Saturday 23 June 2018

The Ends of the World (2017)

Above, an incredible descriptive re-imagining of the enormous asteroid that ended the dominance of  the dinosaurs, from Peter Brannen's book The Ends of the World (HERE).

Friday 22 June 2018

Letters to A Young Poet (1903)

Leave to your opinions their own quiet undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be pressed or hurried by anything. Everything is gestation and then bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist’s life: in understanding as in creating.

By Rainer Maria Rilke

Coloring Sudokus (2018)

From the great Fronkonstin blog of experiments in the R language. By Antonio Sánchez Chinchón (HERE)

Saturday 16 June 2018

The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions (2017)

I hear a lot about Artificial Intelligence (AI) these days. Much of it is ill informed nonsense. This superb piece by Rodney Brooks (HERE) is required reading for anyone who really wants to get a realistic grasp on what AI may or may not do, anytime soon.

Are We All Joyceans Here, Then? (2018)

James Joyce's vast, and almost impossible to imagine reading, epic Ulysses, has been read by some people. This short piece (HERE) in the Paris Review by Frankie Thomas is her story of how she read it in a seminar group at City College, New York.    

Ulysses itself begins:

Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him on the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:

Introibo ad altare Dei.

Halted, he peered down the dark winding stairs and called out coarsely:

—Come up, Kinch! Come up, you fearful jesuit!

Friday 15 June 2018

The Whole Art of Storytelling (2014)

Michael Dirda is a Pultizer prize winningAmerican critic. His writing is superb - he describes it as often achieving a Shaker like simplicity - which is about right. On Conan Doyle Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling is a slim, very well written and made, book by Dirda on his love of the books of Conan Doyle. (HERE).  

How to spot a perfect fake (2018)

A very interesting piece in the Guardian by Samanth Subramanian about the current state-of-the-art in Old Master forgery and forensics. (HERE)   

Monday 11 June 2018

The Great Tidepool: the story of Ed Ricketts' scientific system (2014)

The Great Tidepool: the story of Ed Ricketts' scientific systemFrom a film of the same name by Steven and Mary Albert, here are a series of annotated diagrams that the filmmakers brought together from an analysis of Ed Ricketts' approach to ecological science. (HERE)

Wednesday 6 June 2018

The Last Launch (2015)

Encounters with Goodness.
Yi-Fu Tuan

I was in Panama in 1959 studying the coastline. I needed to go to a sandbar separated from the mainland by a stretch of mangrove swamp. I waited for the tide to withdraw, so I could walk across. Hours later, having competed my survey of the sandbar, I packed my notebooks, camera, and compass for the return trip. 

To my surprise, I was confronted by an unfamiliar landscape. A rising tide had covered the swamp in one-to-two feet of water, and I would have to wade through the water and mud to get back to solid land. 

As I reluctantly prepared myself to take on the tide, a young fisherman approached, pushing an old bike. On its handlebar was a row of fish, which he no doubt intended to sell on the mainland. He spoke a language I didn't understand. His gestures, however, made it clear that he wanted me to sit on his bike so that he could push me through the swamp. 

He had to push hard. I could see his strained muscles and smell his sweat. As soon as we reached dry land, I got off the bike and dug into my wallet for a few dollars to give him. I looked through the sheaf of bills to find the right amount. When I turned around, he was nowhere to be seen. I have never forgotten his kindness. He was doing good. 

From The Last Launch By Yi-Fu Tuan (HERE).

Sunday 3 June 2018

Étienne Léopold Trouvelot (1827-1895)

A piece on the French astronomical artist Étienne Léopold Trouvelot  (HERE)

Saturday 2 June 2018

...prose written with the kind of attention you expect from a fiction writer or poet (2014)

In the simplest sense, what one learns by writing poetry is to pay attention to every word and to the cadence of every sentence - the shape of things. A paragraph is made not unlike the way you make a stanza of a poem. Literary nonfiction is prose written with the kind of attention you expect from a fiction  writer or poet.

From Radcliffe Magazine 2014 profile of Lewis Hyde (HERE).

Friday 1 June 2018

The Gift

The Stones of Venice (1890

By John Ruskin. 

Image from HERE.