Some interesting links for the month:
- Opening with a L. A. Review post on Celebrity Warfare, with this quote:
“Let me furnish the amusements of the nation and there will be need of very few laws,” P. T. Barnum, the great impresario of the circus, told the New York Sun in 1880. In his essay “Superman Comes to the Supermarket,” Norman Mailer noted a strange depression at the 1960 Democratic convention, which didn’t make any sense until he saw John F. Kennedy in the flesh:
“I understood the mood of depression which had lain over the convention, because finally it was simple: the Democrats were going to nominate a man who, no matter how serious his political dedication might be, was indisputably and willy-nilly going to be seen as a great box-office actor, and the consequences of that were staggering and not at all easy to calculate.”
We are now living in the world Barnum and Mailer predicted. The United States has become a histriocracy. We are ruled by celebrity. Whether or not Trump himself is in power will not change this fact.
- Bit of a bizarre trivia piece from Atlas Obscura.
- Trends come and go in campus politics
- Since ‘nation-scale cyberattacks’ are in the imagination again, this piece on how it first happened in Estonia, in 2007.
- I’m going to keep plugging Inherent Vice as something you should watch, this time through a Youtube montage.
- Fun to hear Frank Herbert talk (!) about the “origins of Dune” (original recording, from Feb 1969)
- If you still aren’t persuaded of the extra-ordinary intelligence of octopuses, read this
- If you’re up for a long-form article on liberty, individuals etc. try this piece
For us, too, bearing the duties and responsibilities of freedom without being prepared for them poses great dangers, especially the danger of abandoning our liberty in return for security or the passing pleasures and distractions of our abundant age. This danger is avoidable only if we take the long way to liberty, the way that prepares us through the practice of responsibility and through the formation and refinement of our souls.
- Cool archaeology piece: inferring the existence of lost cities of the bronze age
- A Werner Herzog interview, because I recently watched a new documentary by him
- An Alan Moore interview, because …
- Umberto Eco on “the meaning of cell phones”
- Fascinating account of the “golden section” in the architecture of the Taj Mahal
- Bad news ahead for malls
- An inspirational story of self-publishing
- A random image that I liked (black-and-white, snow, fog, Moscow 1968)
- Finally, presenting a headline, without comment: “Johns Hopkins studying effects of psilocybin on brains of long-term meditators”