Friday, October 21, 2011

Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.
-Alfred Hitchcock

The 19th-century social network. To enjoy the crowd, Baudelaire told us, one must have masks. His love of observing was at war with his fear of being seen...

We live in a world where information is potentially unlimited. Information is cheap, but meaning is expensive. Where is the meaning?

Pinker the Prophet The Better Angels of Our Nature
Hitler, Stalin, Mao – three reasons to question moral progress. But has cynicism blinded us to a worldwide decline in belligerency?

WITH THE United States fighting two wars, countries from Tunisia to Syria either in or on the brink of intrastate conflicts, bloodshed continuing in Sudan and reports that suicide bombers might foil airport security by planting explosives within their bodies, it is hard to be cheerful. But Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker tells us that we should be, that we are living in the least violent era ever. What’s more, he makes a case that will be hard to refute. The trends are not subtle—many of the changes involve an order of magnitude or more. Even when his explanations do not fully convince, they are serious and well-grounded.

Why Violence Has Declined [ Showmanship and luck, but also a taste for secrecy and controversy. Most of all, be a blank slate: What makes a good prophet? ; The Alice books have been interpreted to death: an allegory of Darwinism, a tale of toilet training, a story of sexual desire. All miss the point. Tolstoy of the nursery.; Politics of personality. How to explain William F. Buckley? He had ideas, of course – 50-some books. But what mattered was his charm]
• · . The Jewish wit and the morose anti-Semite shared a friendship and a compulsion: extreme frankness. When Groucho Marx met T.S. Eliot; For Philip Larkin, letters were a crucible in which to refine his poetry. They were also the venue for airing regrets... I’m sorry that our lovemaking fizzled out
• · · Politics between the sheets. Revolutionaries must be monomaniacal, it’s said. But what is a revolution without sex? Without art? failure ; My brain made me do it. Can neuroscience distinguish between an automatic impulse and a self-directed action? Mike Gazzaniga chooses to weigh the evidence Decoding the Brain’s Cacophony
• · · · Take a clear-eyed look at the book biz. Only two major players, Amazon and Google, are still standing. Everyone else is looking for the best way to go bankrupt..; The great illumination. Streetlights changed everything, a fact not lost on those who prefer the dark: thieves, prostitutes, drunks, students...
• · · · · Hemingway’s later years: Ill health, night terrors. Forgive him anything. He writes like an angel ; Why do we exist? asks Richard Dawkins. Why are we here? For the 70-year-old biologist, a compelling answer: to continue deft battle withm intolerably conventional wisdom
• · · · · · Learn. Unlearn. Relearn. The Internet makes it hard to concentrate. Good, says Cathy Davidson. Disruption and distraction spark innovation and creativity ; Fashion, Kant wrote, belongs “under the heading of folly.” But men, it seems, have always been bemused by catwalk-gazing fashionistas
• · · · · · · Ours is a culture of whateverness: Disbelief trumps belief; opinions, buildings, behavior are trivial curiosities. Enthralled by ephemera, we’ve become idea surfers... ; When Ariel Dorfman fled Chile, he left his library behind. His years of roving were shaped by the books he could not read... Exile and identity