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News 10.11.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 10.11.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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Glen Borgerding met Randy Constant in the late nineteen-nineties, when landowners in northern Missouri hired them to help set up an organic soybean farm. Borgerding, an agronomist from Minnesota, took soil samples and made recommendations about fertilizer and weed control; Constant, a Missouri native who had a day job as a regional sales manager for the Pfister seed company, ran the farm’s day-to-day operations. By then, Borgerding had spent more than a decade in organic agriculture. Constant had not, but he had evident ambition. Borgerding recently told me, “Randy was an exciting guy to be around—when things were working well.”

Constant, then in his thirties, had a degree in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri. Since graduating, he had “worked his way up the agricultural corporate ladder,” as his wife, Pam, later put it. In the eighties, a time of collapse in America’s farming economy, he had taken a series of sales and managerial jobs across the Midwest, before returning with Pam and their three children to live in Chillicothe, Missouri—a town of about nine thousand residents, ninety miles northeast of Kansas City, where he and Pam had grown up. Constant became active in Chillicothe’s United Methodist church, and later served as president of the town’s school board.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 10.11.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 10.11.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On Jan. 28, 2019, Nikole Hannah-Jones, who has been a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine since 2015, came to one of our weekly ideas meetings with a very big idea. My notes from the meeting simply say, “NIKOLE: special issue on the 400th anniversary of African slaves coming to U.S.,” a milestone that was approaching that August. This wasn’t the first time Nikole had brought up 1619. As an investigative journalist who often focuses on racial inequalities in education, Nikole has frequently turned to history to explain the present. Sometimes, reading a draft of one of her articles, I’d ask if she might include even more history, to which she would remark that if I gave her more space, she would be happy to take it all the way back to 1619. This was a running joke, but it was also a reflection of how Nikole had been cultivating the idea for what became the 1619 Project for many years. Following that January meeting, she led an editorial process that over the next six months developed the idea into a special issue of the magazine, a special section of the newspaper and a multiepisode podcast series. Next week we are publishing a book that expands on the magazine issue and represents the fullest expression of her idea to date.

This book, which is called “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story,” arrives amid a prolonged debate over the version of the project we published two years ago. That project made a bold claim, which remains the central idea of the book: that the moment in August 1619 when the first enslaved Africans arrived in the English colonies that would become the United States could, in a sense, be considered the country’s origin.

The reasoning behind this is simple: Enslavement is not marginal to the history of the United States; it is inextricable. So many of our traditions and institutions were shaped by slavery, and so many of our persistent racial inequalities stem from its enduring legacy. Identifying the start of such a vast and complex system is a somewhat symbolic act. It was not until the late 1600s that slavery became codified with new laws in various colonies that firmly established the institution’s racial basis and dehumanizing structure. But 1619 marks the earliest beginnings of what would become this system. (It also could be said to mark the earliest beginnings of what would become American democracy: In July of that year, just weeks before the White Lion arrived in Point Comfort with its human cargo, the Virginia General Assembly was called to order, the first elected legislative body in English America.)

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

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In 1872, at the age of 28, Friedrich Nietzsche announced himself to the world with The Birth of Tragedy, an elegiac account of the alienation of Western culture from its spiritual foundations. According to Nietzsche, the ancient Greeks had once mastered a healthy cultural balance between the ‘Apollonian’ impulse toward rational control and the ‘Dionysian’ desire for ecstatic surrender. From the 5th century BCE onward, however, Western intellectual culture has consistently skewed in favour of Apollonian rationalism to the neglect of the Dionysian – an imbalance from which it has never recovered.

The primary villain of this story was Plato, whom Nietzsche accused of setting philosophy on its rationalist track. Plato’s immortalisation of his teacher, Socrates, amounted to nothing less than a morbid obsession with intellectual martyrdom. His Theory of the Forms taught generations of philosophers to seek truth in metaphysical abstractions, while devaluing lived experiences in the physical world. Plato’s intellectual revolution, in particular, was born out of the destruction of myth. In his wake, philosophy had been left, in the words of the philosopher Stephen Snyder, ‘stripped of myth’ and starved of cultural roots. Modern culture, for Nietzsche, continued to languish in the shadow of Plato’s legacy, still grappling with its ‘loss of myth, the loss of a mythical home, a mythical, maternal womb’.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

News 10.11.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 10.11.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

