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Don’t Bother Betting on the Nobel Prize for Literature

Haruki Murakami
Perennial Nobel favorite Haruki Murakami (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File) Bernat Armangue—ASSOCIATED PRESS

The bettors always predict Haruki Murakami (and they're always wrong)

Maybe it’s because there are way more people who read books than there are people who follow developments in chemistry. Maybe it’s that people like betting, and betting on literature feels more edifying than going to the racetrack. Either way, this week brings the culmination of the speculation around the Nobel Prize in Literature, to be awarded tomorrow. As ever, the chatter is focused around betting on British site Ladbrokes, where, as of this writing, Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiong’o is the odds-on favorite, with Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami pulling a close second. This despite the fact that, speculation aside, the winner is a closely held secret — and the fact that, in recent years, the winner has been someone entirely unexpected.

This speculation is nothing new for Murakami, in fact; he was a favorite among bettors last year, followed by Canadian short-story writer Alice Munro and American scribe Joyce Carol Oates. Munro ended up beating odds only slightly stacked against her and picking up the prize, as did Chinese writer Mo Yan in 2012, when Murakami was, again, the frontrunner. This compilation of bettors’ favorites compared to actual winners by The New Republic indicates just how rare it is for the odds to favor actual winners. The predicted winner is, with some consistency, more famous and more traditionally “awardable” (less experimental, say) than the actual winner. The widely-honored Syrian poet Adonis is often the predicted winner, but Nobels often go to writers that thrive on controversy, like Harold Pinter, or write shockingly explicit books, like Elfreide Jelinek, or work in obscurity, like Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio.

There are names that consistently appear, year after year, in Nobel speculation — Murakami, Adonis, Oates, Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth, Bob Dylan. And their recurrence, as well as the very act of Nobel Prize betting, demeans both the winners and the losers. The Nobel Prize for Literature has for decades now been peculiar and idiosyncratic, as likely to go to a radical playwright or little-read poet as to a more renowned writer. But bettors engage, year after year, in magical thinking, that this will be the year that Murakami or Adonis, about as successful and respected as a novelist and a poet can be, will get an award. When they lose, it becomes a disappointment, and the winner, whoever that is, looks like an interloper.

The Literature Nobel is more fun to speculate upon because literature itself is so subjective; unless prizes for chemistry or physics, with their empirical evidence, one person’s great leap forward for writing is another’s failed experiment. But excitable coverage of the Ladbrokes betting should be taken both with a grain of salt, as it’s usually wrong, and a sense that the real fun of the Nobel is its serendipity. The real frontrunner for the prize, if history is guide, is someone we’re not thinking of — an exciting twist ending.

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Everything You Need to Know About J.K. Rowling’s New Project

The Harry Potter spinoff caused a social media scene this week—here’s why

Harry Potter fanatics worked tirelessly this week after J.K. Rowling posted an anagram on her Twitter account that hinted at her latest project. And it took just 24 hours for a Potter super fan to solve it.

Though fans thought (and probably hoped) the author might be hinting at more Harry Potter books, she was referencing a Potter spinoff: The screenplay for the first movie in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them trilogy. The screenplay is based on a book that once only existed in the wizarding world and served as a textbook at Hogwarts. But in 2001, Rowling published a copy under the pseudonym Newt Scamander with money from sales going toward Comic Relief, a U.K.-based charity.

The anagram was not an actual part of the script but a synopsis of Newt’s story, which Rowling has said kicks off in New York around the year 1920.

“‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world,” Rowling said in a statement late last year. “The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, but Newt’s story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry’s gets underway.”

Though Potter fans are familiar with the wizarding world, little is actually known about Scamander. According to the “About the Author” section of the book, he was born in 1897 with his interest in fabulous beasts encouraged by his mother, “who was an enthusiastic breeder of fancy Hippogrifs.” Scamander, who spent his years at Hogwarts as a Hufflepuff, later worked for the Ministry of Magic in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. He also worked in the Office for House-Elf Relocation and in the Beast Division, creating the Werewolf Register in 1947 and the Ban on Experimental Breeding, “which prevented the creation of “new and untamable monsters within Britain.” He also worked for the Dragon Research and Restraint Bureau, which led to many research trips abroad.

