Espionage, Leonardo, Farming, Fashion, Heidegger


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What Trump Told The Russians

Howard Blum | Vanity Fair | 22nd November 2017

The tale of how Israeli intelligence infiltrated an ISIS cell in Syria is breathtaking: “One source said the room was spiked, a tiny marvel of a microphone placed where it would never be noticed”. The denunciation of Donald Trump for having leaked details of the operation to Russia is more laboured. But still, for glimpses of how the world works, and in particular of how the relationship between America and Israel works, this is a remarkable piece of journalism (3,400 words)

You Bought A $450 Million Leonardo. Now What?

Brian Boucher & Eileen Kinsella | Artnet | 22nd November 2017

To get Salvator Mundi out of Christie’s your shippers will have used decoy trucks carrying similarly sized artworks, and booked multiple flights, to conceal the final destination. Your lawyer will have warned you to avoid Italy, because you would never be able to re-export the picture. Your safest and cheapest option will be to park it with an American museum big enough to handle the crowds. You probably won’t even bother with insurance. If you can afford to buy a Leonardo, you can afford to lose it (1,470 words)

Why Did We Start Farming?

Steven Mithen | LRB | 23rd November 2017

Useful review of James C. Scott’s Against The Grain, taking up the question of whether the invention of agriculture was a good or bad thing for humanity. Hunter-gatherers lived well and worked little. Why they exchanged that life for the harder and riskier one of growing crops and managing livestock is a something of a mystery. “Was that first sowing of seed a trap, locking people into a seasonal cycle of planting and harvesting from which we have been unable to escape?” (3,400 words)

Endless Garment

Anna Viceconti | Sophia | 20th September 2017

A philosopher wonders how to classify fashion. It is not quite an art, nor merely an industry, nor a set of beliefs. If it is a language, it appears to be entirely self-referential: “All the words in the fashion magazines are Fashion, all the pictures in it are Fashion, and the magazines themselves are Fashion; they exist to express what Fashion is, but at the same time, they are also it. The primary message of every fashion object is the reaffirmation of the existence of Fashion” (2,300 words)

An Interview With Martin Heidegger

Georg Wolff & Rudolf Augstein | Lacan / Spiegel | 31st May 1976

Interesting throughout. Conducted in 1966, published after Heidegger’s death in 1976. Heidegger seeks to justify (and to minimise) his collaboration with the Nazis in the 1930s by arguing that he was acting in the interests of his university; that he thought something good might come out of a conflict between the old and the new politics; and that a new political order was needed to regain control over technology, which had become too powerful for the good of humanity (10,600 words)

Video of the day Jack’s Movie Reviews: 12 Angry Men

What to expect:

Analysis of Sidney Lumet’s masterpiece about an American jury arguing its way towards a verdict (8’30”)

Thought for the day

Though familiarity may not breed contempt, it takes the edge off admiration
William Hazlitt

Podcast of the day Richard Dawkins | The Economist Asks

Richard Dawkins talks to Anne McElvoy about the place of truth in science and politics
(20'33")

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