Camille Paglia, Fear, Timothy Morton, Science, Wine

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Interview: Camille Paglia

Jonathan Last | Weekly Standard | 15th June 2017

Interesting and provocative throughout, on American politics and culture. “Today’s liberalism has become grotesquely mechanistic and authoritarian: It’s all about reducing individuals to a group identity, defining that group in permanent victim terms, and denying others their democratic right to challenge that group and its ideology. Political correctness represents the fossilised institutionalisation of once-vital revolutionary ideas, which have become mere rote formulas” (3,600 words)

In Search Of Fear

Philippe Petit | Lapham's Quarterly | 19th June 2017

Celebrated ultra-high-wire walker talks about how to recognise fear, and how to master it. “If a nightmare taps you on the shoulder, do not turn around immediately expecting to be scared. Pause and expect more, exaggerate. Be ready to be very afraid, to scream in terror. The more delirious your expectation, the safer you will be when you see that reality is much less horrifying than what you had envisioned. Now turn around. See? It was not that bad — and you’re already smiling” (1,900 words)

A Reckoning For Our Species

Alex Blasdel | Guardian | 15th June 2017

Profile of the “philosopher-prophet” Timothy Morton, who argues that our world is shaped by what he calls “hyperobjects” – vast arrays such as global warming or the internet “which we tend to think of as abstract ideas because we can’t get our heads around them, but that are nevertheless as real as hammers”. Morton also contends that “all beings are interdependent, and speculates that everything in the universe has a kind of consciousness, from algae and boulders to knives and forks” (6,500 words)

Unifiers And Diversifiers In Science

Ashutosh Jogalekar | Curious Wavefunction | 16th June 2017

Unifiers seek a theory of everything; diversifiers rejoice in unexpected discoveries. “Unifiers tend to be part of idea-driven revolutions while diversifiers tend to be part of tool-driven revolutions”. Physics is for unifiers; chemistry is for diversifiers; biology accommodates both. “Chemistry is too complex to be reduced to a simple set of unifying principles, and most chemical discoveries are still made by scientists looking at special cases rather than those searching for general laws” (1,300 words)

Supertasters Among The Dreaming Spires

Dan Rosenheck | 1843 | 16th June 2017

Account of the 2017 Oxford versus Cambridge wine-tasting competition. “Every Oxford taster is a scientist in one form or another, ranging from endearingly geeky to absurdly so”. And there does seem to be a science of tasting; both teams score well on blind tastings to identify wines by age and origin. “Cambridge were methodical, precise and pragmatic – much like Cambridge. Whereas Oxford had people who grew up with wine. They’d just taste and say: Oh, that’s obviously Bordeaux” (4,580 words)

Video of the day: The First Bloomsday (1954)

What to expect:

Flann O’Brien, Patrick Kavanagh and friends retrace Leopold Bloom’s wanderings through Dublin (1’04”)

Thought for the day

The most efficient search of an unmapped territory takes the form of a random walk
George Dyson

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