These trips abroad will most likely set the scene for the film, and with chapters on Thestrals, Hippogrifs, Norwegian Ridgebacks, Merepeople and Werewolves, the movie should prove to be another exciting adventure.

The film is set for release on November 18, 2016 and will be produced by David Heyman, who produced all the Potter films, and directed by David Yates, who directed Harry Potter films Order of the Phoenix and Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Warner Bros. has also noted the new trilogy will inspire potential additions to the Harry Potter park at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

While Scamander’s story will not sync up with Harry’s, it’s worth noting that his grandson, Rolf Scamander, married Luna Lovegood, a member of Harry’s crew who made an appearance alongside her husband in Rowling’s surprise story posted to fansite Pottermore in July. Emma Watson’s Potter character Hermione won’t have even been born during the time the film takes place, but the actress has said she’s up for a cameo nonetheless.

If you’d like to brush up before the film is released, Albus Dumbledore, who penned the forward to the book, writes that the edition can be purchased for two galleons at Flourish and Blotts as well as in Muggle Bookshops.

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30 Self-Help Books That Permanently Changed My Life

Dimitri Otis—Getty Images

If you met me in high school or college, you would not recognize me as the self-assured chick I am today. I owe it all to these 30 books

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

I was the kid in high school who agonized over whether I had interacted with the popular girls the “right” way as we passed in the hallway between classes. Every moment a potential minefield or humiliation. To seem stupid. To look like a loser. There was this fakey hug-kiss thing that started when I was a freshman that was so hard for me to not feel like a dork when I mimicked. I mean, I didn’t feel comfortable in my own too-tall skin let alone embracing someone else, all the while trying to act as if I, you know, actually felt good about myself or something.

It was all so stressful. I would fret when someone looked at me the wrong way, if a teacher said a potentially critical thing (because obviously one’s entire worth as a human being is determined by academic accomplishments), or most mortifying of all, if a “friend” who talked to me in private then gave me shade when a more cliquey group of girls passed our way.

I felt wrong, wrong, wrong.

I don’t know how much was nature and how much was nurture, but I know I was a very sensitive, hyper-aware kid who felt things very intensely. This physical makeup was also molded by a dysfunctional, boundary-less childhood with some trauma along the way.

Then, everything in my life and perspective dramatically changed — when I got divorced at the age of 30.

The dark wrongness now permeated everywhere in my life, and somewhere along the way I think I realized: If everything is wrong, then maybe nothing is.

This is when I first wholeheartedly gave the whole stupid embarrassing oeuvre of self-help a chance.

God, how glad I am that I did.

My brain is totally different now and I know that I control my happiness — not anyone outside of myself.

P.S. One quick contextual anecdote before I get to The List. I dated a guy once who said, very concerned as he saw me poring through some of these books, “It’s like one day you’re into this self-help author and the next you’re into another one. I mean: What’s next?” I believe he was afraid that I was addicted to seeking, which I do think can be an actual problem (see: Scientology), when you don’t trust your own self and intuition, but I also disagree with his thesis.

You would never say to an MBA student: “One day it’s this course, and then the next day it’s this other one. I mean: What’s next, statistics?” I think that investment in your own personal development is one of the best investments you can ever make in your own life and happiness, even if isn’t cool to admit to doing so.

My progress from a weepy self-hating paralytically over-apologetic constantly worrying shy chick to a person who is quite the opposite is absolute testament to that, I believe. (Also: Having done Caron Institute’s exquisite Breakthrough Program, I wholeheartedly recommend their suggested reading list as well. It is excellent.)

And here’s mine.

1. “The Breakout Principle — This audio book got me through my divorce. I used the principle of “severing” immediately when I found myself going into a trauma cycle by drawing a picture (changing my state) or going for a walk or taking a shower. It also taught me (through legit scientific examples of functional MRI) that when you work your brain intensely, by giving it a break, you’re giving yourself a chance for the “a-ha” moments to come to the fore.

2. “Awaken the Giant Within — Goofy Tony Robbins. He’s ridiculous, sure, but he’s also boiled down a ton of cognitive theory about how to change your interior world view, and he gives incredible motivation that can offer critical fuel in the very toxic at times world we live in.

3. “The Secret — Take it with a major grain of salt. All I know is that when I started employing the whole law of attraction hocus pocus, I saw results again and again. Is it placebo? Fine. I’ll take it. Are people responsible for their own cancer? Nope. That’s looney-pants.

4. “You Can Heal Your LifeandYou Can Heal Your Life: Workbook — My favorite. My absolute favorite. I buy this book for people on the street sometimes. If you don’t change the way you talk to yourself — or continue slogging yourself down with criticism — nothing will change.

5. “The Road Less Traveled — This book almost made me break down it hurt so much at times to read. All of the advice the author gives to parents for teaching children about their inherent value above all else — and categorizing the two fundamental neuroses of the world (you either think YOU are responsible for all the world’s problems or you think the WORLD is responsible for yours) — hit spot on. No one said self-awareness and looking within was easy, but it’s worth the discomfort. I promise.

6. “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem — Another book I will randomly buy for strangers. I like my self-help books like I like my math: straightforward, logical and broken down into units. I listened to this book after a year of sobriety, and I could feel my backbone strengthening.

7. “Many Lives, Many Masters — Self-help? Maybe not, but this book gave me incredible peace about death in a way I never dreamed possible. It also contains the beautiful analogy of our souls being shined like diamonds amidst the pressure along the way.

8. “A Return to Love — An atheist comic friend, who I had a 48-hour-romance with, recommended this book to me and told me just to ignore “all the Holy Spirit mumbo jumbo.” I love that. My atheist ex-boyfriend saw me reading the book one time and said, “Ah, Marianne Williamson. So what does that charlatan have to say for herself now?” God I do love atheists. They’re so fucking funny. So, sure. Like “The Secret,” there’s a lot of woo-woo hoo-hoo. But it gave me peace. It helped me get better at loving myself. Two things which aren’t easy to do.

9. “How to Survive the Loss of a Love — This is one of the most popular self-help books ever written. Millions sold. It is very sweet. One of the only books to gently, as a person might, take your hand and help you through the grieving and mourning process: whether the death be an actual person, a relationship, a job, or even a past incarnation of yourself.

10. “Use Your Body to Heal Your Mind — This book taught me how to do EMDR on myself and also helped me to understand to stop bartering for love. I’m getting better. That’s all I ask.

11. “Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie — Even if you don’t read the book, the Cliff Notes version of her work is worth checking out, or as this Oprah blog on it asks: “Can these 4 questions change your life?” My mom and I listened to this one together, and it was very epiphany generating. Essentially, it helps you break down all those assumptions that might be screwing you up by helping you “turn it around.” Crying that your partner isn’t giving you enough love? Break it down using her process, and you might end up examining how YOU aren’t giving enough love. Challenging, in the best way possible.

12. “Waking the Tiger — A dear friend gave me this book, and it altered the way I looked at my body’s responses. For instance, I jump out of my seat at any loud noise, just like my father who is a combat vet. I have in the past started to cry when someone seemed to care and give me love genuinely, because it was hard for me to take. This book is a wonderful mind-body connector.

13. “Courage to Change — Even if you don’t do Al-Anon, if you’ve had any kind of dysfunction in childhood, this book reads as if it was written directly for you. So nurturing and life changing.

14. “Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing” — I do not care for a lot of Carolyn Myss’s stuff, but this book has always stayed with me. Particularly the idea, the metaphor, of the “cell tissue” you are expending through lower-energy emotions of jealousy, hatred, bitterness, etc. If you like spiritual works, you may find this book healing.

15. “Zero Limits — “I love you, I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you.” These four sentences as a little prayer of offering are explained as a “secret Hawaiian system” to all wonder of prosperity. I say it to myself quite often when I’m walking my dog or even as an alternate to stressful thoughts that seem to come on like a panic attack. It’s a beautiful clearing, just like doing one of my favorite meditations, the Metta Bhavana.

16. “New Psycho-Cybernetics — Written by a plastic surgeon who dealt with so many people who wanted to cut themselves up because they hated what was inside, he knows of what he speaks.

17. “Your Erroneous Zones — One of the original Wayne Dyer books. It’s quite simple, but like some of Tony Robbins’ takes on dealing with emotions, and choosing the way you use them, it’s incredibly practical and positive.

18. “A New Earth — Can there be such a thing as addiction to misery? Absolutely. Give this fakey-guru a chance and soak it in. You’ll be glad you did.

