Best of the Moment
Paul Keating | The Australian | 11th November 2013
"The First World War was a war devoid of any virtue. It arose from the quagmire of European tribalism. A complex interplay of nation state destinies overlaid by notions of cultural superiority peppered with racism. The First World War not only destroyed European civilisation and the empires at its heart; its aftermath led to a second conflagration, the Second World War, which divided the continent until the end of the century"
Ariel Levy | New Yorker | 11th November 2013
On giving birth prematurely while travelling. The second half of this piece is probably one of the most moving things you will ever read. "I felt an unholy storm move through my body, and after that there is a brief lapse in my recollection; either I blacked out from the pain or I have blotted out the memory. And then there was another person on the floor in front of me, moving his arms and legs, alive"
David Runciman | Guardian | 8th November 2013
A bad couple of months for Western democracy: NSA scandal, US government shutdown, Syrian fiasco. Are these structural problems, and are they getting worse? Yes and no. "The pattern of democratic life is to drift into impending disaster and then to stumble out of it. What is hard for any democracy is to exert the constant, vigilant pressure needed to rein in the forces that produce the crises. It is so much easier to wait for the crisis to reveal itself"
Brian Eno & Grayson Perry | New Statesman | 7th November 2013
Conversation between musician and potter. Interesting throughout. Eno on music: "People said that making records would take the life out of music, but then recording became a new kind of art." Perry on fine art: "The art world has no equivalent of the popular. People always mention Jack Vettriano or Beryl Cook. Even Banksy. But they’re exceptions, and they are not the people who line up their paintings on the railings in Bayswater"
Simon Kuper | FT Magazine | 9th November 2013
As our jobs become more precarious, so too does our identity — because we define ourselves by our work, and take on its characteristics. "When I entered journalism 20 years ago, it was quite beery. Then the internet arrived and required nonstop writing for falling pay. Nowadays journalists seem to be strivers and, increasingly, women. (The fastest way to feminise a profession is to reduce pay.)"
Adam Kirsch | New Republic | 8th November 2013
Another awestruck review of Zibaldone, Giacomo Leopardi's two-thousand-page notebook of ideas and reflections, finally available in a full English translation almost two centuries after it was written. Leopardi has long been recognised as a great poet; Zibaldone assures him a high place also in the history of ideas. His preoccupation is with linguistics and etymology, but his interests extend into music, history, psychology, and everything else
Thought for the day:
"Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it"— Margaret Atwood