Shostakovich, Francis Bacon, Aleksandar Hemon, Snapchat, Barack Obama

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

Instrument Of The State

Keith Miller | Literary Review | 8th February 2016

Perceptive review of Julian Barnes's novel about Shostakovich, The Noise Of Time. Barnes manages a "highly readable marriage of suave execution and chilly, grown-up subject matter". But the theme is a tired one — the pains of a great artist living under a tyrant. And strangely absent is the element which might have given the book true originality: Music. "I found this Shostakovich to be more of a writer than a composer" (1,230 words)

Francis Bacon: Late Paintings

David Carrier | Brooklyn Rail | 3rd February 2016

Rewarding short discussion of Francis Bacon's late paintings. "Seeing a large show of Bacon’s art is like being with a person who is always 'on', which is why there’s something exhausting about his presentation of high-pitched anxieties, his nihilism, and his often-expressed idea that he was some kind of outlaw. Violent, illegible action in the center of a large background, an inert field — that’s his essential subject" (700 words)

Deadly Treatment, Fatal Error

Aleksandar Hemon | Rolling Stone | 9th February 2016

On refugees. "The current approach is founded on a hope that an all-European obstacle course will stem the flow. Anything encouraging refugees to see the relative benefits of dying elsewhere helps: faulty life vests and frequent drownings; the absence of logistical and humanitarian support, apart from NGOs and amateur volunteers; abuse by robbers and police; paying Lebanon and Turkey to keep them in squalid camps, etc." (900 words)

The End Of Times

Ben Rosen | Buzzfeed | 8th February 2016

How the young live. What you can learn by watching a child use social media. "I would watch in awe as she flipped through her snaps, opening and responding to each one in less than a second with a quick selfie face. She answered all 40 of her friends’ snaps in under a minute. How was this even possible? Is she a freak of nature, or is this just how things are done when you’re young? What do these 'teens' know that I don’t?" (1,500 words)

I Miss Barack Obama

David Brooks | New York Times | 9th February 2016

President Obama has maintained an integrity and a humanity in office that is rare in modern American politics and that none of his prospective successors comes near to equalling. "Imagine if Barack and Michelle Obama joined the board of a charity you’re involved in. You’d be happy to have such people in your community. Could you say that comfortably about Ted Cruz?" (Metered paywall) (813 words)

Video of the day: The Wasteland

What to expect: An extract from TS Eliot's poem, read by Robert Montgomery (1'23")

Thought for the day

An ignorant person is one who doesn’t know what you have just found out
Will Rogers (

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