19. “Women Who Love Too Much — Crappy relationship after crappy relationship where you put up with abuse and keep trying to “fix” someone? Read this puppy.

20. “Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts — So, so ridic, including making a damn mold of your vagina out of Play-Doh or some shit, but I swear to God, if you need to give yourself some sexy energetic female juju, this book is a good kick in the pants. Bubble baths! Candles! Weeee!

21. “A Gentle Path Through the 12 Steps — If you’re interested in recovery, this is a classic. Even if you’re not in recovery, the 12-step principles can be very practically applied, especially the idea of “turning it over.” Doesn’t even need to be to God. Can simply be to just “forces of good.” Letting go is everything. And so damn easy to forget.

23. “7 Habits of Highly Effective People — Do you like what I’m writing, reader? Tell me about that. I’m interested in what you have to say… (Ha-ha, gotcha! Just used a principle.) So it’s hokey and a little schmarmy, but hey, if you’re not naturally Mr. or Ms. Charisma by nature, this book will help you learn how to deconstruct the scariness of intimidating social situations.

24. “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway — I bought this ridiculous, yet helpful, book when I was 20 years old. It was a start. It helped.

25. “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind — Kind of like an early version of “The Secret.” For some reason, it speaks to me. I tried it the night that I read it, thinking to myself, “I’m going to wake up at 8 a.m. tomorrow,” and do you know that I woke up at exactly 8 a.m.? Ha. Yes, that miracle alone is reason enough to recommend.

26. “Love is Letting Go of Fear — This is a quick, beautiful little book. Illustrated and sweet, and definitely the title says it all, but like many of the simplest truisms, can be so hard to integrate into your consciousness. The psychologist who wrote this helps you do that, and the entire book feels like a hug to the soul.

27. “iWant — Know that tabloidy CNN anchor who got sober and then became a lesbian? She wrote this book. It was on the “free shelf” at The Post where I picked it up. Free meaning a publicist sent it, and whichever reporter received it discarded it for anyone who might be interested. I picked it up in my early days of sobriety, and it helped me a lot to read someone who worked in my field talking about the whole upheaval-inducing (in a positive way) process.

28. “The Wounded Heart — If you have any kind of sexual abuse in your past, this book is a must. Stop what you are doing right now and purchase it. I’ve never felt some of my dysfunction related so compassionately to me before as when this author explained about the “weed” of abuse becoming entangled in the “rose” of sexuality, and how the human reaction can be to hate yourself for wanting to be loved. Gorgeous.

29. “The Four Agreements — God this book helped me. Mostly the idea of not taking things personally, something I suck at quite often. Many folks do, I think. The book is boiled down here, which is definitely worth a glance. If you can come from that place of not taking things personally (and the other three agreements are stellar as well), your happiness will increase a hundredfold.

One caveat for “not taking things personally”: I do think that there are people who (be they sick or suffering or perhaps clinically sociopathic) are not good-hearted, well-intentioned people. (Fuck, just read “The 48 Laws of Power” or “The Art of Seduction” if you want a little primer on that.) So in those cases of the baddies, I always say STILL don’t take it personally — but protect yourself.

Here’s how: Stop trying to win the unwinnable and do what you need to do to take care of yourself. For me, in the past, that’s meant just agreeing with a sadistic boss, “Oh I agree, yes, yes. I’m wrong, yes, yes, I agree, uh-huh, you’re right, absolutely,” even when I knew the fighting wasn’t fair. My friend Jessica Delfino actually wrote a song about my tactic called “Nod, Smile and Apologize.” I took care of myself, didn’t take it personally and just got through. Life ain’t fair, kiddos. Use what tools you have.

30. “Handbook to Higher Consciousness — Last but not least, I found this gem on my parents’ bookshelves. They met when they were getting their masters in counseling at San Diego State University so they have a plethora of crap like this tucked away they’ve never actually read. My favorite idea from this book is the very Buddhist notion that all unhappiness in life stems from your addiction of what you EXPECT to happen and how things “should” be. Let go of that sucker, and boom: Freedom.

Honestly, this list was incredibly hard to put together because I wanted to include so many other books also lodged permanently in my subconscious. Like, even, “The Game” by Neil Strauss, which while largely about picking up women provides awesome bullshit-zapping tactical training for women and also boils down tons of NLP and confidence-boosting skills for those who struggle with shyness or social intimidation.

