Best of the Week
22nd March 2013 | Richard Nash | Virginia Quarterly Review
As the title suggests, an account of the writing and publishing industry from a business perspective. Interesting throughout, including discussions of the uses of copyright, the economics of book retailing, the impact of computerised typesetting, and the role of the writer before Gutenberg. In brief: the business practices of publishers may often appear inefficient, even perverse, but publishing as an activity is vital and robust. "What we have right now is a system that produces great literature in spite of itself"
21st March 2013 | Kyle Biehle | Ivory Sofa
Data visualisation. "So now I'm approaching fifty, twenty years post musical identity crisis, and I wonder if there's any magic left. But I am also a data guy now, and the anecdotal data I have acquired over time tells me that fifty year old rock artists don't do very good work. Certainly nothing close to what they achieved in their twenties. Are there examples of artists who not only age gracefully, but who actually get better? I grabbed some data"
27th March 2013 | Harry Mount | Spectator
London's finest houses are being hollowed out and knocked through to suit billionaire buyers who want huge, swanky living spaces. "Those handsome corridors, stairs, doors and walls are heading for the skip. And, with them, goes the odd, private, shy genius of the British terraced house: our greatest contribution to world architecture"
25th March 2013 | Patrick Radden Keefe | New Yorker
How to make a Hollywood blockbuster — in this case, Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Notes from conversations in which George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan hashed out ideas for plot and hero, “the doctor with the bullwhip”, whom Lucas first wanted to call Indiana Smith, and who borrowed much of his style from Bogart
26th March 2013 | David Bauer | Medium
"You wake up at 7am on a wonderful morning in early 2000. Dreamy as you are, you grab your phone to check the news and your email. Well, the news is that no one has texted you while you were sleeping and that your phone doesn’t connect to the internet. Because, well, you don’t have a smartphone. Just like everyone else doesn’t"
28th February 2013 | Simon Garfield | Intelligent Life
Urologist specialising in prostate cancer contracts prostate cancer, opts for surgery. "Professor Dasgupta places his colleague’s gland on a piece of gauze and prods and stretches it. It is dark-reddish, grainy and meaty, and if I hadn’t just seen it functioning inside a human being I would have thought it as benign as a piece of chicken tikka"
25th March 2013 | Nicholas Spice | London Review Of Books
Long, discursive essay. "If there is a common denominator to the attacks on Wagner’s work as bad for us it is the idea that it causes a loss of self-control or volition in the listener: that, in representing emotional states beyond normal bounds, it lures us into these states so that we lose what Auden called our ‘dream of safety’." But how does Wagner achieve this?
21st March 2013 | Lapham's Quarterly | Henry Du Pré Labouchère
Culinary notes from a resident of Paris in the siege of 1870-71. "Yesterday I had a slice of Pollux for dinner. Pollux and his brother Castor are two elephants from the zoological gardens, which have been killed. It was tough, coarse, and oily. Although French cooks can do wonders, to cook an elephant with a spirit lamp is beyond their ingenuity"
Thought for the week:
"Most of what they call humility is successfully disguised arrogance" — Nassim Nicholas Taleb