Zohar, Futurology, Mediocrity, Druze, Art Tips

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Restoring Kabbalah To Mainstream Judaism

Arthur Green | Atlantic | 25th August 2017

The Zohar, a central work of the Kabbalah and of Jewish mysticism, has become accessible to a wider general readership thanks to a “highly readable and often soaringly poetic” translation from Stanford University Press. But is that a good thing? Are we letting daylight in upon magic? “The Zohar was meant to be seen as an esoteric work. Its strange and often impenetrable language increased its sense of mystery. Its image-rich text fueled the imagination” (1,580 words)

What We Get Wrong About Technology

Tim Harford | Undercover Economist | 29th August 2017

Remember that moment in Blade Runner when Deckard the policeman wants to make a date with the android — and calls her up on a payphone? How could Hollywood give us AI but not cellphones? “When asked to think about how new inventions might shape the future, our imaginations tend to leap to technologies that are sophisticated beyond comprehension. Yet when asked to picture how everyday life might look in a society sophisticated enough to build such biological androids, our imaginations falter” (3,170 words)

Premium Mediocre

Venkatesh Rao | Ribbonfarm | 17th August 2017

“Premium mediocre is the finest bottle of wine at Olive Garden. Premium mediocre is ‘truffle’ oil on anything. Premium mediocrity only signals an appearance of striving upwards. Everybody in the premium mediocre world recognizes that it is not a reliable indicator of actual upward striving. Premium mediocrity is dressing for the lifestyle you’re supposed to want, in order to hold on to the lifestyle you can actually afford — for now — while trying to engineer a stroke of luck” (7,200 words)

Getting Close To Judgement Day

Alev Scott | Times Literary Supplement | 16th August 2017

Druze clerics in Lebanon explain their doctrines. “Unlike their decidedly secular and candid warlord leader, the Druze are known for their pacifist, puritanical faith and the fierce secrecy with which they protect it. As well as following the teachings of the Bible and Qur’an (officially classed as Muslims, they call themselves ‘Unitarians’), the Druze believe in reincarnation and give the teachings of Plato and Pythagoras equal weight to those of prophets in the Abrahamic traditions” (1,660 words)

101 Things We Have Learned

Christies | 29th August 2017

Miscellany of tips for art collectors. “Modern and contemporary works typically hang at 1.55 metres from the floor, to the middle of the picture”. “The inclusion of boron will turn a diamond blue, and radiation in the ground will turn it green”. “The unique Swiss Mad watch by H. Moser & Cie is made partly from Swiss cheese”. “Never store pearls in cotton wool”. “Clenching one’s buttocks is a technique Christie’s auctioneers are taught to stop their hands from shaking” (4,200 words)

Video of the day: Munch / Van Gogh

What to expect:

Split-screen comparison of the sensibilities and stimuli of Munch and Van Gogh (1’30”)

Thought for the day

When it’s true, it doesn’t need to be said
Tina Fey

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