V.S. Naipaul, Brian Eno, Poison, Scale, Unruliness

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Poet Of The Displaced

Ian Buruma | New York Review Of Books | 13th August 2018

Sympathetic memoir of V.S. Naipaul. “Naipaul was our greatest poet of the half-baked and the displaced. It was the imaginary wholeness of civilizations that sometimes led him astray. He became too sympathetic to the Hindu nationalism that is now poisoning India politics, as if a whole Hindu civilization were on the rise after centuries of alien Muslim or Western despoliations. There is no such thing as a whole civilization. But some of Naipaul’s greatest literature came out of his yearning for it” (1,420 words)

A Conversation With Brian Eno

David Mitchell | Believer | 1st July 2011

“When you think about it, why does music have any emotional appeal at all? Why should something so unlike anything else in our experience — unlike, that is, any sound generated by the normal workings of the world — have an emotional impact? Perfume seems to have a similar directness, in that we are affected by it without really being able to articulate why; as opposed to stories, for example, where we have a clearer sense of what’s going on and why it might matter to us” (3,800 words)

The Poisoning Of A Russian Double Agent

Tom Lamont | GQ | 13th August 2018

Vivid if inconclusive account of the poisoning of a retired Russian spy and his daughter in England. Their doorknob was coated with a slow-acting nerve agent — slow enough for them to go out, have lunch, then collapse on a park bench. “Passers-by assumed they were high.” The poison came from Russia. So, probably, did the poisoners. “They would have expected this to be a relatively swift assassination, quickly forgotten, but the method used would stick in the mind of people back home” (6,600 words)

The Sizes Of Things

Dan Garisto | Nautilus | 14th August 2018

Short, interesting conversation with Caleb Scharf of Columbia University about very large and very small things. “We have all this rich stuff going on in the scale of the solar system and the earth and our biological scale. That’s where we’ve accumulated the most knowledge. It is the scale where matter seems to condense down, where things appear solid, when in fact, it’s equally empty on the inside. Is that a human cultural bias? Or is that telling us something profound about the universe?” (890 words)


Agnes Callard | 11th August 2018

“Unruly people reject the organizing principles not only of our society, but of our own lives. We slap away the outstretched hand of the friend who wants to integrate us into the group. Why act like this? What is unruliness for? One possibility is that it is for nothing, a form of self-destruction. A more optimistic take is that it offers us a way of holding out. For the club worth belonging to. For the self worth loving. For the rules worth following. Unruliness says: Don’t love the one you’re with!” (1,750 words)

Video of the day There’s A Rang-tan In My Bedroom

What to expect:

Emma Thompson reads a nursery rhyme that will reduce you to tears within a minute (1m 30s)

Thought for the day

We all have imaginary friends, who are generally real people
Aaron Haspel

Podcast Is Marriage Getting Harder? | NPR

Shankar Vedantam and guests discuss whether we have come to expect too much from marriage
(51m 26s)

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