Strauss’s buddy, the semi-conman-ish (but filled with terrific ideas) Timothy Ferriss also wrote a classic in “The 4-Hour Workweek,” which is worth it for the email and media condensing advice alone. Another embarrassing-ish book I like? Well, the subtitle on “Why Men Love Bitches,” which is “From Doormat to Dreamgirl” explains why that book has a soft space in my heart pretty clearly I think.

I also like “Change or Die,” which pinpoints the reason change is so hard for so many: The human egoic fear that to change would to be to admit that You Might Have Been Doing it Wrong All Along. By that token, zeitgeist-plunderer and idea-man Malcolm Gladwell’s books are all worth the effort, especially the chapter on predicting the failure or success of relationships in “Blink.”

I’m also a big fan of quoting the Olympic athletes who visualized their routines beforehand who then won the gold medal anecdote from “The Success Principles” as a justification or motivation for imagining something going well. (I do it with career all the time; now I just need to be better about doing this in my dating life.)

Gary Zukav’s “The Seat of the Soul” is magnificent, and I only read after Jane Lynch recommended it in her lovely, self-help-riddled (in a good way) autobiography “Happy Accidents.” Lynch also loves “Goddesses in Everywoman,” which is fascinating and thought-provoking and leads me to look at Persephone archetypes in my own life to this day.

Also, special thanks to my Facebook friends for helping me remember “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” a book that I was blanking on and spent a half hour Googling “wheelchair,” “motorcycle,” “paralyzed” and “inspirational movie” to no avail tracking it down — and really loved. At the least, watch the Amazon Instant DVD if you’re looking for a shot in the arm of inspiration (unless you are a born and bred cynic, which means I’ll probably love hanging out with you, but yeah this movie is probably not for you).

So… what books have had the most impact on your life (even if they’re not classically stocked in the “personal development” row, or whatever that hidden way, way in the back section at Barnes & Noble is called nowadays)?

What books on this list do you absolutely despise? Let me guess. “The Secret,” right? I feel you. With all of these books, please know I’m recommending with that old unofficial 12-step-ism, “take what you like and leave the rest.”

Mandy Stadtmiller is Editor-at-Large at xoJane.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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Sinead O’Connor Will Reveal All in a Memoir

The controversial singer will document her career as well as dishing the "sexual dirt" on former lovers

Irish singer and known rabble-rouser Sinead O’Connor is penning a memoir, her publisher announced on Wednesday.

According to a press release about the still-untitled project, the memoir will cover O’Connor’s early life in Ireland, her breakout and rise to fame, as well as her current career.

The autobiography will presumably include notorious incidents such as the time O’Connor tore up a photograph of Pope John Paul II during a Saturday Night Live appearance in 1992, her subsequent booing in Madison Square Garden during a Bob Dylan tribute concert just days later, and perhaps even her open letter to Miley Cyrus. No matter what, the “Nothing Compares 2 U” singer has already promised that the book will include a lot of juicy details about her personal life.

“I’ve never stopped expressing myself in my music, and now, with a book,” the 47-year-old singer said in a statement. “And I look forward to dishing the sexual dirt on everyone I’ve ever slept with.”

The book, which will be published in the U.S. by Blue Rider Press, is slated for a March 2016 release.

[NYT]

 

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J.K. Rowling’s Mysterious Riddle Was Solved

Author J.K. Rowling attends a photocall ahead of her reading from 'The Casual Vacancy' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Sept. 27, 2012 in London. Ben Pruchnie—Getty Images

And it had nothing to do with new Harry Potter books

About 24 hours after author J.K. Rowling posted an anagram on her Twitter account, a fan has finally solved the puzzle.

Emily Strong—a PhD student at the University of Sheffield who regularly updates her own blog and describes herself as a lover of “all things Harry Potter” in her Twitter bio—tweeted the solution at the Harry Potter author on Tuesday afternoon: “Newt Scamander only meant to stay in New York for a few hours.”

Rowling confirmed her answer within two minutes:

The anagram, according to TIME’s own interactive anagram solver, does indeed check out. It’s a reference to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a Harry Potter spinoff that will soon hit the big screen as a trilogy.

