National Endowment for the Humanities

With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities