Parrots, Cities, Phoenicians, Espionage, Auden

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

Birds Of A Feather

Miisha Nash | Topic | 8th May 2018

On relations between humans and parrots. Thanks to speech, they get close. “Poe loathed the color purple; a certain pair of socks evoked prolonged cries of terror. She flung unwanted food at walls. A veterinarian prescribed Prozac, instructing me to mix a few drops into her water. Pets were supposed to quell anxiety, but she had the opposite effect on me; I worried that my anxiety was another thing she’d learned to mimic, until she’d internalized it and made it real” (1,540 words)

City As Character

Tyler Malone | Lapham's Quarterly | 30th April 2018

Joyce’s Dublin, Balzac’s Paris, Döblin’s Berlin are not only the settings for great novels but also the principal actors in those novels. The city dictates the plot, too, by virtue of its “intrinsic inability to adhere to a tidy narrative”. The reader “drifts from page to page as if from street to street”. Virginia Woolf did something similar for London, but to a lesser degree; we see the city through the eyes of her characters, whereas we see Joyce’s characters through the eyes of the city (2,070 words)

Phantasmic Phoenicia

Josephine Quinn | Aeon | 4th April 2018

Every nation demands a history, preferably one extending back into ancient times, which accounts for the popularity of the Phoenicians as imagined ancestors. Medieval English historians traced their country’s lineage back to Phoenicia; as did Irish nationalists in the 18th century; as did Lebanon’s nation-builders in the early 20th century. But the Phoenicians were an invention of the Greeks. “There is no known instance of a Phoenician ever calling themselves a Phoenician” (3,100 words)

Breaking The Zimmerman Telegram

John Bull | Lapsed Historian | 18th January 2018

When World War One broke out, and Britain cut Germany’s transatlantic telegraph cable, Germany shifted its diplomatic traffic to the neutral American cable — apparently unaware that the American cable crossed British soil. The British tapped the cable, and in 1917 decrypted a German telegram urging Mexico to make war on the United States. This was enough to bring America into the war. But how could the British reveal the telegram, without revealing that they tapped the American cable? (4,700 words)

Hannah Arendt On W.H. Auden

Hannah Arendt | Literary Hub | 21st February 2018

“I met Auden late in his life and mine — at an age when the easy friendships formed in one’s youth can no longer be attained. We were good friends but not intimate friends. There was a reserve in him that discouraged familiarity. I gladly respected it as the necessary secretiveness of the great poet, one who must have taught himself early not to talk in prose, loosely and at random, of things that he knew how to say much more satisfactorily in the condensed concentration of poetry” (3,100 words)

Video of the day Berlin In June 1945

What to expect:

Documentary footage of the German capital immediately after the Nazi surrender. Original colour restored (7’04”)

Thought for the day

We think in generalities, but we live in details
Alfred North Whitehead

Podcast Fitness In A Bottle | Flash Forward

What if there was a pill that made you fit? Would you still go to the gym? Rose Eveleth and guests discuss
(53m 25s)

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