Language, Bolsheviks, Music,

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Where Are Words?

Riccardo Manzotti & Tim Parks | New York Review Of Books | 27th December 2017

Conversation between writer and psychologist about the place of language in consciousness. “Language is like a net we’ve made and throw over the world. It catches some fish and lets others slip through the links. But it doesn’t create fish, or stop them from existing. And we’re always tampering with our net to have it capture new fish, or exclude certain fish we want to pretend don’t exist. Sometimes, the net captures fragments of the net itself, and it gets tangled and snarled” (2,500 words)

The Greatest Error

Stephen Lovell | TLS | 19th December 2017

Thought-provoking review of ‘House Of Government’, Yuri Slezkine’s history of the Russian Revolution which treats Communism as fundamentally a religious rather than a political movement. The early Bolsheviks were an apocalyptic sect whose prophecies failed. Communism “became a priesthood”. But even that priesthood was doomed, “because it neglected matters of family life and morality to which traditional religions tended to devote minute attention” (3,100 words)

Tending The Gardens Of Music

Jay Nordlinger | Future Symphony Institute | 28th December 2017

“I will take a little tour of the American music world, looking in on various facets. But here is a basic point: How you think classical music is doing depends on what your expectations are. If you expect classical music to be as popular as popular music, you will be sorely disappointed. As I frequently have cause to say, ‘That’s why they call it popular music, you know’. Classical music will always be, as it has always been, a minority taste. But the minority – lucky us – has an abundance before it” (4,500 words)

The Good Samaritan

Rowan Williams | New Statesman | 25th December 2017

The parable of the Good Samaritan lends an aura of retrospective goodness to Samaritans in general. But relations between Jews and Samaritans were “poisonous” in biblical times. Any story with a Samaritan as a positive character would have been offensive. “One of the many points of the tale is not that ‘we’ should be kind to ‘them’, but that we, the insiders, the elect, the normal, are likely to have to depend in important ways on the apparently alien and threatening stranger” (1,500 words)

Culture And Depression

Marianna Pogosyan | Psychology Today | 10th December 2017

Interview with psychologist Yulia Chentsova-Dutton about why rates and symptoms of depression vary so much around the world. “Genetic vulnerability differs substantially from country to country. East Asian contexts, for example, show a high prevalence of genes associated with depression. Yet, despite these vulnerabilities, they develop fewer cases of the disorder. One hypothesis is that genetic vulnerabilities have co-evolved with culture, creating extra protective factors” (1,220 words)

Video of the day Santa Con

What to expect:

Santa Claus pulls off a bank robbery. The trick is all in the timing (1’30”)

Thought for the day

If you do not resist the apparently inevitable, you will never know how inevitable it was
Terry Eagleton

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