Rwanda, Song, Fire, Jack, Mind

Where Is Kigali?

Lindsey Hilsum | Granta | 2nd May 2019

What it was like to live through the Rwandan genocide. “We took the wounded to the hospital. The dying lay two or three to a bed. Trucks kept arriving loaded with more bodies. A woman came into the ward carrying a baby whose leg was partially severed. Relatives patiently told their stories, always the same. Hutu neighbours and soldiers had thrown grenades in their house because they were Tutsis. That night, after we left, the soldiers went into the wards and finished off most of the patients” (11,104 words)

Song — A Human Universal

Razib Khan | Gene Expression | 2nd May  2019

Worldwide ethnographic survey confirms that all humans have a disposition for music, much as all humans have a disposition for speech, both faculties in some way inborn. Music appears “in every society observed”. Variations in musical behaviour can be arranged along three main axes: formality, arousal, and religiosity. Musical behaviour “varies more within societies than across societies”. Music is “regularly associated with behavioural contexts such as infant care, healing, dance, and love” (540 words)

A Collective Loss

Nathalie Heinich | Books And Ideas | 2nd May 2019

French sociologist explains why the spectacle of Notre Dame on fire moved us so deeply. “Emotion is often a physiological response to a feeling of value or, more often still, to its transgression. The proof of heritage is that we are moved by it. Notre Dame illustrates all the properties of a heritage good: it is irreplaceable, it is associated with highly esteemed values (notably, but not exclusively, religious); it connects us spatially to a planetary community, and temporally to our ancestors and descendants" (2,450 words)

Anjelica Huston In Conversation

Andrew Goldman | Vulture | 1st May 2019

All interviews should be somewhat like this — in Q&A format, and ranging freely enough to give the reader a sense of eavesdropping on a spell-binding conversation. Topics here include: John Huston; drink; Carrie Fisher; Jack Nicholson; cocaine; Roman Polanski; Woody Allen; #MeToo; Oprah Winfrey; Eddie Murphy; Bill Murray; Ryan O’Neal. “Jack always had a bit of a problem with physical lethargy. He was tired, and I think probably, at a certain age, a little bump would cheer him up. Like espresso” (7,600 words)

In Praise Of Dementia

Charles Foster | Practical Ethics | 2nd May 2019

Not a persuasive argument,  but worth a hearing. “Statistically there is a good chance that I will develop dementia. Bring it on. It will strip me of some of my precious memories and some of my cognitive function, but it will also strip me of many of the neuroses that make life wretched. It may make me anxious, because the world takes on an unaccustomed form, but there are worse anxieties, such as the worry that comes from watching the gradual march of a terminal illness. The trade seems a good one” (985 words)

Video: How To Save Our Planet. Brief history of resource depletion and climate change. Gorgeous visuals. Breathless narration by David Attenborough (8m 27s)

Audio: The Disillusionment Of David Brooks | Ezra Klein Show. New York Times columnist talks about why he has come to doubt almost all the core values in which he used to believed (1h 38m 40s)

“Coincidences are God's way of remaining anonymous”
— Doris Lessing

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