Space Art, Coma, John Cleese, Daddy, Vietnam

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

The Art Of Space Art

Kastalia Medrano | Paris Review | 14th September 2017

How artists depict outer space. “There was no particular moment that heralded a shift in aesthetic from the postwar space paintings to the ones we have today. The colors gradually became fuller, brighter, with the vibrancy we associate with really good images of nebulas. The transition from overexposed yellows and olive greens came in part from improved telemetric images, but some of it can be attributed to visual trends in the culture; think how orange everything was in the seventies” (1,890 words)

Reaching People In Vegetative States

Adrian Owen | TED | 14th September 2017

Neuroscientist talks about his work seeking signs of consciousness in seemingly vegetative patients, using MRI and EEG machines to measure responses to verbal stimuli: “When words are presented in pairs, the second word produces a bigger electrical blip in your brain if it is unrelated to the first. The brain is more surprised when ‘dog’ is followed by ‘chair’ than when ‘table’ is followed by ‘chair’, and the surprise registers as a detectable change in brain activity” (2,300 words)

In Conversation: John Cleese

David Marchese | Vulture | 12th September 2017

Topics include old age, death, marriage, humour, political correctness. “Jesus is said to have never laughed in the Bible, and I think it’s because laughter contains an element of surprise — something about the human condition that you haven’t spotted yet — and Jesus was rarely surprised. I still laugh, but many of the things that would have made me laugh 30 years ago — paradoxes about human nature — wouldn’t make me laugh any more because I just believe them to be true” (7,200 words)

What We Call Our Children

Anatoly Liberman | OUP | 13th September 2017

Early words for parents and children were strikingly similar across otherwise unrelated languages. In Gothic, a fourth-century Germanic language, atta meant “male parent”, echoing the Russian tyatya and the Hittite tata. “The puzzling thing is that atta, in exactly this form, has been recorded in many languages, not only Indo-European. Sometimes this complex means ‘father’, sometimes ‘mother’, and sometimes ‘sister'”. Atatürk was “father of the Turks”; Attila was the “Daddy” of the Huns (1,240 words)

Merely An Empire

David Thomson | London Review Of Books | 14th September 2017

Review of The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. “It seems to me the best film I have ever seen. We are in the sky, as the jungle is painted with napalm; in Washington DC, studying maps with optimistic generals; on the ground, as desperate dots struggle to occupy a hill scraped bare by artillery. If the film seems like an epic of fiction, it’s because it is less engaged in a quest for historical truth than it is in getting closer to some verities about life and death” (4,050 words)

Video of the day: Flowers In Space

What to expect:

Extreme flower arrangement. Japanese artist sends flowers into space, “where they have never been arranged before” (4’50”)

Thought for the day

No great man ever complains of want of opportunity
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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