Crystals, Toads, Rights, Princes, Slaves

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The Crystal Hunters Of Chamonix

Simon Akam | Outside | 8th June 2021

Shadowing a cristallier across the Mont Blanc massif. These precarious expeditions in search of concealed pockets of rare crystals in the rock face are permitted as long as hunters use "traditional" methods — i.e. no explosives or pneumatic equipment. The climber here uses only a chisel and "a green plastic rake appropriated from his children’s sandcastle equipment" (5,794 words)


Thoughts On The Common Toad

George Orwell | Berfrois | 27th May 2021

Beguiling essay about the spawning of toads, and other joys of Spring, in post-war London. "The toad has a very spiritual look, like a strict Anglo-Catholic towards the end of Lent. His movements are languid, his body is shrunken, and his eyes abnormally large. This allows one to notice, what one might not at another time, that a toad has about the most beautiful eye of any living creature" (1,600 words)


Rights And Wrongs

Katrina Goldstone | Dublin Review Of Books | 1st June 2021

Review of a book about Hannah Arendt. Finding a definitive interpretation of such a complex figure is difficult; for many the lure of easy metaphor is too powerful. "Arendt’s life in microcosm symbolises in its extraordinary complexity the twentieth century’s barbarities and upheavals." Her evolution from stateless exile into "celebrity public intellectual" is still an irresistible story (1,746 words)


Audio of the Week: Prince Charming

Episode: "The Coalman Who Could Have Been A Prince" | Podcast: Life Changing | 28m 53s

Touching interview with South Wales coal merchant, "Keith the Coal", about his unexpected family history. Adopted at 13, he tracked down his birth mother in his forties and discovered that his father was a Malaysian prince. The host gently teases out whether learning that he was the firstborn son of the Sultan of Perak changed his self image; he insists he is content to have grown up Welsh (28m 53s)


Book of the Week: Black Spartacus

by Sudhir Hazareesingh | Courtesy of Five Books

A biography of the emancipated black slave who led the first successful slave revolt against a global power, and a step-by-step look at how he managed to pull it off. A brilliant military strategist and advocate of Enlightenment ideals, he also drew on voodoo and was a talented double-dealer. “I am Toussaint Louverture, you have perhaps heard my name. You are aware, brothers, that I have undertaken vengeance, and that I want freedom and equality to reign in Saint-Domingue.” (370 pages)


Afterthought:
"We can understand things better. We can never understand things fully"
— David Deutsch

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