Despite saying in her initial tweet that she was busy working on a novel and the screenplay for Fantastic Beasts, Rowling chimed into Twitter throughout the last day offering hints (“The solution is the first sentence of a synopsis of Newt’s story”) and rejecting wrong answers. Though fans thought the author might be hinting at more Harry Potter books, alas, she did not confirm a return of The Boy Who Lived.

After congratulating Emily Strong on unscrambling the anagram, Rowling thanked everyone for participating:

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Harry Potter Fans Think This Is The Answer to J.K. Rowling’s Riddle

Getty Images

Harry Potter might be making a comeback

Updated Tuesday, Oct. 7

Harry Potter fanatics are putting their heads together to try and solve a riddle J.K. Rowling posted to Twitter on Monday that seems to be in the form of an anagram. Rowling is certainly no stranger to anagrams, as they come up often in the Potter series: With Lord Voldemort’s name, the triwizard tournament and the Mirror of Erised.

Speculation swirled, of course, that Rowling was hinting at another Potter novel. Considering July’s short story she posted to fansite Pottermore about Harry and crew in their thirties sparked similar rumors, a new wizarding world book didn’t seem too far off.

Rowling joined in on the fanatic fun by providing a slew of hints, which reference fictional character Newton Scamander, the author of the book that’s inspiring the film trilogy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, for which Rowling is penning the screenplay.

But fans seem to think the anagram could actually be about the return of Harry himself. Fans posted on Reddit, Twitter and Facebook a solution that reads:

“Harry returns! Wont say any details now. A week off. No comment.”

While this doesn’t quite add up with Rowling’s hint, it does unscramble the words. If Harry made his return to the page, though, the actor who played him in the film series wouldn’t be slipping back into his robes, as he’s repeatedly said he won’t reprise the role. But Emma Watson, who played Hermione, said she’d be up for a cameo in the Fantastic Beasts trilogy.

See if you can solve the anagram yourself with TIME’s interactive solver.

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Drunk Poetry Fans and the First Reading of ‘Howl’

Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg in 1965 Jim Johnson—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

Oct. 7, 1955: Allen Ginsberg reads 'Howl' for the first time, at San Francisco’s Six Gallery

Before Allen Ginsberg invoked the ire of authorities with the frank (and frequent) depiction of sexual acts in “Howl” — “in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses’ rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely petticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too” — he stunned a crowd of drunk poetry fans at San Francisco’s Six Gallery.

On this evening in 1955, Oct. 7, Ginsberg performed the piece in public for the first time at a poetry reading which had been advertised by a postcard proclaiming: “Remarkable collection of angels all gathered at once in the same spot. Wine, music, dancing girls, serious poetry, free satori.”

The wine and the satori — deep understanding, in the zen sense — went hand in hand. In his novel The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac fictionalized the event with a description of circulating gallon jugs of California burgundy among the increasingly raucous crowd, “getting them all piffed so that by eleven o’clock when Alvah Goldbrook [Ginsberg's stand-in in the novel] was reading his wailing poem ‘Wail’ ['Howl'] drunk with arms outspread everybody was yelling ‘Go! Go! Go!’”

Those who were there said the reading felt like a revolution — poet Michael McClure said that it pushed the art form past the “point of no return” — but critics gave the poem mixed reviews. The poet James Dickey called it “a whipped-up state of excitement,” but scolded that “it takes more than this to make poetry.” Poet and critic Paul Zweig was more reverential, saying that “Howl,” “almost singlehandedly dislocated the traditionalist poetry of the 1950s.”

Government officials, meanwhile, found it intolerably vulgar. When it was published about the year after that first reading, U.S. Customs agents seized Howl and Other Poems when it arrived from its London-based printer on grounds that it was indecent and obscene; San Francisco police arrested Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who published it, and Shigeyoshi Murao, manager of City Lights Books, who sold it.

Mid-century America simply wasn’t ready yet for Ginsberg’s offer of free satori, it seemed. In 2007, on the 50th anniversary of the poem’s obscenity trial, Ferlinghetti told the New York Times he believed the charges were related less to the poem’s four-letter words than to the revolutionary ideas it expressed.

