Thursday, April 24, 2014
  • Last month, I spent an evening wandering through a mystical forest, desperately trying to move through the fog to find a clearing between the trees. I felt more and more anxious as I explored the wooded maze, haunted by the sounds the forest’s insect and avian inhabitants as I walked down the winding paths.
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  • When a friend says to you that she finds a piece of music deeply moving, you might assume she is referring to some intensely personal experience rooted in her unique psychological makeup. What’s more, you may sense that the effect she describes is one she cannot fully spell out, and indeed, the term “deep” often stands in for something that eludes explanation.
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  • On an island off the coast of Tunisia, on the periphery of the Jewish village of the Hara Kebira, three Jewish teenage girls in bathrobes and slippers pass through a gauzy curtain to visit Nisreen, a, the Muslim hairdresser. The girls treat the space almost like their homes, chatting casually, leaving to check the chicken on the stove, coming back and peering in to see if anyone interesting has stopped in.
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  • Facing a blank canvas or blank page is a moment of pure potential, one that can be enervating or paralyzing. It causes a pause, a hesitation, in anticipation of the moment of inception—even of one that never comes.
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  • The cluster of ideas, meanings, and implications associated with Web 2.0 has been amalgamating for the better part of a decade, steadily consolidating to the point where few would deny its cultural significance.
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  • What is work? Why do we work? How is work valued? These questions are fundamental to any human society. Without a written record, we cannot know with certainty how the earliest humans thought about work, but the importance of sharing food and other resources means that prehistoric work embodied at least an element of serving the needs of a community rather than just those of an individual and his or her immediate family.
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  • Béatrice, a Franco-Belgian expatriate, lives in the gated community of Stanley Knoll, named after the explorer Henry Morton Stanley, in a house that overlooks Hong Kong Bay.
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  • Ten or twelve years ago, when I was visiting Berlin, Stan Persky took me to see Cranach the Elder’s painting of the Fountain of Youth at the Gemäldegalerie. It is a medium-sized canvas that depicts, in excruciating detail, a rectangular swimming pool seen in perspective full of happily cavorting men and women.
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  • When I moved to the Hudson Valley from the desert southwest, where I had made my home for five years, I knew I would miss those wide western skies—a cliché, I know, but a good one—under which I could hike for hours and not see another person.
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  • At a Pittsburgh gallery in 2006, artist Keny Marshall exhibited 3D Pipes, an elaborate, freestanding installation of aged metal plumbing. “Everybody’s got 3D Pipes on their computer,” said Marshall in an interview.
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  • Can the upper class speak? There are signs that it cannot. Maybe this sounds silly, but if you are still in the market for a future for literary criticism, the accurate description of what the upper-class sounds and looks like might be a good place to start.
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  • Depending on your position, the phrase ‘film theory’ can refer either to a critical rigour informed by mainly European intellectual currents, or a ponderous and parasitic dependence on certain schools of thought, particularly psychoanalysis.
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  • When we speak of literature, we should not imagine that we are speaking of some stable and enduring Platonic entity. The history of literature has always been about its highly mutable institutions, whether bookstores, publishers, schools of criticism, or, for the last half century, the mass media.
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  • Consider what comes first to mind when one thinks about handcrafted ceramics. I myself would venture that many people's initial vision of a handmade vase would involve some aspect of irregularity: perhaps a bold one-of-a-kind design, an imperfectly round rim, a slight asymmetry in the body, or a glaze that acts unpredictably in the kiln.
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  • It is mid-afternoon, the breaking point of daylight, when I finally reach the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo and walk down a curving ramp in a long white tunnel. I am there to find a two-year-old girl named Rosalia Lombardo who died in 1920.
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  • For Jaypee, the road to Formula 1 began more than four years earlier, in January 2003, when the company was awarded a contract by the UP government to build what’s now known as the Yamuna Expressway.
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  • The first thing I didn’t write about quitting Facebook was a status update to my friends saying, I’m quitting Facebook. I also did not write a proposal for the nonfiction book I imagined, which was about quitting Facebook.
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  • During the decades (more than three) that I've been studying the Renaissance, it has changed considerably. I can remember the flood in Florence in 1966, and the general horror and will to help that followed. One hundred people died, a humanitarian disaster of a lesser scale than the 230,000 tsunami victims of 2004, yet consternation at the cultural impact was certainly high.
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  • In 1909, after a six-day journey from Vienna with his associates Carl Jung and Sándor Ferenczi, Sigmund Freud arrived in New York Harbor and spent a week sightseeing in the city. He had traveled to America to give a series of lectures on his “talking cure” at Clark University in Massachusetts.
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  • Joseba Elola’s long, scraggly hair, dark beard, and mottled features give him the look of the kind of guy you might find smoking hash in a plaza or drinking first coffee and then beer all day long inside a smoke-filled restaurant in the fashionably run-down Madrid neighborhood of Lavapíes, epicenter of the city’s anarchist subculture.
