Monthly Summary: December 2017

Detail from the frontispiece to the 1863 edition of Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire infernal

Some interesting links for the month:

  • Apparently, millenials “hate Capitalism”
  • My “long read” pick of the month: Lapham’s Quarterly has an article called The Ghost and the Princess, discussion Descartian origins of the mind-body split-view, the “princess” being Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, with whole Descartes corresponded on this subject (!)
  • On the economic/political “holding pattern” of the world right now
  • Late night comedy seems quite useless, almost overtaken by reality.
  • (this month’s art book pick) A “synthesis of the Enlightenment and the occult” in a hundred and fifty year old illustrated book, Jacques Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire infernal
  • The New Yorker found one of its fiction pieces was interpreted as journalism

When we look to our texts to teach us not how to think, but what to think, we suffer for it — as artists and consumers of art, but also as citizens. We further collapse the distinction between truth and lies, fact and fiction …

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Media Summary: November 2017

Some interesting links for the month:

Moscow 1968
Moscow, 1968

 

“Let me furnish the amusements of the nation and there will be need of very few laws,” P. T. Barnum, the great impresario of the circus, told the New York Sun in 1880. In his essay “Superman Comes to the Supermarket,” Norman Mailer noted a strange depression at the 1960 Democratic convention, which didn’t make any sense until he saw John F. Kennedy in the flesh:

“I understood the mood of depression which had lain over the convention, because finally it was simple: the Democrats were going to nominate a man who, no matter how serious his political dedication might be, was indisputably and willy-nilly going to be seen as a great box-office actor, and the consequences of that were staggering and not at all easy to calculate.”

We are now living in the world Barnum and Mailer predicted. The United States has become a histriocracy. We are ruled by celebrity. Whether or not Trump himself is in power will not change this fact.

  • Bit of a bizarre trivia piece from Atlas Obscura.
  • Trends come and go in campus politics
  • Since ‘nation-scale cyberattacks’ are in the imagination again, this piece on how it first happened in Estonia, in 2007.
  • I’m going to keep plugging Inherent Vice as something you should watch, this time through a Youtube montage.
  • Fun to hear Frank Herbert talk (!) about the “origins of Dune” (original recording, from Feb 1969)
  • If you still aren’t persuaded of the extra-ordinary intelligence of octopuses, read this
  • If you’re up for a long-form article on liberty, individuals etc. try this piece

For us, too, bearing the duties and responsibilities of freedom without being prepared for them poses great dangers, especially the danger of abandoning our liberty in return for security or the passing pleasures and distractions of our abundant age. This danger is avoidable only if we take the long way to liberty, the way that prepares us through the practice of responsibility and through the formation and refinement of our souls.

Media Summary: October 2017

Some interesting links for the month:

Aerial view of Ur, 1927.
Aerial view of Ur, 1927

Media Summary: September 2017

foucault-and-stoneman-n-death-valley
Foucault and Michael Stoneman in Death Valley.

Some interesting links for the month:

  • This right here is just … one of those things I can’t believe I hadn’t seen yet: a “breaking the fourth wall” sketch on Saturday Night Live about “The last voyage of the Starship Enterprise” (filmed in May 1976).
  • This long article was less about millennials and perhaps more about pop culture, but certainly caused the phrase “premium mediocre” to stick in my head.
  • If I had the time, I would be playing Uncharted. The latest one, ”The Lost Legacy” is out, and is apparently both eye-catching and a well-told story.
  • Speaking of things I haven’t watched for lack of time, the new ”Twin Peaks” has got good reviews.
  • In City Journal, someone muses about “Silicon Valley vs Gotham” (missing the latter).
  • A biography of Alex Honnold, the chap who climbed El Capitan with no tools (seems surprisingly normal).
  • An interview with someone who accompanied Michel Foucault on his trip through California and Death Valley.
  • I’m going to leave this title here without comment: ”Why is linguistics such a magnet for dilettantes and crackpots?”
  • Andrew Sullivan asks: Can our democracy survive tribalism?
  • You either get very excited about stuff like this, or you don’t: a bunch of papyrus was discovered from during the time the great pyramids were being constructed! (so, mundane “normal life” stuff, along with mundane details of the build, but … isn’t that cool?)

Media Summary: August 2017

 

Image 9-14-17
Freaky cloud, over a town in Brazil.

Some interesting links for this month:

I’m not saying that many of these tools, apps, and other technologies are not hugely convenient. But in a sense, they run counter to who we are as human beings.

Media Summary: July 2017

Some interesting links from the last month:

Media Summary: May 2017

Random stuff from last month: