Algeria, Repetition, Time, Philosophy, Peasants


Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

Panthers In Algeria

Elaine Mokhtefi | London Review Of Books | 1st June 2017

Enthralling memoir of 1960s Algiers, featuring Eldridge Cleaver and Timothy Leary. “Leary had been sprung from a US prison by the Weather Underground, who’d been paid $25,000 by a California hippy group that manufactured LSD. Cleaver and I gave Slimane Hoffman a toned-down version of Leary’s story, emphasising his career as a Harvard professor. Cleaver assured Hoffman that he was capable of controlling Leary’s drug use and his bouts of nonsensical eloquence. The commandant wished us well” (4,070 words)

Bob Dylan’s Nobel Lecture

Bob Dylan | Swedish Academy | 5th June 2017

Well worth the wait. As you might expect, Dylan explains his place at the confluence of American folk music and rock’n’roll. As you might not expect, he also places his work in the tradition of Moby Dick and the Odyssey. “Some of these same things have happened to you. You too have had drugs dropped into your wine. You too have shared a bed with the wrong woman. You too have been spellbound by sweet voices with strange melodies. You too have come so far and have been so far blown back” (4,300 words)

How To Use Repetition

Edwin Battistella | OUP Blog | 4th June 2017

It is what it is. What will be will be. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. A rose is a rose is a rose. “By stating the obvious in an obvious way, such expressions force us to look beyond the literal for meaning”. Tautologies in the future tense take on additional nuances: “Boys will be boys”. As do tautologies in the conditional with if; “If he’s mad, he’s mad”. Note also the tautology for canonical meaning: “If a deadline-enforcer says ‘If it’s late, it’s late’, the response might be ‘But it’s not late late’.” (650 words)

About Time

Richard Dawkins | Penguin | 1st June 2017

On time and time-keeping in art and science. “For poets, time is anything but an illusion. They hear its wingèd chariot hurrying near; they aspire to leave footprints on the sands of it. Proverbs declare procrastination to be the thief of it; or they compute, with improbable precision, the ratio of stitches saved in it. Archeologists excavate rose-red cities half as old as it. Pub landlords announce it gentlemen please. We waste it, spend it, eke it out, squander it, kill it” (3,200 words)

Philosophy Is Harder Than Science

David Papineau | TLS | 1st June 2017

Philosophers still struggle with many of the same issues that exercised the Greeks. The contrast with science appears almost embarrassing. Modern science has been “one long success story” of problems solved and questions answered. So should philosophers just give up, change jobs? No. Philosophy moves so slowly because the questions it tackles are so difficult. “Most people don’t enjoy banging their heads against nasty paradoxes. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it” (1,500 words)

An Interview With James C. Scott

Celia Plender & Harry G. West | Gatronomica | 14th March 2017

Anthropologist discusses food, land, farming, agrarian societies, peasant politics. Interesting throughout. “In 1967 I taught a course on peasant rebellion and we had 500 students in the class who were fighting for the microphone to denounce us as insufficiently progressive. Finally I decided that since peasants were the largest segment of the world’s population, it would be an honorable and worthy career to devote my life to the study of peasants and agriculture” (3,030 words)

Video of the day: Golden Oldies

What to expect:

Fonz-style fifties pastiche, with a twist (2’50”)

Thought for the day

Punishment is directed, above all, at all the potentially guilty
Michel Foucault

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