In the News 01.09.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Thursday 1st September, 2016
Are We Really So Modern?
We like to think of ourselves as living in an age of unprecedented disruption. Just look at all the commonplace features of our world that didn’t exist a century ago—jet travel, television, space flight, the Internet. If you could transport someone from the year 1916 to the present, we ask a little proudly, wouldn’t that person be stupefied by the changes? And, of course, he would be, at least for a few days, until he figured out how everything worked. But one thing would be very familiar to such a time traveller: the pride, and the anxiety, we feel about being so modern. For people in the early twentieth century were as acutely aware of their modernity as we are of ours, and with just as good reason. After all, they might have said, imagine someone transported from 1816 to 1916: what would that person have thought of railroads, telegraphs, machine guns, and steamships?
Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker
The Neuroscience & Psychology of Procrastination, and How to Overcome It
Procrastination is a skill, an art, a slight-of-hand technique. I’m procrastinating right now, but you’d never know it. How many tabs do I have open in my multiple browser windows? Pick a number, any number. How many tasks have I put off today? How many dreams have I deferred? I’ll never tell. The unskilled procrastinators stick out, they’re easy to spot. They talk a lot about what they’re not doing. They run around in circles of bewilderment like the troubled hero of Dr. Seuss’s Hunches in Bunches. The skilled practitioner makes it look easy.
But no matter how much Facebook time you get in before lunch and still manage to ace those performance reviews, you’re really only cheating yourself, am I right? You wanted to finish that novel/symphony/improv class/physics theorem. But something stopped you. Something in your brain perhaps. That’s where these things usually happen. When Stuart Langfield asked a neuroscientist about the neuroscience of procrastination, he got the following answer: “People think that you can turn on an MRI and see where something’s happening in the brain, but the truth is that’s not so. This stuff is vastly more complicated, so we have theories.”
Read the rest of this article at Openculture
Willow and Jaden
At this year’s Met Ball in May, our friend, Interview alumnus André Leon Talley welcomed Willow and Jaden Smith to the red carpet by enthusiastically proclaiming them the future of fashion. We happen to agree with him—and not just because the two teenage artists project an earnestness and general, as well as gender, nonconformity that happens to align with the fashion industry’s present tastes—we believe that Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s children and namesakes are the future, and we wouldn’t necessarily even narrow the claim to fashion alone.
For starters, will we be able to so easily differentiate between artist, designer, model, and performer in the future? And will those differentiations even matter? Will difference hold back the great merge? Or will industries—be it fashion, music, movies, technology—integrate even more comprehensively than they are now? Maybe in the future, the Buddha will have been right and all will be one.
Read the rest of this article at Interview
Why People Collect Art
The oil billionaire J Paul Getty was famously miserly. He installed a payphone in his mansion in Surrey, England, to stop visitors from making long-distance calls. He refused to pay ransom for a kidnapped grandson for so long that the frustrated kidnappers sent Getty his grandson’s ear in the mail. Yet he spent millions of dollars on art, and millions more to build the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. He called himself ‘an apparently incurable art-collecting addict’, and noted that he had vowed to stop collecting several times, only to suffer ‘massive relapses’. Fearful of airplanes and too busy to take the time to sail to California from his adopted hometown of London, he never even visited the museum his money had filled.
Getty is only one of the many people through history who have gone to great lengths to collect art – searching, spending, and even stealing to satisfy their cravings. But what motivates these collectors?
Read the rest of this article at aeon
Lost cities #1: Babylon – how war almost erased ‘mankind’s greatest heritage site’
In the first of a 10-part series, Justin Marozzi tells the story of this once-mighty city in Iraq – a microcosm of human history. Besieged by wars and weather, ‘restored’ by Saddam Hussein, what has become of mystical Babylon?
Of all the world’s lost cities, none surely can compete for evocative splendour, age or mystery with Babylon. Here on the desert plains 60 miles south of Baghdad, where the sun turns horizons into flashing pools of mercury, is where so much human history began.
Land of the Fertile Crescent, bounded by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, this is successively the realm of Sumer and Akkad, Assyria, Babylonia, Mesopotamia and Iraq. Adam and Eve’s Garden of Eden is said to have been nearby.
If Mesopotamia is the cradle of urban civilisation, Babylon is its firstborn child. First mentioned in the 23rd century BC, it looms larger in the records from around 1792 BC, the beginning of the reign of Hammurabi.
Babylon’s second most famous king is remembered for his uncompromising code of laws – many ending with the ominous phrase: “He shall be put to death” – which sit today in the Louvre on an eight-foot stela of carved black diorite. Hammurabi was the first to fashion Babylon into the capital of a kingdom encompassing southern Mesopotamia and part of Assyria in northern Iraq.
But the Babylon that elicits a thrill in anyone with a passing interest in history is the city of that Old Testament anti-hero: the Jew-slaying, temple-smashing, gold-loving despot Nebuchadnezzar II, who succeeded to the throne in 605 BC.
Read the rest of this article at The Guardian