Prufrock: Chesterton’s Chair, HBO Hacked, and Soviet X-Ray Music

Reviews and News:

Chesterton’s chair: Where is it?

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X-ray music: From 1946 to 1964, people in Soviet Russia used X-rays “as makeshift records” to listen to the music they loved because most of it was forbidden.

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Italy is banning everything from selfie sticks to firecrackers and food trucks: “These are bans designed in part to deal with tourist overload, so they are often greeted with general nods of sympathetic approval: Even tourists hate tourists. But the regulations of selfie-sticks, fast food, and other irritants are in fact part of a larger nationwide struggle over the future of Italy’s urban centers—not just clamping down on trash and petty crime but also attempting to control who does and doesn’t have rights of access to key parts of the city.”

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Measuring ripples in space and time: “Long before homo sapiens was up on its hind legs, two black holes – each more massive than two dozen suns – were swirling around each other in outer space at a colossal rate. They merged with such violence that the very fabric of space and time shook, the ripples spreading out across the universe. A little more than a billion years later, in the early hours of 14 September 2015, some of those ripples were detected by scientists in the US. By any standards, this was a truly remarkable achievement. The astronomers had managed to identify a disturbance that had lasted only 20 milliseconds – much briefer than the blink of an eye – and was smaller than a millionth of the width of an atom. They had found the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, a feat likely to be rewarded soon with a Nobel prize.”

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Why everyone is going to Serbia’s brass-band festival? Simple: plum brandy, barbecued meat, and brass music.

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HBO hacked: “Hackers claimed to have obtained 1.5 terabytes of data from the company. So far, an upcoming episode of Ballers and Room 104 have apparently been put online. There is also written material that’s allegedly from next week’s fourth episode of Game of Thrones. More is promised to be ‘coming soon.’”

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University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop accused of age discrimination: “Thomson…maintains that application statistics collected by the university show that, over the past five years, none of the 105 applicants age 51 or older were accepted into the workshop’s fiction program. Nearly half of the 135 fiction students accepted from 2013 to 2017 were between the ages of 18 and 25.”

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North Koreans risk lives in United Nations art show: “In a stunning act of courage and defiance, four young North Korean artists are risking their safety by participating in a new exhibit at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan this week.”

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Essay of the Day:

In Aeon, Maria Michela Sassi examines how the ancient Greeks saw color and what this tells us about their world:

“Goethe considered the Newtonian theory to be a mathematical abstraction in contrast with the testimony of the eyes, and thus downright absurd. In fact, he claimed that light is the most simple and homogeneous substance, and the variety of colours arise at the edges where dark and light meet. Goethe set the Greeks’ approach to colour against Newton’s for their having caught the subjective side of colour perception. The Greeks already knew, Goethe wrote, that: ‘If the eye were not Sun-like, it could never see the Sun.’

“Another explanation for the apparent oddness of Greek perception came from the eminent politician and Hellenist William Gladstone, who devoted a chapter of his Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age (1858) to ‘perceptions and use of colour’. He too noticed the vagueness of the green and blue designations in Homer, as well as the absence of words covering the centre of the ‘blue’ area. Where Gladstone differed was in taking as normative the Newtonian list of colours (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). He interpreted the Greeks’ supposed linguistic poverty as deriving from an imperfect discrimination of prismatic colours. The visual organ of the ancients was still in its infancy, hence their strong sensitivity to light rather than hue, and the related inability to clearly distinguish one hue from another. This argument fit well with the post-Darwinian climate of the late 19th century, and came to be widely believed. Indeed, it prompted Nietzsche’s own judgment, and led to a series of investigations that sought to prove that the Greek chromatic categories do not fit in with modern taxonomies.

“Today, no one thinks that there has been a stage in the history of humanity when some colours were ‘not yet’ being perceived. But thanks to our modern ‘anthropological gaze’ it is accepted that every culture has its own way of naming and categorising colours. This is not due to varying anatomical structures of the human eye, but to the fact that different ocular areas are stimulated, which triggers different emotional responses, all according to different cultural contexts.

“So was Goethe right that the Greek experience of colours is quite peculiar? Yes, he was. There is a specific Greek chromatic culture, just as there is an Egyptian one, an Indian one, a European one, and the like, each of them being reflected in a vocabulary that has its own peculiarity, and not to be measured only by the scientific meter of the Newtonian paradigm. The question then is: how can we hope to understand how the Greeks saw their world?”

Read the rest.

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Photo: Tuscany

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Poem: J. D. McClatchy, “The Golden Floor”

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This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard

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