A San Francisco judge (and Sunday school teacher) later exonerated both the men and the poem, ruling that Howl had “redeeming social importance.” He may not have supported its ideas, but he was a stickler for self-expression: “Would there be any freedom of press or speech if one must reduce his vocabulary to vapid innocuous euphemism?” the Times story quotes from Judge Horn’s 1957 opinion. “An author should be real in treating his subject and be allowed to express his thoughts and ideas in his own words.”

Hindsight would confirm the judge’s wisdom. In 1985, TIME’s R.Z. Sheppard noted that, “the man once feared as a weevil in the nation’s moral fiber is in a disarming state of equilibrium. Cultural norms have adjusted in Ginsberg’s favor since 1956, when he disturbed the peace with Howl.

Read the 1985 piece about the poet, here in TIME’s archives: Mainstreaming Allen Ginsberg

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Just Because a Hate Crime Occurs on the Internet Doesn’t Mean It’s Not a Hate Crime

Hate Crimes in Cyberspace
Hate Crimes in Cyberspace

Danielle Citron is the author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace.

Let's talk about nude photo leaks and other forms of online harassment as what they are: civil rights violations

Over the past few weeks, a prominent—and nearly all female— group of celebrities have had their personal accounts hacked, their private nude photos stolen and exposed for the world to see. Friday brought the fourth round of the aggressive, invasive, and criminal release of leaked photos.

Whether the target is a famous person or just your average civilian, these anonymous cyber mobs and individual harassers interfere with individuals’ crucial life opportunities, including the ability to express oneself, work, attend school, and establish professional reputations.

Such abuse should be understood for what it is: a civil rights violation. Our civil rights laws and tradition protect an individual’s right to pursue life’s crucial endeavors free from unjust discrimination. Those endeavors include the ability to make a living, to obtain an education, to engage in civic activities, and to express oneself—without the fear of bias-motivated threats, harassment, privacy invasions, and intimidation.

Consider what media critic Anita Sarkeesian has been grappling with for the past two years. After Sarkeesian announced that she was raising money on Kickstarter to fund a documentary about sexism in video games, a cyber mob descended. Anonymous emails and tweets threatened rape. In the past two weeks, Sarkeesian received tweets and emails with graphic threats to her and her family. The tweets included her home address and her family’s home address. The cyber mob made clear that speaking out against inequality is fraught with personal risk and professional sabotage. Her attackers’ goal is to intimidate and silence her.

Revenge porn victims face a variant on this theme. Their nude photos appear on porn sites next to their contact information and alleged interest in rape. Posts falsely claim that they sleep with their students and are available for sex for money. Their employers are e-mailed their nude photos, all for the effort of ensuring that they lose their jobs and cannot get new ones.

Understanding these attacks as civil rights violations is an important first step. My book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace explores how existing criminal, tort, and civil rights law can help combat some of the abuse and how important reforms are needed to catch the law up with new modes of bigoted harassment. But law is a blunt instrument and can only do so much. Moral suasion, education, and voluntary efforts are essential too. Getting us to see online abuse as the new frontier for civil rights activism will help point society in the right direction.

Danielle Citron is the Lois K. Macht Research Professor & Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. She is an Affiliate Scholar at the Stanford Center on Internet and Society and an Affiliate Fellow at the Yale Information Society Project. Her book, Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, was recently published by Harvard University Press.­­­­

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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5 Shocking Secrets That Celebrities Revealed in Autobiographies

2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival - Night 2 - Press Room
One Direction poses in the 2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival - Night 2 Steve Granitz—WireImage

We hope the One Direction memoir is just as scintillating as these five classics

Tuesday marks the release of the One Direction’s autobiography Who We Are — that’s one memoir for all five of them, which we guess means they’re officially a single entity — which promises to provide, per the publisher’s description, “intimate insights” into their lives. But, considering the band’s need to appeal to young fans, it’s hard to believe that the revelations will be all too shocking.

Not that it never happens: celebrities have been known to disclose jaw-dropping tidbits of what happened behind the scenes.

Here are five controversial moments revealed in the highest-brow genre of all genres: The celebrity autobiography.

Christina Crawford, Mommie Dearest
Crawford’s hard-hitting 1978 memoir was one of Hollywood’s first and darkest celebrity tell-alls. Predating the film, Mommie Dearest outline’s Joan Crawford’s abusive parenting — including beating her daughter after discovering she had hung her clothes on wire hangers in the closet. While the “no more wire hangers!” line has become kitsch since the release of the film, its revelation in the autobiography was chilling.

