Koran, Men, Geoff Dyer, Cost Of Living, Slapstick

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

Crafting The Koran

Robert Worth | New York Review Of Books | 9th February 2017

The Koran was compiled from “yellowed animal-skin parchments” which “emerged from the desert in the seventh and eighth centuries AD” — an “ur-text in fragments”. Some of these fragments are now on display at the Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C. To gaze on them is “a peculiar, faintly sacrilegious experience. They give rise to thoughts that would merit execution in certain parts of the world. Who wrote them? Was the authors’ conception of Islam anything like our own?” (1,600 words)

The Encyclopedia Of Dad

Michele Pridmore-Brown | Times Literary Supplement | 8th February 2017

How evolution and fatherhood have shaped and extended the lifespan of the human male. “In the case of chimps, ageing males are ousted or reproductively silenced by younger, more muscular rivals, thus becoming irrelevant in Darwinian terms; they hit a ‘wall of death’ shortly thereafter. Our wall has been extended by several decades or more. Fatherhood creates a Darwinian raison d’être for physically post-prime men – and so a lever for bursting through the Great Ape wall of death” (2,030 words)

Is Travel Writing Dead?

Geoff Dyer | Granta | 8th February 2017

“Any successful travel book should involve some departure from previously visited ideas of the travel book. Claudio Magris’s Danube was a subtle expansion of the possibilities of travel writing. Or one could just delete the ‘travel’ part and say it’s a great piece of writing — although certain titles enjoy a reputation as ‘travel’ classics while falling below more general standards of literary achievement. Patrick Leigh Fermor’s A Time of Gifts depends on these standards being dispensed with entirely” (560 words)

Cost Disease

Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 9th February 2017

Even allowing for inflation, in the past 50 years “education costs have doubled, college costs have dectupled, health insurance costs have dectupled, subway costs have at least dectupled, and housing costs have increased by fifty percent. US health care costs four times as much as equivalent health care in other First World countries; US subways cost eight times as much as equivalent subways in other First World countries.” And the strange thing is, we don’t really know why (6,500 words)

Another Fine Mess

Brian Dillon | Frieze | 1st October 2007

Notes on the nature of slapstick comedy. “The essence of slapstick is slowness. The velocity of certain actions – a swift kick to the seat of the pants, the sudden collision of face and patisserie – might almost persuade us otherwise, but slapstick is devoted to the study of slowness, a dogged decomposition of human actions into their component gestures. It demands infinite patience from actor and audience alike. Everything unfolds as though there is all the time in the world” (2,100 words)

Video of the day: The Map Of Mathematics

What to expect:

Physicist Dominic Walliman explains visually the main fields within pure mathematics and applied mathematics (11’05”)

Thought for the day

Unless one is a genius, it is best to aim at being intelligible
Anthony Hope

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