One night in the early 1990s, at a dinner party at his home in Paris, Stéphane Bourgoin, an author and bookseller then of no particular renown, began to hold forth on the matter of serial killing. The topic was, at the time, quite novel. As a cultural trope, the string of mysterious homicides had of course been a fixture around the world since at least the time of Jack the Ripper, and the French more specifically had been acquainted with the idea since as early as the 15th century, when the nobleman Gilles de Rais was found to have kidnapped, tortured and ritualistically murdered nearly 150 young children. But these people had not been understood as “serial killers”. That phrase, and the notion that such criminals were a breed apart, impelled by a special, sexualised depravity, really entered into the popular imagination only in the 1970s, and then mostly in the US, where the FBI had established a unit of so-called “profilers” to catch them. The serial killer was not yet a cultural vogue in France, much less the cliche it was already becoming elsewhere. Bourgoin’s guests were barely familiar with the concept at all. They listened, as millions of other French-speakers would listen in the decades to come, horrified, nauseated and rapt.

Bourgoin told his invitees of the FBI programme, of the traits of the typical killer, and of some of the more awful American specimens. “We were utterly captivated,” Carol Kehringer, who was among Bourgoin’s guests that night, recalled recently. Kehringer was then in her 20s, starting out as a television producer. “I started asking him all sorts of questions,” she said, “and the more he spoke, the more I thought to myself: ‘We’ve got to do a film!’”

Bourgoin was a friend of Kehringer’s parents, and Kehringer had known him since she was a child. She was fond of him, but also found him to be “a bit out of sync”, she said, “always in his own little world”. Bourgoin ran Au Troisième Oeil – “The Third Eye” – a tiny secondhand bookshop specialising in mysteries and crime. He fit the part. His frame was slight and boyish, but he had grown rather doughy by his late 30s, with a pot belly and a pallid complexion that suggested, along with his spectacles, a sedentary life in the half-light of the margins. Before the bookshop, he had been an assistant on the sets of a few minor pornographic movies. He spoke in a small, satiny voice; there was something vaguely spectral about him. Yet he tended to grow quite animated – blue eyes shimmering, his speech breathy and fervent, a mischievous smile spreading over his lips – when discussing his pet interests. These skewed sharply toward the bizarre and, increasingly, the gruesome.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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News 10.11.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

During one of our last conversations, Dwayne Johnson’s five-year-old daughter, Jasmine, comes into his office to ask, a little impatiently, when he will be available to eat some lemon cake with her. She has walked into the middle of a discussion about whether her father truly has presidential ambitions. Earlier this year, after a poll suggested that 46 percent of Americans have some enthusiasm for this recurrently floated idea, Johnson responded on Instagram (where he currently has 270 million followers, the second most of anyone on the planet): “I don’t think our Founding Fathers EVER envisioned a six-four, bald, tattooed, half-Black, half-Samoan, tequila drinking, pick up truck driving, fanny pack wearing guy joining their club—but if it ever happens it’d be my honor to serve you, the people.”

Johnson and I go back and forth on this strange subject for some time as he tries to honestly describe where he stands. He explains that he finds the idea humbling, concedes that he has talked to people in politics and done “a small amount of research and analysis to see where this comes from and to see what it could look like in the future,” and adds suggestively that “indicators are all very positive—in, for example, 2024, and in, for example, 2028.” He is not, he confirms, ruling the possibility out. But then he loops back to this: “You know, at the end of the day, I don’t know the first thing about politics. I don’t know the first thing about policy. I care deeply about our country. I care about every fucking American who bleeds red, and that’s all of them. And—there’s no delusion here—I may have some decent leadership qualities, but that doesn’t necessarily make me a great presidential candidate. That’s where I am today.”

This is when Jasmine appears to declare her more-lemon-cake-related agenda.

“As soon as I’m done, I’m going to come out and see you, okay?” her father tells her, gently. Then he asks her a question: “Do you know what the president of the United States is?”

Jasmine shakes her head.

“We’re actually talking about that right now,” he explains.

“Oh,” she says.

“If Daddy can become the president of the United States,” Johnson clarifies.

Jasmine—by way of answer or comic accident—indicates the ice-and-tequila-filled tumbler on Johnson’s desk and asks a question of her own:

“Are you drinking this?”

Read the rest of this article at: Vanity Fair

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