Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What I’m reading

Chad Taylor muses on books, fashion and death.

Matt Nolan, an economist, muses about love, marriage, “good enough” and the theory of the firm.

Pascal Bruckner muses on the fashion for apocalyptic thinking:
What is surprising is that the mood of catastrophe prevails especially in the West, as if it were particular to privileged peoples.
It wouldn’t be surprising to anyone who has read Norman Cohn’s great The Pursuit of the Millennium: revolutionary millenarians and mystical anarchists of the Middle Ages, which is one of the best books I have ever read.

That’s enough musing. Paul Litterick sentence of the month:
Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the wankiest of them all: Sting or the people who write about him on Wikipedia?
Stuff informs us that men are dumber around women and illustrates the story with a pic of George Clooney.

English writer Terence Blacker looks forward to the Olympics. As Mona Lott used to say, it’s being so cheerful as keeps him going.

Chris Bell, who is both author and techsmart, generously shares his knowledge about publishing e-books. There are people who charge for this stuff, and Chris is better.

Brilliant cartoon from XKCD showing real lakes and ocean depths. Fascinating, and worth exploring for the hidden jokes and for the “Russians are awesome” line about the Kola borehole.   

Brian Sewell is an English art critic of a certain age and a certain disposition. My painter friends will be horrified by my confession that I have always enjoyed his writing. I did know that he spoke in the most affected accent ever, one that makes the Queen sound common, but had no means of sharing this. Until now. Don’t miss the second page. Click fast enough on different links and you get a wonderful sequence that makes as much sense as most contemporary art criticism. Try his “Liverpool” and “Hungarian art”. Then “White eunuch” and “Sliced cucumber”, in that order. 

Finally, a writer’s worst nightmare: English author and Private Eye journalist  Francis Wheen has lost his library of 5000 books, his CDs, his old vinyl, letters from friends such as Christopher Hitchens and his work in progress, the novel he has been writing for the last year, all because his shed blew up. He was laid low last year with a bad back so this piles Pelion on Ossa (Virgil has it the other way round [at 276])  but Wheen is philosophical about it:
Now, in the absence of books or records to entertain himself, he would simply “sit in the lotus position and contemplate the four noble truths”.
Despite apparently remaining upbeat, Mr Wheen, 55, admitted that the past few months had been difficult. He is currently suffering from spinal problems and was laid low with a “ghastly virus” on Saturday which left him “throwing up all over the place”.
“I’m going to read the Book of Job to find out what happens next,” he said. “Is it the plague of locusts? Or will I have my camels and oxen taken from me?”
I won’t quote from his Facebook page because we all know how private FB is, but his responses to condolences from friends and strangers have been lovely. Grace under pressure, in extremis. You can hear him talk about it all here on BBC4. On a more positive note he is also in the Guardian being amusing about modern delusions.


Paul said...

I am, of course, very flattered you should mention me, again. But I am delighted that you should mention my fellow Courtauld graduate, Brian Sewell; a marvellous man.

Stephen Stratford said...

You don't sound like him. Why is this?

Anita Brookner was a Courtauld graduate too. You people are everywhere.