Pontius Pilate, Consciousness, True Crime, History, Marengo, Caracas


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

Aldo Schiavone’s Pontius Pilate

Branko Milanovic | Global Inequality | 1st March 2017

The confrontation between Pontius Pilate and Jesus was perhaps “the most portentous meeting in human history”. In Pontius Pilate: Deciphering a Memory, the great historian of Rome, Aldo Schiavone, offers a compelling account of the event — though more historical fiction than history. “Pilate at first refuses to impose the death sentence even if it puts him in a potentially serious conflict with the Jewish establishment. Then he becomes convinced that the preacher wants to be executed” (1,400 words)

The Illusion Of Consciousness

Thomas Nagel | New York Review Of Books | 3rd March 2017

We have “competence without comprehension”, says Daniel Dennett. Evolution equips us to do most things necessary to our survival without thinking about them. So why do we think at all? Dennett argues that consciousness is, in fact, an illusion. But does not illusion itself requires a conscious subject? “The way Dennett avoids this apparent contradiction takes us to the heart of his position”. His theory of mind, a sort of behaviourism “is so unnatural that it is hard to convey” (3,400 words)

A Town Under Trial

Nick Tabor | Oxford American | 2nd March 2017

A military base in Kentucky. A red-light district at the gate. A corrupt police officer called Ed Carter. And a double murder. “The sheriff’s deputies fingered Carter as the killer immediately. All the circumstantial evidence pointed to him. He had a key, and his 2 AM visit looked like a reconnaissance. They learned that Carter’s wife was missing her handgun, which she believed was a .22 — the same kind that had been used in the murder”. And yet, somehow, the case goes cold for fifteen years (14,000 words)

The Renationalisation Of History

Jeremy Adelman | Aeon | 2nd March 2017

When politics favoured globalisation, popular history favoured high-concept world-spanning books emphasising “connections, scale, integration”. Jared Diamond’s best-sellers “synthesised 13,000 years of global history”. Will history, like politics, now turn back to the nation-state? Yes, and there is work to do. Globalisation narratives assumed that the West was assimilating the Rest. Historians skated carelessly over questions of how and why countries and cultures developed differently (3,800 words)

The Remains Of The Neigh

Samanth Subramanian | 1843 | 3rd March 2017

When the National Army Museum reopens in London soon, exhibits will include “the refurbished skeleton of Marengo”, the white horse that carried Napoleon from Austerlitz to Waterloo by way of Moscow. One legend holds that Napoleon’s army captured Marengo from the Ottomans at Abukir; another that Marengo was bred and sold in Ireland. And perhaps these legends should be left undisturbed: for the the Napoleonic archives make no mention of a horse called Marengo (1,100 words)

The Architecture Of Fear

Sofia Barbarani | Guardian | 1st March 2017

How violent crime has changed Caracas. In the poorer western half of the city people get home before dark and bolt the door. More prosperous neighbourhoods bristle with barbed wire, security alarms, dogs, shotguns, two-way radios, private guards — the “architecture of fear”. Shops keep the door locked and buzz in known customers. Joggers run in groups, cars drive in convoys, dinner guests sleep over. “We’ve stopped wearing nice clothes, watches or using mobile phones on the street” (2,300 words)

Video of the day: Tomasz Stańko Quintet: Grand Central

What to expect:

Special effects created with 1 km of yarn, four flashlights and one lamp. No CGI (2’00”)

Thought for the day

Happiness is beneficial for the body, but grief develops the mind
Marcel Proust

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