Suicide, Motherhood, 2001, Bill Gates, Thomas Ades, George Plimpton

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

Designing Against Suicide

Sarah Perry | View From Hell | 10th July 2016

A slightly confused opening, but the argument clarifies soon after, and very interesting it is too — that some common mental illnesses may have evolved as defences against suicide. “Depression is a kind of paralysis. Excessive sleeping is common. Many depressed people are unable to leave their beds or homes very much. They cannot form coherent plans and act on them. For a mechanism to protect against suicide, this kind of paralysis might work just well enough” (1,300 words)

The Stranger Guest

Lily Gurton-Wachter | LA Review Of Books | 29th July 2016

Motherhood is under-represented in literature and almost entirely absent from philosophy — an “odd omission, given how many people in the history of the world have either had a baby or been one”. High time to give motherhood its due as a great part of human life. Philosophers “should look to pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting as an opportunity to think deeply about the distinction between self and other, the relation between body and mind, the meaning of being or of life itself” (3,800 words)

2001: A Space Odyssey

Damon Smith | Reverse Shot | 28th July 2016

Expert appreciation of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, “the first modern sci-fi movie”, an “audacious epic” in which Kubrick dispenses with the clichés of the genre to “examine coolly our relationship with technology and the grand mystery of cosmic reality”. His use of “mythic totems” and “baffling set pieces” at crucial junctures makes the logic of the narrative, developed with Arthur C. Clarke, “intentionally fuzzy and open to innumerable readings”. It sums to “an origin myth, an alternate history of the universe” (3,600 words)

America’s Best Days Are Not Behind Us

Bill Gates | Gates Notes | 26th July 2016

Bill Gates reads, enjoys and disagrees with Robert Gordon’s new book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth. Gordon argues that America’s astonishing run of growth between 1870 to 1970 was due to basic innovations — the motor car and mains electricity among them — which have been fully exploited and will not be repeated. Gates argues that the digital and computing revolution is still in its early stages, and will have a far greater economic and social impact than Gordon allows (1,220 words)

The Exterminating Angel

Fiona Maddocks | Guardian | 31st July 2016

Rave review for Thomas Adès’s “fabulously inventive” new opera, The Exterminating Angel, brimming with “exquisite arias” and “too many theatrical and musical coups to mention”. “It’s as if all music is buoyantly alive and coexisting in its two-hour span: from Wagner to Mussorgsky, Bartók, Nielsen, Ravel, Shostakovich and Nancarrow; from 12th-century chanson to chaconne and choral polyphony, via flamenco and Stravinsky, forward into melody and backwards into dissonance” (1,530 words)

There’s The Great Man

Terry McDonell | Paris Review | 2nd August 2016

An affectionate sketch of George Plimpton. “George couldn’t remember names, especially men’s names, but that didn’t matter. ‘There’s the great man’, he would say at his parties, and the unnamed guest would beam. The Lesson of George was: Good times should be orchestrated, not left to the uncertainties of chance. This was the most important thing A. E. Hotchner learned from Hemingway, and George said ‘Papa’ had taught him that same lesson. There is nothing sadder than small regrets” (2,200 words)

Video of the day: Psychometrics

What to expect:

Stylised satire of the TED and self-help world which reduces everything, ourselves included, to slogans (3’02”)

Thought for the day

Beware of telling an improbable truth
Thomas Fuller

Join 150,000+ curious readers who grow with us every day

No spam. No nonsense. Unsubscribe anytime.

Great! Check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription
Please enter a valid email address!
You've successfully subscribed to The Browser
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
Could not sign in! Login link expired. Click here to retry
Cookies must be enabled in your browser to sign in