Saturday, May 22, 2021

Patrick White: Solzhenitsyn's Nobel

    Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.

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Rick Warren

This quote is from pastor and author Rick Warren’s 2002 book “The Purpose Driven Life.” Variations of the quote, however, have appeared in many other sources — and no wonder, as it’s a resonant message. There’s a misperception that to be humble means you shouldn’t regard yourself highly. But to practice true humility requires a shift in perspective, to put others first.

There was a time when a gentleman's reputation was worth dying for.

In the 1800s when powerful, educated men determined to defend their social standing felt they had no other choice, they would meet on a duelling ground, weapons in hand.

Duelling wasn't about revenge or killing your enemy. Here's what it was really about

    Solzhenitsyn's Nobel 

       The Swedish Academy has now, belatedly, opened the archives of the Nobel Prize deliberations from 50 years ago, regarding the 1970 prize awarded to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; regrettably, they haven't posted information -- such as the list of nominated authors -- at the archive-site yet. 
       Kaj Schueler, of Svenska Dagbladet, appears to have been first on the scene to inspect the papers; his report, Hemliga dokument: Därför fick Aleksandr Solzjenitsyn is unfortunately paywalled, but at least from the first section we can glean the most important news: that Solzhenitsyn was a near-unanimous choice, with only Artur Lundkvist strongly opposed, and that the two authors he beat out were Pablo Neruda (who was awarded the prize the next year) and Patrick White, who would get the prize in 1973. 

      Author biographies 

       While I cover a fair number of biographies at the complete review, I'm not a big fan of the form: I am, however, quite fascinated by the general fascination with biographies, especially writers' lives. (While I haven't written about it, because ... well, everyone else seems to have, the recent Blake Bailey-Philip Roth biography has turned out to be a particularly interesting example, the issues surrounding the biographer -- a real piece of work -- swamping the actual biography; the book about this whole fiasco will surely certainly be much more interesting than Bailey's own book (which I had, and continue to have, no plans to read; as with so many authors: Roth's work is of interest to me; Roth's life isn't.) 
       At Honi Soit Genevieve Couvret now looks at (some) author-biographies, wondering: "Can we ever really know our favourite authors ?" in The Eulogy of The Novelist: What comes after the death of the author, addressing some of the issues surrounding this odd genre. 

The golden ratio: An ancient Greek formula could be responsible for most hit musicals PhysOrg 

You don’t have to be a Catholic to fall in love with Flannery O’Connor’s work; you just have to have a soul.

10 vegetables that thrive in pots — no garden required

Politically polarized brains share an intolerance of uncertainty ScienceBlog 

For most human history, life expectancy was 30 and a quarter of children died before their first birthday. What changed is humanity’s greatest achievement  

This is pretty unusual. Years ago, NY Times film critic AO Scott panned Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic and Silverman, instead of reacting in a typical way, ultimately took his core criticism to heart and changed the way she thought about her comedy. The two of them recently linked up for a conversationabout the “challenges both of doing comedy and of writing criticism”, namely that:

You’re supposed to be honest, and you’re supposed to tell the truth and not worry about giving offense. On the other hand, what you do, what I do has a risk of hurting people.


Our Weirdest Dreams Could Be Training Us for Life, New Theory Says Gizmodo

From Its Myriad Tips: Mushroom Brain London Review of Books 

Facebook Loses Bid to Block Ruling on EU-U.S. Data Flows Wall Street Journal

Cashing Out Heisenberg Report:

Coming full circle, Rabobank’s Every noted that “Colonial [Pipeline] paid Russian hackers a ransom of $5 million IN CRYPTO, which could not make a clearer case for why the SEC might want to be step in.”


Ireland defies hackers’ bitcoin demand over health system Financial Times