Melissa Joan Hart, Melissa Explains It All:
The fact that Hart didn’t like her animatronic cat co-star Salem on Sabrina The Teenage Witch only scrapes the surface of the shocking revelations of Hart’s tell-all. The former child star claims to have taken Britney Spears to her first club, hooked up with Ryan Reynolds and done her fair share of making out with girls while on hard drugs on the way home from a Playboy Mansion party.

Andre Agassi, Open
The tennis star admits to lying about using crystal meth in 1997. He writes: “I snort some. I ease back on the couch and consider the Rubicon I’ve just crossed. There is a moment of regret, followed by vast sadness. Then comes a tidal wave of euphoria that sweeps away every negative thought in my head. I’ve never felt so alive, so hopeful — and I’ve never felt such energy. I’m seized by a desperate desire to clean. I go tearing around my house, cleaning it from top to bottom. I dust the furniture. I scour the tub. I make the beds.”

Rosie O’Donnell, Celebrity Detox
The 2007 memoir tackled everything from O’Donnell’s difficult relationship with Barbara Walters on The View — and with Donald Trump in essentially every medium — to dark times in her childhood. O’Donnell reveals that she used to break her own limbs using a baseball bat and wooden hanger, “My hands and fingers usually. No one knew. It was a secret…[as] proof I had some value, enough to be fixed.” O’Donnell hints but doesn’t expand on another potential motivation: “There were many benefits to having a cast. In the middle of the night, it was a weapon.”

Morrissey, Autobiography
Sure, Morrissey writes about his first relationship with a man (at 35), falling victim to an attempted kidnapping and his near death during childbirth. But the real stunner is the fact that he could have had a role on Friends and said no. He writes, “I am asked if I’d jump in on a newly jumbled plot-line with the character Phoebe in the Central Perk diner, where I am requested to sing ‘in a really depressing voice.’ Within seconds of the proposal, I wind down the fire-escape like a serpent, and it’s goodbye to Hollywood yet again.”

Read TIME’s original review of Mommie Dearest here, in the archives: Joan Crawford’s Other Life

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J.K. Rowling Teases Fans With Cryptic Tweet

Author J.K. Rowling attends a photocall ahead of her reading from 'The Casual Vacancy' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Sept. 27, 2012 in London. Ben Pruchnie—Getty Images

Can you solve the conundrum in the Harry Potter author's tweet?

Updated 12:40 p.m. ET

J.K. Rowling fans are not strangers to riddles and anagrams. The Harry Potter series’ villain created his name–Lord Voldemort–by making an anagram of the name he was born with. And there were tons of hidden riddles and anagrams throughout the Potter series: The poison potion riddle that could stop Harry and co. from getting to the sorcerer’s stone, the golden egg hint during the Triwizard tournament, and the inscription on the Mirror of Erised.

But now fans have a new one to solve. Rowling, who’s typically active on Twitter, hopped on the social media platform on Sunday after a brief absence to let fans know what she’s been up to.

The screenplay is undoubtedly that of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a Potter spinoff and trilogy. But when a fan expressed excitement over what that mysterious unnamed novel might be, the bestselling author chimed in, writing: “See, now I’m tempted to post a riddle or an anagram. Must resist temptation… must work …”

Clearly, she wasn’t working terribly hard, as early Monday morning she returned to Twitter with a mysterious conundrum:

What could it mean? Speculation is swirling, and Potter fans are jumping at the idea that she could be hinting at another Potter novel. Rowling sparked rumors of more Potter adventures in July with a short story updating fans on what Harry, Ron, Hermione and others were like as thirtysomethings.

Fans haven’t seemed to solved it just yet. And Emma Watson, who played brainiac Hermione in the Potter films, hasn’t joined the conversation either, but Rowling offered hints via Twitter for fans eager to solve it referencing fictional character Newton Scamander, the author of the book that’s inspiring the film trilogy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

If only we could hop in the Prefects Bathroom, the answer might just come to us easily. In the meantime, you can give it your best shot with TIME’s interactive anagram solver. The winner gets 50 points for Gryffindor.

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