Tom borrowed more The New Yorker magazines for free from our lovely local library. Here are the articles I recommend: I’ll leave it up to you find the online links.
December 6, 2021 Issue
“Electricity and the Body” by Jerome Groopman
. The article begins with Groopman’s account—he and his wife are doctors—of his frightening tachycardia episode that nearly killed him. The article goes on to discuss the medicinal use of electricity throughout history. The ancients observed that the stone amber could transmit electricity (I call it “the amber” in my Arachne Trilogy) and believed wearing an amber necklace, men and women, would protect the wearer from all kinds of diseases. Then there were “electrical belts” in Victorian times, worn by men to give them “sexual vitality”. There is electroshock therapy, used today (more safely) to alleviate severe suicidal depression. A fascinating article recommended for serious readers.
November 29, 2021 Issue
“Pompeii’s Hidden Layer” by Rebecca Mead.
The author’s recent visit to the archeological site (four million visitors a year go there) is the preface to an account of historical efforts to excavate the ruins, which were discovered by monks drilling a water well in the 1700s. The fabulous, doomed city was buried under eighty feet of ash from the disastrous massive eruption of the volcano, Mt. Vesuvius. Only 30% or so of the ruins have been excavated, which activities were very dangerous—the overlying ash could collapse, destroying the ruins below—and trapped volcanic gases were still deadly. What treasures awaited the excavators, though—the colors on the murals and the floors were still as vibrant as they were two thousand years ago. Highly recommended. (I want to go visit! Over Christmas weekend, we saw the movie, “Pompeii”, which was very enjoyable (but derivative of “Gladiator”.)
“The Garden of Forking Paths” by Nicola Twilley. A maze-maker and his mazes, with color photographs. Recommended.
“The Decoders of the Rosetta Stone” by Jean Acocella. The Rosetta Stone is the key to decoding Egyptian hieroglyphs (which no one understood for centuries) and two other ancient languages, carved by some genius in Greece. Like the ruins of Pompeii, the Stone was discovered by accident, and it took a while from linguists to decode it. Recommended.
April 12, 2021 Issue
There’s an article about the artist, Helen Frankenthaler, in this issue but I don’t want to go into it—I will be too sarcastic and I don’t want to do that about another woman artist.
There’s an article, “The Zeitgeist of Midnight Cowboy” by Louis Menard. Reviewing the book “Shooting ‘Midnight Cowboy” by Glenn Frankel which was also reviewed in The Times Literary Supplement. To Hollywood’s surprise, the film won the Oscar for Best Picture and nominated for more categories. There’s some controversy about the film, which Tom and I possess (thanks to a neighbor) in a Director’s Cut. I recommend seeing the Director’s Cut for the additional fifteen minutes of Joe Buck’s previous life after he embarks on his quest to New York City. I don’t want to get into the controversies. You can look up the articles, on both sides of the Atlantic, for yourself. Suffice it to say, I find it a moving film of friendship in a cold, lonely megacity, and I always cry at the end.
November 6, 2021 Issue
“What a Feeling: How to Have More Energy” by Nick Paumgarten.
The author begins this article by describing he’s having “brownouts” on afternoons working at home during the pandemic. And further goes to say politicians, writers, artists, and entrepreneurs “regardless of talent” have huge success with “high energy.” (Hmm, I know persons who have that.) He goes on to discuss the issue of energy—how you can get more or, if you can’t, how to cope. Check it out.
November 15, 2021 Issue
“Towering Infernos: Life on the front line of megafires” by M. R. O’Conner
. This fascinating look particularly on megafires, how much more dangerous they are—they send massive smoke plumes so high up in the atmosphere that the force of the smoke interferes with jet airplanes. The article focuses on the firefighters—one firefighter, who served nine tours of duty in Iraq, remarked on being in a war zone was not nearly as dangerous on the fireline of a megafire. Many firefighters suffer PTSS, many of them commit suicide. This is may have been publicity for the subsequent federal legislation benefiting the firefighting effort (raising the firefighters’ low wages, for example) but I’m a Californian and I support it.
Finally, “Kandinsky at the Guggenheim” by Peter Schjeldahl about the show at the museum. With a full-color illustration of one of Kandinsky’s paintings. I like some of his paintings, others not (they’re sloppy and not planned well enough).
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