Dmitry Bykov, Olive Garden, Neuschwanstein, Syriac, Civil Rights


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

An Interview With Dmitry Bykov

Sasha Razor | LARB | 3rd October 2017

Russian writer talks politics, poetry, a unified theory of the novel. Flim-flam shot through with flashes of brilliance. “Dostoyevsky writes his Idiot at a moment in history before the eighth and the ninth plots are invented, and delineates a tenth plot structure. Authors must have been terribly bored because they knew well in advance who their murderers were. Then, all of a sudden, we get a detective plot in which the author is searching for God. All of Chesterton grew out of that innovation” (3,200 words)

Christ In The Garden Of Endless Breadsticks

Helen Rosner | Eater | 3rd October 2017

Restaurant critic on the “agony and the ecstasy” of Olive Garden, and on the appeal of chain restaurants in general. “They are designed to create a sense of vague familiarity. You go to Olive Garden because you’ve always gone there. You bring your children, and they grow up having always gone there. It is a restaurant that’s good at some things, a few of them on the menu, more of them about price and convenience and a general exhausted tolerance for unruly children and arguing couples” (4,600 words)

How Deep Is Your Love?

Alison Kinney | Lapham's Quarterly | 2nd October 2017

Ode to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. “Turreted and crenellated, the castle appears as the product of centuries of reconstruction and renovation, down to the irregularities of the asymmetrical foundation. But Neuschwanstein, the unfinished masterpiece of Ludwig II, king of Bavaria from 1864 to 1886, was built to manifest Ludwig’s obsession with Richard Wagner. The king was the world’s greatest opera fan; Neuschwanstein remains the world’s greatest work of fan art” (3,700 words)

A Different History Of The Seventh Century

Muriel Debie | IAS | 2nd October 2017

Notes on the influence of Syriac, the “third major language of Christians from the second to the 14th century”, and still “the religious and classical language of the Eastern Christians from Turkey, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and southwest India”, as well as a “lingua franca among the diaspora of displaced people fleeing conflicts in the region”. Syriac offers a “crucial internal source” for the history of the Mesopotamian region, and is vital for understanding the origins of the Qur’an (1,470 words)

Ta-Nehisi Coates | Atlantic | 3rd October 2017

If you don’t approve when American athletes bend a knee to the national anthem, history is on your side. Activists are appealing to the future, the next generation. “Only 22 percent of Americans approved of the Freedom Rides, 28 percent approved of the sit-ins. The vast majority — 60 percent — had ‘unfavorable’ feelings about the March on Washington. Civil-rights activists, much like black activists today, never successfully connected with the hearts of the majority of adults of their own day” (1,100 words)

Video of the day: Gravitational Waves

What to expect:

Lucid explainer of gravitational waves — what they are, and how we detect them; animated by Eoin Duffy (4’48”)

Thought for the day

Always say something a bit more interesting than what you mean
Peter Porter

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