News 17.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 17.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 17.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 17.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The centennial of Ulysses is in 2022, and coming back to the book after a gap of some years I remember the way it makes me fall asleep somewhere in the middle of Stephen’s walk across Sandymount Strand. The first two episodes—all fine. Surprisingly easy. What’s all the fuss about? Then the book unlooses itself entirely in the mind of Dedalus and starts to dream: “He comes, pale vampire, through storm his eyes, his bat sails bloodying the sea, mouth to her mouth’s kiss.”

Hang on. Did Stephen actually visit his aunt’s house, or just imagine that he did? Is he still thinking of his mother’s death? There is a dead dog on the strand, and also a live dog called Tatters, and this living dog is actually quite funny, as he smells a rock and pisses on it, then pisses at an “unsmelt” rock. “The simple pleasures of the poor,” according to Stephen, but is he also taking a leak? Or is he doing something else now?

I have felt it before, the same swooning sense of complexity, the same delicious struggle not to allow my own thoughts in. The attempt to make sense, fill in blanks, tell the real from the imagined, becomes tiring the way a profound conversation is tiring, when the subject is important but not clear. It is a kind of strenuous dreaming, very like writing fiction. Joyce has been in our brains, playing in the place where meaning is made, and this can feel disturbing or delightful. Something has been done to the act of reading itself. It seems as though he is inviting us to write his book for him, or with him, as we go along.

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

News 17.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Balmoral in Chestnut

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It is hard to imagine humans spending their lives in virtual reality when the experience amounts to waving your arms about in the middle of the lounge with a device the size of a house brick strapped to your face.

But this is where humanity is heading, says the philosopher David Chalmers, who argues for embracing the fate. Advances in technology will deliver virtual worlds that rival and then surpass the physical realm. And with limitless, convincing experiences on tap, the material world may lose its allure, he says.

Chalmers, a professor of philosophy and neural science at New York University, makes the case to embrace VR in his new book, Reality+. Renowned for articulating “the hard problem” of consciousness – which inspired Tom Stoppard’s play of the same name – Chalmers sees technology reaching the point where virtual and physical are sensorily the same and people live good lives in VR.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 17.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 17.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On 11 May 2021, I was sitting with a small group in a cafe in southern Tel Aviv, studying Arabic. Our teacher, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, had been telling us that he and his pregnant Jewish wife kept getting turned down by landlords who would not rent their property to a “mixed” couple. We were almost at the end of the three-hour class when air raid sirens sounded. A few days earlier, missiles had been launched from Gaza into Israel, but this was the first time they had hit Tel Aviv. Beyond the fear of an airstrike, I had a sad, heavy feeling. I had recently returned to live in Israel after 15 years studying and working abroad. I remembered a time, in the mid-1990s, when I had believed that Israel was going to be different, more just and less violent. That belief now felt like a distant memory.

My faith in Israel’s future had been inspired by an experience I shared as a teenager with a group of extraordinary people. As we waited for the rocket fire to stop, I recalled one of those people in vivid detail, a person I have barely been able to talk about in my home country for more than 20 years. His name was Aseel Aslih.

When I first met Aseel, in 1997, he was 14, a Palestinian citizen of Israel from Arraba in the Galilee and I was 13, a Jew from the Mediterranean city of Ashdod (formerly the Palestinian village Isdud). We had been chosen as Israeli delegates to a summer camp in the US for teenagers from conflict areas. A few months before camp we both attended a preparatory seminar for the Israeli delegation. We didn’t become friends straight away. I was skinny, wore denim overalls and mostly hung out with girls. Aseel was slightly taller than me, physically bigger and already had facial hair. I felt uncomfortable around boys, not sure if they were going to comment on the way I spoke, which at the time I thought was too feminine. But I warmed to Aseel. His presence was engaging. He had a habit of tilting his head slightly to the side, his cheeks rising as he smiled. In conversation, he lowered his voice and narrowed his eyes, demanding attention.

Our delegation to the summer camp, which was called Seeds of Peace, had been selected by the Israeli ministry of education, which was looking for people with leadership skills and good English. While knowledge of a foreign language is often a product of privilege, neither Aseel nor I came from wealthy families. My father was a taxi driver and my mother worked for the Port Authority; Aseel’s father owned a small business and his mother was an educational counsellor. Our knack for languages and the gift of curiosity made us good candidates.

Seeds of Peace was founded by two Americans, John Wallach and Bobbie Gottschalk, in 1993, the year that the Oslo peace accords were signed between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). The purpose of Seeds of Peace was to create bonds between young members of communities in conflict, and lay the groundwork for future understanding. Located in a rural part of Maine, the summer camp offered traditional activities like sports, art projects and talent shows; it also facilitated group dialogue sessions, in which campers from the different delegations talked about their hopes, fears and traumas with kids from enemy countries.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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News 17.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Sometime around the 12th century BCE, Troy fell to the Greeks. As the Roman poet Virgil recounts the story, the mythical hero Aeneas then fled his ravaged city aboard an uncooperative ship with a motley crew. The son of a goddess and a prince, he carried the ancestral burden of begetting a lineage of rulers in a foreign land. After many days at sea, Aeneas and his band disembarked on the shores of Latium (where many generations later, Rome would be founded). Exhausted and famished, they hastily prepared a meal. So hungry, the crew even ate their plates.

Admittedly, these plates would have been like trenchers, sturdy supports made of baked dough. When dry, they still posed a substantial dental challenge—akin to those ornaments made out of salt dough. In theory, they were edible, but eating your dishware was still considered uncouth. Aeneas looked on incredulously, as his men voraciously gnawed on their plates, like dogs with a rawhide bone, when suddenly he remembered the prophecy his father had foretold: When you find yourself in a foreign land and are so driven by hunger that you eat your own plates, that is when you can hope for home. They had found the “Promised Land.”

Tethering this myth to the origin of pizza is audacious to say the least, but some enterprising entrepreneurs have dared to do just that. Why go to such lengths? Pizza does have a long history in Italy, but its dominance on the international gastronomic stage hinges not on a glorious past rooted in antiquity so much as an anthropological phenomenon that has come to be known as the “pizza effect.”

This term was coined by anthropologist Agehananda Bharati in 1970. It captures the pattern that unfolds when an insignificant cultural item or practice is exported to another country, whereupon it achieves a level of success unheard of in the native country. The native country then looks on in befuddled amazement at the value placed on something they took for granted. The object in question is then reassessed and draped in romanticism. From the new perspective, a potentially lucrative tradition is born. The story of Italian pizza is the quintessential example of this phenomenon, but it reaches beyond food into all aspects of culture, from yoga to salsa music.

The word “pizza” appears in medieval Latin, but by the 16th century, throughout the Italian peninsula, the term referred mostly to rich, leavened breads. Often laden with butter and sweetened with dried fruit or compotes, they were not the flattened disks of dough topped with tomato sauce and cheese we’ve come to know (though most culinary traditions in Italy did have some form of focaccia or flatbreads). However, it wasn’t until the late 18th century that we see the first reference to pizza as an established object of trade, in a plea registered with the police by a pizzaiolo, or pizza maker, facing debtor’s prison.

Read the rest of this article at: Food 52

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.