Photography, Linguistics, Francis Fukuyama, Euro, Shimon Peres

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The Image Of Life And Death

Ndinda Kioko | Trans-African | 30th September 2016

On photographs of funerals. “Often, I have thought that if one laid out the albums of my family’s deaths and arranged them in some kind of order, they would notice a pattern, this little dance between life and death. The one who stands in front of the coffin, photographed with it in one album occupies the coffin in another album. The one who is in the coffin has, one time or another, stood and been photographed with the earlier dead. In turns, we bear witness to each other’s departure” (1,145 words)

The Recovery Of Case

David Berlinski & Juan Uriagereka | Inference | 28th September 2016

Demanding, beautifully-written essay teasing out Chomsky’s theory of Universal Grammar and showing how it led to a new appreciation of the part played by noun-cases in English, Chinese and other languages where case was thought to be rarely marked or wholly absent. “Case enters into linguistics as both a parameter and a principle. The case parameter is by default off. There is nothing to notice in Chinese. Finnish is different. There is something to notice” (10,800 words)

Venkatesh Rao On How The World Works

Jordan Schneider | Five Books | 29th September 2016

Discussion of books which “provide somewhat counterintuitive appreciative models of significant chunks of experienced reality”, including Francis Fukuyama’s Origins of Political Order. “Life can be understood as a basic contrast between two kinds of games: games that we play to win, and games that we play to continue playing. This is a crucial distinction. Everything that’s generative, open-ended, curious, and creative about the human condition tends to be an infinite game” (4,200 words)

Euro Sceptic

Paul Collier | Times Literary Supplement | 28th September 2016

The euro is “a modern tragedy”, imposing intolerable pressures on European economies. Sooner or later the eurozone will come apart. “Divorce is likely, probably when a fringe party of some shade of ugliness wins an election. The easiest withdrawal would be if Germany returned to the Deutschmark, but given Germany’s history this will not happen. The euro will eventually unravel in the face of social pressures, in much the same way as Schengen has unravelled: through acrimonious disorder” (1,700 words)

Shimon Peres, Optimist

Jeffrey Goldberg | Atlantic | 29th September 2016

“The Book of Proverbs teaches us that where there is no vision, the people perish. The people of Israel, now bereft of Shimon Peres, will not perish, because survival—or, at least, muddling through—is a Jewish specialty. But the death of Israel’s greatest visionary, a man who understood that it would never be morally or spiritually sufficient for the Jews to build for themselves the perfect ghetto and then wash their hands of the often-merciless world, means that Israel has lost its chief optimist” (1,400 words)

Video of the day: Mr Shadow

What to expect:

Song composed by artificial intelligence at SONY CSL Research Laboratory (3’00”)

Thought for the day

It is our greatest good fortune to have our failings corrected and our faults adjusted
J.W. von Goethe

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