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  • Marat Gelman is a well-known Moscow cultural figure. In 2008 he went to curate the Museum of Contemporary Art in provincial Perm, where his ideas for a cultural revolution have encountered considerable local opposition. Arguments about art soon developed into a fully-fledged political battle.
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  • The history of music is marked by a few, fleeting, magical moments: 1957 in New York jazz, 1962 in Liverpool, 1967 in San Francisco, 1970 in Detroit, the mid-’70s at CBGB ,1990 in Seattle.
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  • A book deal is a big deal; those who have gotten one will make a point, as they should, of highlighting the achievement. A writer and an author.
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  • Why, I asked, had collective violence more or less disappeared from the streets of American cities? Alienation, marginalization, youth unemployment and distrust of the police – these, surely, were as prevalent in American cities as in urban France.
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by Albert Rolls
The pun on “drugs,” in a somewhat obvious way, calls attention to and undermines the division between substances that contribute to the formation of the freak community and those prescribed by doctors, as does Pat Dubonnet’s disappointment with a career reduced to “penny-ante collars, kids under the pier dealing their moms’ downers”.
by Kristen Zipperer
There are very few Urdu writers who have written about these despondent days in Pakistan’s history, with perhaps one notable exception. Intizar Husain is a novelist and short story writer whose work takes an unrelenting look at man’s attempt and ultimate failure to keep his humanity during the post-Partition period.
by Daniel Bosch
Even before the camera slowly swings upward from her mouth to her eyes, even before we realize that those are not opaque black pits but irises, the first frames of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo have made us conscious of how a camera and a screen limit and fix visual perception — even with all their jump cuts, films concentrate better than we do. And so it is strangely a relief to fall as we do into the pupil of the eye that Hitchcock’s camera enters.
by Stephen T. Asma
In his 1790 Critique of Judgment, Kant famously predicted that there would never be a “Newton for a blade of grass.” Biology, he thought, would never be unified and reduced down to a handful of mechanical laws, as in the case of physics. This, he argued, is because we cannot expunge teleology (goal-directedness) from living systems. The question “what is it for?” applies to living structures in a way that has no corollary in physics.
by Eric Schneider
Were Philadelphia police different? In some ways, yes; in other ways, no. City police may not have exchanged their badges for the white hoods of vigilante groups, but a nearly completely white police force held the same racial prejudices of the Philadelphia neighborhoods from which they were recruited.
by Russell Bennetts
Wittgenstein certainly regarded himself as a philosopher, and certainly believed in the fundamental truth of what he was saying. So it would be a misleading oversimplification to maintain that he was “against philosophy” or against “the possibility of philosophical truth”. More accurately, what he criticized was a certain kind of philosophy – perhaps the dominant kind in the West.
by Michael B. Katz
The biological definition of poverty reinforces the idea of the undeserving poor, which is the oldest theme in post-Enlightenment poverty discourse. Its history stretches from the late eighteenth century through to the present. Poverty, in this view, results from personal failure and inferiority. Moral weaknesses – drunkenness, laziness, sexual promiscuity – constitute the most consistent markers of the undeserving poor.
by Volker M. Welter
Following a map for a driving tour along Palm Spring’s mid-twentieth century Modernist homes and buildings, I had just peeked at Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House, the rebellious sibling from 1947 of Frank Lloyds Wright’s Fallingwater House in Pennsylvania, which was begun for the same client in 1935. Figuring out on the map where to drive to next, a house whose owner was identified as Dr. Franz Alexander caught my attention.
by Albert Rolls
Consider, for example, the Pynchon anecdotes told by the television producer Deane Rink — who attended Cornell a few years after Pynchon and studied creative writing under Walter Slatoff, with whom Pynchon had also studied. Rink tells his stories as part of an early Web exercise in which he sent emails for publication to the B&R Samizdat Express at the end of 1996, when he was in McMurdo, Antarctica, to work on Live from Antarctica (1997) for PBS productions.
by Cain Todd
In an effort to be interdisciplinary, and to keep up with the current trend for all things neuroscience, I recently attended a conference in Berlin on neuroaesthetics. One of only two philosophers in the room, I found myself on the receiving end of an incredibly hostile attack after asking a question of the founding guru of the discipline, the neuroscientist Professor Semir Zeki of University College London.
by Frank R. Stockton
In the very olden time there lived a semi-barbaric king, whose ideas, though somewhat polished and sharpened by the progressiveness of distant Latin neighbors, were still large, florid, and untrammeled, as became the half of him which was barbaric. He was a man of exuberant fancy, and, withal, of an authority so irresistible that, at his will, he turned his varied fancies into facts. He was greatly given to self-communing, and, when he and himself agreed upon anything, the thing was done.
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