Degas, Medicine, Socrates, Poetry, Skydiving


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Degas Invents A New World

Anka Muhlstein | New York Review of Books | 24th April 2016

“Degas had always had a hard time admitting that a painting was finished. Even after it was sold, an artwork could always be revised. His friend Henri Rouart learned this at his own expense. He had purchased a pastel that he dearly loved. Sometime later, Degas came to dinner and left with the pastel under his arm, to spruce up a detail. Rouart never saw his painting again. Degas revised it to such an extent that it was ruined” (3,500 words)

Writing About Medicine

Andrew Solomon | Guardian | 22nd April 2016

In praise of doctors who write — among them Atul Gawande, Abraham Verghese, Henry Marsh, Danielle Ofri and Adam Phillips, in a tradition going back via Chekhov to Galen and Maimonedes. “Medical knowledge is cumulative, and it cannot accrue without words.” In psychology the words themselves are the medicine. “The ambition of medicine is to know other people; the revelation of psychology is that this is impossible” (4,100 words)

Who Was Socrates?

Nigel Warburton | Five Books | 22nd April 2016

Conversation with classical scholar M M McCabe about the enigma of Socrates. The son of a stonemason, Socrates was “an ordinary citizen” of Athens who served in the army and voted in the assembly. He talked much but wrote nothing. “His primary interest was in argument and explanation, especially in the matter of value”. How could this make him such a danger to society that the Athenians brought him to court and put him to death? (6,400 words)

Times I’ve Got Paid

Eileen Myles | Harriet | 22nd April 2016

The business of poetry. “I’ve sent poems to the New Yorker for about 30-40 years. Through three different editors. Not every day or every year but it would strike me every now and then that it was something I ought to do.” The New Yorker pays $600 for a poem, more than most publications, but less than a private commission. “I’m always looking for the easiest way for language to pour. Especially in relationship to cash” (2,900 words)

Scaredy-Cat’s Guide To Skydiving

Jonathan Welsh | Wall Street Journal | 21st April 2016

It’s an exciting sport but no longer a dangerous one. Modern kit is foolproof. If you panic during the descent, an “automatic activation device” will open your parachute in time A jump from 14,500 feet lasts six to eight minutes, including one minute of free-fall. “After leaving the plane, you accelerate to around 110 mph and the skin on your face starts stretching and distorting as you fall about 1,000 feet every six seconds” (1,725 words)

Video of the day: Inside A Vending Machine

What to expect:

Journey through the innards of a vending machine, as it checks and counts coins (1’57”)

Thought for the day

We have art, that we may not die of truth
Friedrich Nietzsche

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