Best of the Moment
Haruki Murakami | New Yorker | 21st October 2013
Fiction. Murakami revisits a theme by Kafka. "Samsa had no idea where he was, or what he should do. All he knew was that he was now a human whose name was Gregor Samsa. And how did he know that? Perhaps someone had whispered it in his ear while he lay sleeping? But who had he been before he became Gregor Samsa? What had he been?"
Kate Murphy | New York Times | 19th October 2013
Fast-food outlets in North America say "paying forward" has become a daily commonplace: Drive-through customers pay the bill of the person next in line. "The anonymity of the drive-through makes it especially easy to pay it forward because it dispenses with any awkwardness and suspicion about motives. The payer pulls away before the next car pulls up and discovers a gift that is impossible to refuse" (Metered paywall)
Tom Bartlett | Chronicle Review | 21st October 2013
By Nazi standards, Paul de Man was merely moderately anti-semitic, says Evelyn Barish in a new biography, The Double Life of Paul de Man. But she isn't out to rescue his reputation. "The portrait that emerges from the book is of a deeply dishonest, bizarrely reckless man who manages to charm and bully his way to the pinnacle of intellectual life in the United States, all while covering up a shameful and even criminal past"
Lex Boon | NRC | 16th October 2013
Epic tale of last year's robbery of seven modern masterpieces from the Kunsthal gallery in Rotterdam. It looked like a highly professional crime; it was, in fact, the work of four opportunistic young Romanians who noticed that the museum had no guards at night, and a convenient fire door. The theft took less that three minutes. But when they got the paintings home to Romania, a panicked parent burnt them
Adam Kirsch | Tablet | 15th October 2013
"Just as the rabbis codify in great detail exactly what can and can’t be moved on Shabbat, or how tall an eruv has to be, so they lay out the rules and exceptions about urinating between a wall and a palm tree. This is dangerous 'only when there are not four cubits of space between the two objects' ... For the rabbis, Jews are the protagonists of a cosmic drama in which their every slightest action will be either rewarded or punished"
Thought for the day:
"Understanding of the law and confidence in one’s conclusions about it are inversely related"— Orin Kerr