As in Kang’s mystery novel “A Beautiful Poison,” poisons play a starring role in her new nonfiction book, “Quackery.” She and her co-author, Nate Pedersen, explore some of medicine’s most bizarre theories on the uses of everything from arsenic to radium. Deborah Blum interviews her for Undark.… Read the rest
In this installment of What I Left Out — a recurring feature in which writers share a chapter that didn’t make it into their latest book — author and scientist Martin Doyle tells how a ragtag team of researchers and river guides are trying to repair the intricate food web disrupted by the Glen Canyon Dam.… Read the rest
Breakups can go many ways. Some people remain friends. Others seek revenge by posting the ugliest pictures they can find on Instagram. Then there’s Olinka Vištica … Read the rest
The following video created by an archivist at Cornell University’s Library, New York, shows a 1925 copy of Rudyard Kipling's "Kim". The book appears to be a typical hard bound with a decorative spine and gilded fore edge. The person handling the book in the video then holds the block of pages between the thumb and the rest of the fingers and bends it to fan out the edges slightly. All of a sudden, a lovely painting of a landscape pops out of the book’s edge.
This form of fore-edge decoration is known as fore-edge painting, and they were very popular during the 18th century through the early 20th century. But the history of fore-edge painting goes back even further.
Both the Mafia and the Catholic Church in Sicily have effectively recognised the business opportunity represented by migrants. As with many private companies, they are pocketing government money for looking after these vulnerable people from Africa and Asia, making extra profits by cost-cutting in the quality of the food and accommodation they offer. At the same time, camps often take a hefty cut of what migrants earn through working outside as cleaners, labourers or bar staff – often as much as 50 percent of their earnings.
The Mafia-run camp in Corleone was an intriguing place to visit in this respect. This is a small village with a population of 12,000 in the province of Palermo that is famous for having given the characters in The Godfather … Read the rest
One hundred years ago, the New York Dadaists self-published two editions of a small art journal called The Blind Man — a title chosen to satirize the general public’s impaired vision when it came to seeing radical modernist art. Edited by the journal’s founders Marcel Duchamp, Beatrice Wood, and Henri-Pierre Roché, this seriously funny community rag contained contributions from the three editors, along with Mina Loy, Walter Conrad Arensberg, Francis Picabia, Gabrièle Buffet-Picabia, Allen Norton, Clara Tice, Alfred Stieglitz, Charles Demuth, Charles Duncan, Erik Satie, Carl Van Vechten… Read the rest
In a mantra-like fashion, Lu Xun (born Zhou Shuren, 1881-1936) was called the “sage of modern China” by Mao Zedong, spurring his posthumous popularity. A modern author, Lu Xun may not deserve the appellation “sage,” usually reserved for Confucius and the like. But, like the ancient sages, schoolchildren have been required to study and memorize his texts, and as a result he is rarely read or liked. Then again, he’s proclaimed to be China’s greatest modern author — although he died before the People’s Republic was founded, and long before the PRC’s proud modernizations. That he lived during an earlier period of modernization in China, before it adopted regressive policies, usually goes unremarked. Looking back, he is an author for this modern China.
Known, after his … Read the rest
Google Books was the company’s first moonshot. But 15 years later, the project is stuck in low-Earth orbit.
Books can do anything. As Franz Kafka once said, “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.”
It was Kafka, wasn’t it? Google confirms this. But where did he say it? Google offers links to some quotation websites, but they’re generally unreliable. (They misattribute everything, usually to Mark Twain.)
To answer such questions, you need Google Book Search, the tool that magically scours the texts of millions of digitized volumes. Just find the little “more” tab at the top of the Google results page — it’s right past Images, Videos, and News. Then click on it, find “Books,” and … Read the rest
“There is no whole self. It suffices to walk any distance along the inexorable rigidity that the mirrors of the past open to us in order to feel like outsiders, naively flustered by our own bygone days.”
You find yourself in a city you hadn’t visited in years, walking along a street you had once strolled down with your fingers interlacing a long-ago lover’s, someone you then cherished as the most extraordinary person in the world, who is now married in Jersey with two chubby bulldogs. You find yourself shocked by how an experience of such vivid verisimilitude can be fossilized into a mere memory buried in the strata of what feels like a wholly different person, living a wholly different life — it was you … Read the rest
“We shape our self to fit this world and by the world are shaped again.”
“Relationship is the fundamental truth of this world of appearance,” wrote the great Indian poet and philosopher Tagore — the first non-European awarded a Nobel Prize — in his 1930 meditation on human nature and the interdependence of existence. Nearly a century later, the English poet, philosopher, and redeemer of meaning David Whyte gave shape to that relational inextricability of our lives in his beautiful poem “Working Together,” found in his collection River Flow: New & Selected Poems (public library).
In this recording from Krista Tippett’s altogether sublime On Being interview with Whyte, he reads this simple, transcendently wakeful poem of supreme relevance to our divided world:
… Read the rest