Feb. 28th, 2017

"The Emperor’s New Museum" / Jiayang Fan
__ The first of them, the Xujiahui Museum, was founded in 1868, by a French Jesuit priest and zoologist who combined his missionary work with collecting animal and plant specimens from the Yangtze Delta. Once missionaries realized that exhibiting the wonders of the natural world made the local population more enthusiastic about Christianity, similar museums followed. It was in such museums that the Chinese public first encountered maps, and saw China as a physically demarcated territory, rather than as the entire world, as many had supposed it to be.

"The Cinematic Traumas of Kenneth Lonergan" / Rebecca Mead
__ character—of how people metabolize an experience in different ways
__ You have to go back to Hopkins. You have to think of the mysteries that Hopkins is grappling with: that growth and maturity is desirable, but it leaves devastation in the wake of its progress. It is not purely and simply the fulfillment of a plan; it also leaves a path of destruction, and it destroys the thing that it transforms.

"Fox News, a Melodrama" / Emily Nussbaum
__ The TV critic Todd VanDerWerff once compared the Fox format to ABC’s “Lost”: you need to immerse yourself entirely to grok the breadth of its world-building paranoias and mythologies.
__ (Megyn Kelly)’s got the advantage of the ultra-beautiful: she is gorgeous enough so that sexist insults rebound off her as envy.

"The Case Against Democracy" / Caleb Crain
__ (In fact, in Mill’s day, select universities had had their own constituencies for centuries, allowing someone with a degree from, say, Oxford to vote both in his university constituency and wherever he lived. The system wasn’t abolished until 1950.)

"Red Neighbor, Blue Neighbor" / Joshua Rothman

  • As election day approached, life in the village seemed to have divided into two streams—a neighborly stream, which ran pure and clear, and a political stream, which was muddied and turbulent.
  • Politics, Rosenblum points out, hinges on abstractions. To participate in political life, one must adopt an abstract identity (“progressive,” “conservative”) and stand up for abstract ideas (“equality,” “liberty,” “American exceptionalism”). We tend to justify our political positions by citing airy principles: the separation of church and state, the efficiency of the market. Neighborhood life, by contrast, is practical and concrete. When our neighbors approach us on the sidewalk, they do so as idiosyncratic individuals, rather than as embodiments of sociopolitical categories. The quality of neighborly life hinges not on abstractions but on actions... The essence of neighborliness, she finds, is reciprocity: one good turn for another. And yet neighbors, unlike friends, don’t always share tastes and interests, and so end up trading unlike goods.
  • All the same, it’s tempting to see this kind of neighborliness as a potential cure for our political ills. Call it the unified theory of democratic life: good neighbors make for good citizens, and vice versa.
  • As individuals, she writes, “we are many-sided, if not protean, personalities,” and we each inhabit many “differentiated spheres with their own identifiable norms and institutions.” We are, simultaneously, citizens, workers, neighbors, parents, lovers, and souls; in each of these spheres, we observe and uphold different rules and values. Sometimes these values are in conflict with one another. But “preservation of multiple spheres is the great promise and charge of liberal democracy,” Rosenblum maintains.
  • This nebulous give-and-take contributes to “the delicacy of neighbor relations.” So does the fact that neighbors stick around. We may encounter our neighbors in spontaneous situations, but we can’t react to them spontaneously.

"A Failing State" / William Finnegan
__ Polar.. actually stands out among big Venezuelan enterprises for its record of careful abstention from politics. But having survived seventeen years of Chavismo - and innumerable threats of expropriation, as the government seized more than a thousand factories and farms - is itself a potent political statement.

"Desert Bloom" / Alex Ross
__ The flowers were especially thick along the shoulders of the roads, since runoff soaks the ground on either side. They seemed to greet you as you went by, like bystanders cheering a parade - or, perhaps, like protesters silently resisting the incursion of asphalt.
__ Norment thinks so. "We need their beauty and otherness, their delicate and fragile strength.. We need the refugee species, the discards that ask for nothing more than the home that each and every one of us desires."
__ John McPhee "It is a soundless immensity with mountains in it."


"Chris Kraus, Female Antihero" / Elaine Blair
__ Until recently, a comic female antihero was nearly inconceivable. There’s nothing funny about failing if you’ve been overwhelmingly obstructed by sexism and social conventions. If you want to make people laugh, you really have to fail on your own merits. The comedy of “I Love Dick” shows us an overlooked milestone. Somewhere between second-class status and full equality, there is a point at which women are expected to make their own way in the world, as men do. How can we tell that we’ve passed this milestone? It’s not by the presence of a few successful women like, say, Nan Goldin, but by the widespread feelings of inadequacy, envy, and anxiety that a success like Goldin’s inspires in her peers like Chris. This is existential freedom, and this is where the female antihero comes in.

"The Tough Guy" / Adrian Chen
__ In 1965, Ferdinand Marcos, a young provincial senator, won the Presidency of the Philippines with the pledge "This nation can be great again."
__ One Davao Death Squad said that the police had established a bidding process to choose among various cells of hit men. "If several cells want the job, they would discuss which cell can do it better," he said.


"Cold Remedy" / Nicola Twilley
__ One nurse wanted to know how the team would be paged, by whom, and when; the protocol requires specially trained medics to materialize from various hospital departments within minutes, as the potential candidate flatlines. Another pointed to a risk that the entire unit might flood, given that the patient would leak not only every last drop of blood but also a potentially limitless amount of salt water.

"The Factory of Fakes" / Daniel Zalewski
__ Perfecting the digital printout, he told me, had involved hundreds of hours of analog assessment: thousand of paint samples were mixed by hand, in Luxor, to match the tones in the original tomb, then compared with ink-jet outputs.
__ "With current technology, subtracting is better than adding," he said.
__ "Caravaggio has a relatively limited palette, and so the reds - from the work we did in San Luigi dei Francesi, we have exact color matching."


"The Teacher" / James Wood
__ The story of social class in Britain is, figuratively, one of emigration and immigration: a voyaging out of one station or place and into another.



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