Konrad Schmid and Jens Schröter | Lapham's Quarterly | 13th December 2021 | U
It was only after the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70CE that Judaism became a religion focused on the study of sacred texts, ie a "religion of the book". Prior to that, it had been for centuries a faith centred on places of worship, with a supplementary oral culture of stories, proverbs, songs and prayers. Some traces of these lost texts can still be discerned in the Bible (1,898 words)
Fiona Glen | 3:AM | 10th December 2021 | U
Northern Europe in the 1870s experienced a kind of "cephalomania", in which supposed reports of giant squids, kraken and other "malevolent molluscs" set fashionable tongues wagging. Maritime advances meant sailors could travel further faster to provide "proof" that such creatures existed. "Like a Rorschach test inkblot, it ripples trickily, gathering associations and uncertainties" (2,748 words)
Kate Connolly | Guardian | 9th December 2021 | U
On a filmmaker's all-consuming and lifelong pursuit of the truth about Leni Riefenstahl's complicity with Nazism. "Every lie or error that Riefenstahl had introduced into the public record, no matter how tiny, was an abomination to her... 'Take it to its logical conclusion and one day people might think Hitler was a second-rate landscape painter,' she once told me" (6,682 words)
Jesse Ellison | Esquire | 8th December 2021 | U
Old fashioned true crime thriller that played out on the remote island of Vinalhaven off the coast of Maine in the summer of 2020. The place is over an hour's ferry ride from the mainland and had one police officer. A group of friends thought they had witnessed one lobster fisherman attacking another with an axe during a violent brawl. Nothing was the same afterwards (6,408 words)
Seán Williams | Public Domain Review | 8th December 2021 | U
The 1800s saw the highpoint of a "wonderfully weird" trend in England: "Little Switzerlands". Connected to the Enlightenment and Romanticism, the root of this preference for alpine plants and replica cottages was vague — "Switzerland was romanticised as the home of freedom and of intense sentimental attachment". The surviving creations are more enjoyable now, without context (4,620 words)
Podcast: Spaghetti | Recipe Club. A trio of food experts debate the best possible way to use up this ubiquitous form of pasta. Options for all diets are discussed before a "best recipe" is crowned (65m 03s)
Video: Philip Glass Etude 1&2 | YouTube | Reinier Sijpkens. The first two of Glass's six études for the piano are performed by a flugelhornist accompanying himself on a barrel organ (2m 45s)
"A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small parcel"
— John Ruskin
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