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Bresson and the Elliptical Economies of a Master Filmmaker

J. Hoberman at the New York Times: Originally a painter, Bresson was a proponent of pure cinema, something he elaborates throughout “Bresson on Bresson.” Interviewed during the making of “Pickpocket,” he asserted his desire “to make a film of hands, glances, objects, refusing everything that is theatrical.” To that he later added: “More and more in my films, I’m trying to suppress what people call plot.

Nabokov and Edmund Wilson: the feud

Tyler Malone at the LA Times: Novelist Vladimir Nabokov is not only one of the midcentury masters of prose but also, arguably, our greatest literary cartographer.

Is physics turning into biology?

Ashutosh Jogalekar in The Curious Wavefunction: Physics, unlike biology or geology, was not considered to be a historical science until now.

Why sexual desire is objectifying – and hence morally wrong

Raja Halwani in Aeon: The 18th-century philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that human beings tend to be evil.

Ravi Shavi's amazingly good new song: "Hot"

Video length: 2:49

'A Christmas Carol' takes greater pleasure in Scrooge’s ghostly visions than in his redemption

Colm Tóibín at The Guardian: Part of the power of the book comes from the grim, unearthly picture it draws of London.

Empire of Tolerance

Simon Winchester in The New York Times: It was in an earlier best-selling volume that Weatherford persuasively argued that the 25-year blitzkrieg mounted by Genghis and his cavalries — who, in “the most extensive war in world history” beginning in 1206, swept mercilessly and unstoppably over the Altai Mountains to their west and the Gobi Desert to their south — brought civilization, fairness, meritocracy and avuncular kindliness to legions of undeserving satrapies across Eurasia.


Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler in The New Yorker: In 2003, we reviewed “Moneyball,” Michael Lewis’s book about Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s.’s capture of the know-it-all demographic

David V. Johnson in The Baffler: Future historians may well mark the date of April 6, 2014, as a watershed moment in the media’s epic bid to redefine itself in the digital age.

Manufacturing Normality

CJ Hopkins in CounterPunch: Sometime circa mid-November, in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s defeat (i.e., the beginning of the end of democracy), the self-appointed Guardians of Reality, better known as the corporate media, launched a worldwide marketing campaign against the evil and perfidious scourge of “fake news.” This campaign is now at a fever pitch.

Philip Clayton - How Can Emergence Explain Reality?

Video length: 13:25

Could You Solve This $1 Million Hat Trick?

John Allen Paulos at ABC News: Here's the situation. Three people enter a room sequentially and a red or a blue hat is placed on each of their heads depending upon whether a coin lands heads or tails.

'Toussaint Louverture: A Revolutionary Life' by Philippe Girard

Joshua Alvarez at Bookforum: In 1840, soon after Napoleon Bonaparte's spectacular rise and fall, the always-provocative Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle declared, "The History of the world is but the Biography of great men": Individual heroes who changed the world through sheer willpower, charisma, or exceptional virtue.

at the venice biennale

Jeff Seroy at The Paris Review: A woman in housedress and slippers, scarf wound round her head, stands on a ladder staring at the desert.

The Last Unknown Man

Matt Wolfe at The New Republic: Early one summer morning, Son Yo Auer, a Burger King employee in Richmond Hill, Georgia, found a naked man lying unconscious in front of the restaurant’s dumpsters.

The Last American Hero?

Dale Butland in The New York Times: Columbus, Ohio — World War II and Korean War hero. First American to orbit the Earth.

Friday Poem

Tanka Diary (Awakened too early on Saturday morning) Awakened too early on Saturday morning by the song of a mockingbird imitating my clock radio alarm.                                                                         * Walking along the green path with buds in my ears, too engrossed in the morning news to listen to the stillness of the garden.

Could You Solve This $1 Million Hat Trick?

John Allen Paulos at ABC News: Here's the situation. Three people enter a room sequentially and a red or a blue hat is placed on each of their heads depending upon whether a coin lands heads or tails.

America's avalanche of unnecessary medical care

Atul Gawande in The New Yorker: It was lunchtime before my afternoon surgery clinic, which meant that I was at my desk, eating a ham-and-cheese sandwich and clicking through medical articles.

Review: ‘Against Empathy,’ or the Right Way to Feel Someone’s Pain

Jennifer Senior in the New York Times: Paul Bloom’s new book, “Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion,” is too highbrow to be a self-help or parenting manual, but parts of it could be.