“There is no centre anymore. We live in a multipolar world, and culture reflects that." Fatima Bhutto
Posts tagged "history"
Not quite the way to the stars

Not quite the way to the stars

“O, it is excellent / To have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous / To use it like a giant.” Shakespeare certainly knew his Romans; even though the lines that capture so brilliantly – and devastatingly – the allure of power and its raw brutality come from Measure for Measure, they could well have...
From heaven to earth

From heaven to earth

One of the most striking characteristics of Socrates, as we know him from Plato, Plutarch, Xenophon, Cicero or Diogenes Laertius, and the numerous, yet exasperatingly fragmentary sources that survive, was his talent for convincing his interlocutors of his utter ignorance of any subject – his signature style was to present himself to the unwary as...
Mia Couto: Singular dualities

Mia Couto: Singular dualities

Mia Couto’s Woman of the Ashes is the first novel in a trilogy centred around the 1895 overthrow of southern Mozambique’s last emperor, Ngungunyane. As warring factions threaten to divide the country an unforeseen love affair unfolds between 15-year-old village girl Imani and exiled Portuguese sergeant Germano de Melo. Imani is torn between pragmatic service...
Laura Beatty: Insight and wonder

Laura Beatty: Insight and wonder

One comes away from meeting and talking with Laura Beatty with a combined sense of awe and the closest human affinity and immediacy. She possesses a formidable mind, a very composed and elegiac conversational style that one may only call a delicately poetic oral prose. The beginning of a thought or a sentence soon acquires...
New travels with myself and another

New travels with myself and another

Laura Beatty’s new book Lost Property, a nearly sublime hybrid between a novel and a philosophical essay, begins with an England in a state of utter crisis – social, humanitarian, political, cultural, a crisis of identity, values, place, purpose and meaning. Beatty’s heroine describes herself as tottering between being and non-being, reason and insanity. “At...
"I remember a macabre joke..."

“I remember a macabre joke…”

“The witnesses of the Holocaust are old and nearing death. The murder of 6m Jews… will soon be history, not memory… The new horror is that this Everest of evidence [that now exists on Nazi Germany and the Final Solution] may not be working as a warning,” wrote Bryan Appleyard on 20 January 2019 in...
Isabella Beeton and beating impostor syndrome

Isabella Beeton and beating impostor syndrome

Ah, impostor syndrome – pernicious underminer of talented people everywhere. No matter how brilliant your marks are, no matter what professional coups you pull off, deep down inside you believe all compliments are lies, and that you are only one mistake from being ‘found out’. Infuriatingly, it’s the talentless meatheads lacking an iota of charisma...
Blood and feathers

Blood and feathers

Early in Tommy Orange’s impressive debut novel There There, young aspiring filmmaker Dene Oxendene gives an oral presentation to a panel of judges considering his pet project for a grant. Laying out his vision for a documentary about the lives and culture of the modern-day Urban Indian (the term used for Native Americans living in...
Piercing prisms and Persian perspectives

Piercing prisms and Persian perspectives

“The truth of memory is strange, isn’t it? Our memories select, eliminate, exaggerate, minimize, glorify, denigrate. They create their own versions of events and serve up their own reality. Disparate but cohesive. Imperfect yet sincere.” Thus begins a compulsive, fiercely resisted, yet inevitable journey into memory in this in many ways extraordinary novel – the...
Teeth

Teeth

From vampires and tooth fairies to barber-surgeons and professional dentists, Wellcome Collection’s summer exhibition traces the evolution of our relationship with our teeth and what they say about us. Featuring over 150 objects from cartoons and caricatures to protective amulets, toothpaste advertisements and a range of chairs, drills and training tools, the exhibition charts the...