Oliver Sacks, Robert Bresson, Transhumanism, China, Shakespeare


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

The Leg

Oliver Sacks | London Review Of Books | 17th June 1982

A neurologist falls from a cliff, injures his leg, undergoes emergency surgery, and emerges with his sense of self profoundly disturbed. “I watched the nurse move it, and it was like watching someone else’s leg, or a piece of furniture, being moved. My own leg, in this moment, was no longer my own, and no longer part of my body or my self. My leg (my ex-leg) was Nothing and Nowhere: it was gone, so far as living or felt reality was concerned; it had gone, and left not a trace behind” (6,090 words)

The Elements of Style

Dennis Lim | Bookforum | 2nd January 2017

Robert Bresson’s Notes On The Cinematograph is “film theory at its most aphoristic, a book to be read in an afternoon and pondered for a lifetime”. Bresson came late to cinema, making 13 films in 40 years, all classics — “works of extraordinary lucidity and profound mystery”. He rejected “theatrical techniques”, including “most of what passes for screen acting”, preferring to use non-professional actors, whom he termed “models”, and whom he instructed to speak “with minimal inflection” (2,300 words)

I Want Wings

Nicholas Carr | Rough Type | 12th December 2016

The scope for humans to “alter and augment” their bodies and minds will expand greatly in coming decades thanks to advances in robotics, bioelectronics, genetic engineering, and pharmacology. Until now, modifications have “tended to be decorative or therapeutic”, but those constraints will not endure. “Advances in biotechnology may be unsettling, but in the end we welcome them because they give us greater autonomy in remaking ourselves into what we think we should be” (4,700 words)

When The Chinese Were Unspeakable

Ian Johnson | New York Review Of Books | 9th January 2017

Remembering the horrors of the Cultural Revolution in Dao County, Hunan province, where more than 9,000 people were massacred in August and September 1967. “The killings were aimed at eliminating a class of people declared to be subhuman. They were organized by committees of Communist Party cadres who ordered the murders to be carried out in remote areas. To make sure revenge would be difficult, officials ordered the slaughter of entire families, including infants” (2,500 words)

The Sherlock Of Shakespeare

Robert McCrum | Guardian | 8th January 2017

Conversation with Heather Wolfe, curator of the Folger Library in Washington, DC, whose discoveries in British archives have settled the matter of Shakespeare’s identity beyond further argument. “Shakespeare, Gent. from Stratford” and “Shakespeare the Player” are one and the same. Wolfe “delivers the coup de grace to the wild-eyed army of conspiracy theorists who contest the authenticity, even the existence, of the playwright known to contemporaries as Master Will Shakespeare” (1,400 words)

Video of the day: Darwin Deez — Constellations

What to expect:

As if Napoleon Dynamite grew up and became a presenter of popular science programmes (3’30”)

Thought for the day

What really flatters a person is that you think them worth flattering
George Bernard Shaw

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