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In the News 30.06.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 30.06.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 30.06.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Just a recent blip in the cosmos, are humans insignificant?

Humanity occupies a very small place in an unfathomably vast Universe. Travelling at the speed of light – 671 million miles per hour – it would take us 100,000 years to cross the Milky Way. But we still wouldn’t have gone very far. By recent estimates, the Milky Way is just one of 2 trillion galaxies in the observable Universe, and the region of space that they occupy spans at least 90 billion light-years. If you imagine Earth shrunk down to the size of a single grain of sand, and you imagine the size of that grain of sand relative to the entirety of the Sahara Desert, you are still nowhere near to comprehending how infinitesimally small a position we occupy in space. The American astronomer Carl Sagan put the point vividly in 1994 when discussing the famous ‘Pale Blue Dot’ photograph taken by Voyager 1. Our planet, he said, is nothing more than ‘a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam’.

And that’s just the spatial dimension. The observable Universe has existed for around 13.8 billion years. If we shrink that span of time down to a single year, with the Big Bang occurring at midnight on 1 January, the first Homo sapiens made an appearance at 22:24 on 31 December. It’s now 23:59:59, as it has been for the past 438 years, and at the rate we’re going it’s entirely possible that we’ll be gone before midnight strikes again. The Universe, on the other hand, might well continue existing forever, for all we know. Sagan could have added, then, that our time on this mote of dust will amount to nothing more than a blip. In the grand scheme of things we are very, very small.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

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The Rise of the Thought Leader How the Superrich Have Funded a New Class of Intellectual.

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Antonio Gramsci jotted down the fragments that would become his theory of intellectuals. New classes, like the European bourgeoisie after the Industrial Revolution, he proposed, brought with them their own set of thinkers, which he called “organic intellectuals”—theorists, technicians, and administrators, who became their “functionaries” in a new society. Unlike “traditional intellectuals” who held positions in the old class structure, organic intellectuals helped the bourgeoisie establish its ideas as the invisible, unquestioned conventional wisdom circulating in social institutions.

Today, Gramsci’s theory has been largely overlooked in the ongoing debate over the supposed decline of the “public intellectual” in America. Great minds, we are told, no longer captivate the public as they once did, because the university is too insular and academic thinking is too narrow. Such laments frequently cite Russell Jacoby’s The Last Intellectuals (1987), which complained about the post-1960s professionalization of academia and waxed nostalgic for the bohemian, “independent” intellectuals of the earlier twentieth century. Writers like the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof attribute this sorry state of affairs to the culture of Ph.D. programs, which, Kristof claims, have glorified “arcane unintelligibility while disdaining impact and audience.” If academics cannot bring their ideas to a wider readership, these familiar critiques imply, it is because of the academic mindset itself.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Republic

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Shop the Tuscany Tote in Midnight
at Belgrave Crescent & shop.thisisglamorous.com

The Story of Feminist Punk in 33 Songs

Feminism,” “punk,” and “feminist punk” can have many definitions, culturally and personally. In attempting to capture the spirit and story of this lineage, we had to narrow down these enormous fields. We looked for songs that make their feminist messages clear—not just songs by punks who are feminists, and not songs that were “punk” or “feminist” in spirit alone. In this context, we defined punk as some kind of raw expression, not only an attitude. We looked for rallying cries that have questioned, explored, and destroyed stereotypes, in which the form of the music has mirrored the message. We believe they are classics that cross canons, set precedents, and uphold virtues for the idea of feminism in punk, and the artists who wrote them have moved punk forward.

We’ll let a true punk vanguard take it from here….

Read the rest of this article at: Pitchfork

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Polymathic Spree

Thisisglamorous articles of interest 21.06.17

We live in a multidisciplinary era. Kanye West sells out arenas and designs fashion; Bob Dylan makes acclaimed albums and takes home the Nobel Prize for Literature. Some figures pursue multiple creative disciplines in tandem: as readers of her memoir Just Kids can attest, Patti Smith’s beginnings as both a poet and songwriter were inexorably intertwined. A recent article on Hyperallergic about Agnès Varda noted that “[i]n the last 15 years, Varda has embraced the label of visual artist rather than the more specific filmmaker.” Others take on new challenges later in life. In the mid-1990s, visual artists Robert Longo, David Salle, and Julian Schnabel all delved into the world of filmmaking, with mixed results: Schnabel has continued to make films to general acclaim, while Longo’s first feature film, the William Gibson adaptation Johnny Mnemonic, has also been his only feature film to date.

