A Field Of Glittering Blank Attention

Jack Reacher, Tourism, Neo-Nazis, Peacekeepers, Birth, Flowers, Eric Schmidt

Jack Reacher Still Won’t Quit

James Parker | The Atlantic | 6th November 2018

Profile of a fictional hero. "Physically, Reacher is immensely skilled and powerful; mentally, he’s a kind of rogue vacancy, a fugue on legs, a field of glittering blank attention in which reality discovers itself, detail by detail. In Die Trying, chained up in a barn by kidnappers, Reacher shuts his body down 'like a beach house in winter' and turns his mind into 'a huge black space for thinking in'. Remember the Grateful Dead song about the headlight on the northbound train, the one that shines its light through the cool Colorado rain? That’s Reacher" (1,380 words)

Complaining For 300 Years

Ferdinand Addis | Lit Hub | 6th November 2018

How 18C Rome received young Englishmen taking the Grand Tour of continental Europe. "The desperate condition of ordinary Romans assaulted the senses of northern visitors: Crowds of monks and beggars, thin children, dingy houses, the ever-present smell of dung and garlic. Nor was the travellers’ mood improved by contact with Rome’s larcenous customs officers, headquartered in an old temple of Hadrian near the Piazza Colonna. Thither the English were conducted in their carriages, red-faced with helpless fury as their luggage was subjected to the special diligence of unbribed officialdom" (1,850 words)

I Live Among Neo-Nazis

Anonymous | Guardian | 31st October 2018

“I’m a university student living in Saxony, not far from Chemnitz. For a long time I underestimated the extent of rightwing extremism. To take full measure of it you have to live here. There’s the conversation at the bakery where an old woman complains about the ‘bad’ foreigners, and the woman serving her agrees. There’s the conductor on the tramway who deliberately checks only the tickets of the black passengers. There are the attacks on community centres, and there’s the passivity of the locals who stand by when a black person is beaten up in the town centre. Racist, fascist normality sets in” (1,100 words)

Dividing Lines

Jack Losh | Granta | 5th November 2018

Diary of life in and around a UN peacekeepers’ camp at Bria in the Central African Republic. “The prefab container is cool inside, its shelves packed with cans of Heineken, bags of tagliatelle, bottles of shampoo. A Kenyan cashier serves the customers – a Moroccan, a Rwandan and a Frenchman – just some of the nationalities living at this United Nations base deep in a rebel-held area of the Central African Republic. Taped to the door is a poster, advertising a hotline to call if peacekeepers are suspected of raping or abusing civilians. ‘Non!’, the poster reads. ‘Exploitation et abus sexuels = crimes’” (5,800 words)

Most Savage Birth

Annie Tucker | Popula | 17th September 2018

Options for giving birth when affluent in Los Angeles. “There are so many things to consider! Should I have my placenta encapsulated into pills I can take to decrease night sweats and perhaps slim my swollen uterus down to size? Do I want to order a meal service that will deliver me a ‘positively charged and detoxifying array of food, bone broths, and teas’? If I sound cranky, you can blame it on the hormones. It would be antifeminist to rail against an industry that has developed to help women feel supported, informed, and empowered during a major life event and transition, right?” (2,050 words)

Video: Flowers Blooming. Three minutes of video compresses 24,000 shots taken over 929 hours of real time in the course of nine months (3m 15s)

Audio: Eric Schmidt | Conversations With Tyler. Live conversation with ex-Google chairman Eric Schmidt about life, business, Google, technology (54m 50s)

“The more we know the less certain we are”
— Simon Critchley

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