Populism, Pigs, Gorgon, Bodybuilding

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

The Age Of Volatility

Robert Tombs | New Statesman | 16th July 2017

Notes on the rise of populist politicians in Britain and France. “Electorates are no longer armies, but crowds. Identities shaped by religion, class, region, ideology and tradition weaken. Conventional parties are hollowed out, and disoriented and angry voters turn to single-issue campaigns or insurgent populism. Populism is unlikely to come to power in normal circumstances because of its evident risks. However, volatility is now normal, and accidents happen” (2,400 words)

Death Of A Pig

E.B. White | Atlantic | 1st January 1948

“The scheme of buying a spring pig in blossom time, feeding it through summer and fall, and butchering it when the solid cold weather arrives, is a familiar scheme to me and follows an antique pattern. It is a tragedy enacted on most farms with perfect fidelity to the original script. The murder, being premeditated, is in the first degree but is quick and skillful, and the smoked bacon and ham provide a ceremonial ending whose fitness is seldom questioned” (3,700 words)

Dread Gorgon

Caroline Alexander | Lapham's Quarterly | 14th July 2017

“The Greek language offered wide-ranging terminology to calibrate different shades and effects of fear: déos, straightforward terror; phóbos, fear that impels panic; ekplektos, shock that strikes one dumb. Fear turns warriors green. It can be deinós, dread- or awe-inspiring, a term used frequently of gods. One terrible object, however, conjured every attribute of fear and every shade of meaning, and this was the head of the monstrous Gorgon, a mere glance at which turned men to stone” (3,100 words)

Steroid Solidarity

Oliver Bateman | VQR | 14th July 2017

Report from the Mr. Olympia contest in Las Vegas, “a steroid convention with a bodybuilding show”. The champions are only as good as the drugs they take; the current fashion is for synthetic human-growth hormone. “In an age of widespread public contempt for steroid use, usually directed at athletes in high profile sports such as professional baseball and mixed martial arts, bodybuilding represents an outlier: Its highest-profile competitors are not just performance-enhanced but almost superhumanly so” (5,300 words)

Fran Lebowitz: A Humorist at Work

Dorothy Alexander | Paris Review | 16th July 1993

Interview. “I’m such a slow writer I have no need for anything as fast as a word processor. I don’t need anything so snappy. I write so slowly that I could write in my own blood without hurting myself. I think if there were no such thing as men, there would be no word processors. Male writers like them because they have this sneaking suspicion that writing is not the most masculine profession. This is why you have so much idiotic behaviour among male writers” (8,200 words)

Video of the day: Makin’ Moves

What to expect:

Animation. CGI humans. Starts plainly enough, then drops your jaw around the 19-second mark (2’30”)

Thought for the day

Love words, agonize over sentences
Susan Sontag

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