The visual artists who have made the foray into prose appear fewer in number, but their work remains fascinating, both in terms of how it dovetails (or not) with their work in other mediums and how it is received by larger audiences. There’s a question of accessibility: art can have an inherent sort of exclusivity, where a specific work may end up in a museum, a gallery, or a permanent collection. A book, on the other hand, is more democratic: for fifteen dollars or so you can own a new trade paperback; for less than that, you can purchase an electronic edition; and your local library may well have a few copies on hand as well.

Leonora Carrington is one figure whose work spans the rarefied strata of 20th-century fine art and compellingly surreal fiction. Carrington was a Surrealist artist with an extensive career: she died in her nineties, and was making work constantly for most of her life. In the obituary that ran in the New York Times after her death in 2011, the focus was on her paintings and sculptures, while her work in prose was primarily confined to a short paragraph at the end:

Read the rest of this article at: Hazlitt

Living Well Is the Best Revenge

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A writer like F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose life can almost be said to have attracted more attention than his work, may have to wait a long time before his literary reputation finds its true level. Although “Tender Is the Night,” the novel Fitzgerald liked best of the four he published during his lifetime, was generally considered a failure when it first appeared (even by Fitzgerald, who tried to improve its standing by writing a revised version that nearly everybody agreed was much worse), it has been quietly assuming, over the years, something like the status of an American classic. Sales in the past twelve months exceeded five hundred and fifty thousand copies, or about forty-five times the sale of the original edition. The book, which was out of print when Fitzgerald died, in 1940, is now available in four editions, and is required reading in a large number of college courses in American literature. If many critics still regard it as a failure, they now tend to see it as a noble failure, a flawed masterpiece, and if they still complain that the disintegration of Dick Diver, its psychiatrist hero, is never satisfactorily resolved, most of them concede that Diver is one of those rare heroes in American fiction about whom the reader really cares, and that the account of his disintegration, ambiguous though it may be, is so harrowing that it makes the glittering perfection of plot in a novel like “The Great Gatsby” seem almost too neat. The real trouble with the book, as every college English major knows, is that Fitzgerald started out by using a friend of his named Gerald Murphy as the model for Dick Diver, and then allowed Diver to change, midway through the narrative, into F. Scott Fitzgerald. To a lesser degree, he did the same thing with his heroine, Nicole Diver, who has some of the physical characteristics and mannerisms of Sara Murphy, Gerald’s wife, but is in all other respects Zelda Fitzgerald. The double metamorphosis was readily apparent at the time to friends of the Fitzgeralds and the Murphys. Ernest Hemingway wrote Fitzgerald a cutting letter about the book, accusing him of cheating with his material; by starting with the Murphys and then changing them into different people, Hemingway contended, Fitzgerald had produced not people at all but beautifully faked case histories. Gerald Murphy raised the same point when he read the novel, which was dedicated “To Gerald and Sara—Many Fêtes,” and Fitzgerald’s reply, Murphy recalled the other day, almost floored him. “The book,” Fitzgerald said, “was inspired by Sara and you, and the way I feel about you both and the way you live, and the last part of it is Zelda and me because you and Sara are the same people as Zelda and me.” This astonishing statement served to confirm a long-held conviction of Sara Murphy’s that Fitzgerald knew very little about people, and nothing at all about the Murphy’s.

Now in their seventies, the Murphys today are not inclined to think very much about the past. The book was published in 1934, and Gerald spent the next twenty-two years in his father’s old position as president of Mark Cross, the New York leather-goods store—a position he took out of necessity and from which he retired, with great relief, in 1956. Last summer, he and Sara both reread “Tender Is the Night” for the first time since it was published, and with varying reactions. “I didn’t like the book when I read it, and I liked it even less on rereading,” Sara said. “I reject categorically any resemblance to us or to anyone we knew at any time.” Gerald, on the other hand, was fascinated to discover (he had not noticed it the first time) how Fitzgerald had used “everything he noted or was told about by me” during the years that the two couples spent together in Paris and on the Riviera—the years from 1924 to 1929. Almost every incident, he became aware, almost every conversation in the opening section of the book had some basis in an actual event or conversation involving the Murphys, although it was often altered or distorted in detail.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @belenhostalet; @katya_jackson; @lovelypepa