michael Fried on David Smith


FOR YEARS—decades, really—when encountering a sculpture by David Smith in a museum or an art gallery, I’ve looked at it long and hard, from up close and far away. I’ve walked all around it and peered at it from every point of view; and then, if it was a piece I found compelling (and no one was watching), I made a loose fist with my right hand and lightly rapped the sculpture in order to hear—I almost wrote “see”—how it sounded. Only then do I ever feel that I know a work by Smith, whatever else knowing it might be taken to mean. So imagine my satisfaction when I read Michael Brenson’s essay “The Fields” in a catalogue accompanying the artist’s recent retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, in which Smith’s daughter Candida is quoted recalling her experience visiting the scores of sculptures Smith had placed in the fields adjacent to his house and studio at Bolton Landing in upstate New York: “My father encouraged my sister and me to run among the sculptures,” she remembers, “to climb, to put our heads into the elements of the sculptures, to bang out tuneless rhythms and hear the difference between the sound of flat and volumetric elements.”

more from Artforum here.

rothko the writer


IN 1978, THE PAINTER Philip Guston warned that if artists did not speak in public, they ran the risk of being reduced to “painting monkeys.” If, on the other hand, they did speak, their words were generally not to be trusted. The only truth, according to Guston, was in their candid remarks.

His prime example was Mark Rothko. After a visit to Guston’s Manhattan studio in 1957, Rothko had told him, “Phil, you’re the best storyteller around, and I’m the best organ player.” Admitting that after more than 20 years the meaning of the comment was still not entirely clear-was Rothko saying that his pure tones were like the awe-inspiring chords of a church organ?-Guston nevertheless preferred it to the “words like noble and sublime” that had been used to embalm or explain away the mesmerizing bands of color that characterize Rothko’s mature work.

more from Boston Globe Ideas here.

elmore leonard and Mack’s rules


In 1954, three years after a youthful Elmore Leonard tentatively began his writing career, John Steinbeck published the novel Sweet Thursday. In its prologue, the literate layabout Mack sets out the criteria for what he considers to be an appropriate narrative style: “I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks. And another thing – I kind of like to figure out what the guy’s thinking by what he says”.

For Mack, this was mere casual criticism: descriptive passages (“what color a thing is, how it smells and maybe how it looks, and maybe how a guy feels about it”) were acceptable, as long as there was “not too much of that”. But for Leonard, Steinbeck had set out a philosophy that was to provide the guiding principles for his subsequent career. When Leonard came to put down his renowned ten rules for writing fiction, he ensured that they were Mack-compatible. The result was a literary manifesto that acted as a heartening overstatement of the need for understatement: “don’t go into great detail describing places and things”; “show rather than tell what’s taking place in the story”; “try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip”, and so on. “If it sounds like writing”, concluded Leonard, “I rewrite it.”

more from the TLS here.

Updike Discusses Modernity, Terrorism and Sex

It’s not just Hitchens who’s talking about modernity, terrorism and fellatios these days. In Nerve.com, an interview with John Updike on the same.

Updike’s latest novel, Terrorist, continues his habit of writing from a controversial perspective — in this case, an angry young Muslim named Ahmad whose imam in New Jersey has commissioned him to bomb the Lincoln Tunnel. The ire that Terrorist has drawn is similar to some of the complaints about his previous books, except that today, everyone — not just professional critics — has a platform on the internet. “Updike’s latest is nothing more than a self-hating American on his knees,” commented one reader on Amazon.com. “You sense that Updike hates the modern world, despite having contributed to its supposed malaise with his own envelope-pushing sexual novels . . . “

Now seventy-four, Updike spoke to Nerve about this perceived discomfort with modernity, and offered his views on marriage, AIDS and genital worship.

Aula 2006 ─ Movement: Report upon returning from Helsinki

NOTE: All posts at 3QD related to the Aula 2006 ─ Movement event, including this one, will be collected on this page.

Morgan and I returned from Helsinki last night after a wonderfully stimulating meeting with a group of amazingly sharp and innovative thinkers. There is really no quick way to characterize the subject of the meeting because there were presentations and talks on an incredibly diverse array of subjects, ranging from Donatella della Ratta speaking about the effects of new media in the Arab world, to Adam Greenfield speaking about Ubiquitous Computing, to Saul Griffith of MIT and Squid Labs, who as part of a brilliant talk, and among much else, showed us how to fashion a perfectly wearable bra out of a pair of men’s briefs!

Due to logistical and other difficulties, we were unable to blog the event live as we had planned, but luckily there are already a number of good summaries available of what went on (more on that below). After the keynote speeches on Wednesday evening (a summary by Teemu Arina is available here, and one by Bruno Guissani here), we had a full day of quick, rapid-fire, eight-minute presentations at a most beautiful island boathouse all day Thursday: [Mogan and I and others arrive on the island by boat. Photo by Timo Arnall.]


The morning started with a well-known Finnish yoga instructor named Kylli Kukk (who later showed Morgan and me some nice places in Helsinki, and gave us a lovely tour of her studio along with a free yoga lesson and DVD!) leading a short outdoor program of rather invigorating excercise. Those of you who know of my general aversion to exercise may think I have manipulated the following photo, but, really, I haven’t: [Kylli is in the pink top. I, of course, am the idiot wearing a tie. Photo by Timo Arnall.]


Afterwards, there was coffee and refreshments, and then the meeting started in the very beautiful circular boathouse. Notice that the “beach” is a solid sheet of rock descending into the water: [I am carrying on a mini-conference on subcontinental couture with Aditya Dev Sood. Photo by Timo Arnall.]


Marko Ahtisaari performed the introductions, and then the presentations started. Bruno Guissani has done a brilliant job of summarizing all the short talks here. Ross Mayfield has some thoughts here. And Adam Greenfield’s impressions of the meeting can be seen here. The day was punctuated by several breaks and a lovely lunch in the boathouse: [Marko opens the meeting. Photo by Timo Arnall.]


I spoke about 3 Quarks Daily’s conception and development, along with the contrasts between the different approaches to intellectual life, of the blogosphere and more traditional venues of inquiry such as peer-reviewed, edited professional journals: [Photo by Arabella.]


The ideas we were exposed to at this meeting will be making frequent appearances here at 3 Quarks over the next days and weeks. We met so many wonderful people and had so many great conversations and developed so many new friendships that it’s hard to know where to begin thanking everyone for making this such a great experience for us. Still, I’ll try: thanks much to all the participants, but particularly to danah boyd, Cory Doctorow, Dan Gillmore, Bruno Guissani, Adam Greenfield, Jim Griffin, Saul Griffith, Dan Hill, Joi Ito, Nurri Kim, Kylli Kukk, Ross Mayfield, Ulla-Maaria Mutanen, Arwen O’Reilly, Joshua Ramo, Donatella della Ratta, Clay Shirky, Aditya Dev Sood, Lisa Sounio, Gerfried Stocker, Alice Taylor, Matt Webb, and Satoshi Yamawaki.

Special thanks go to Marko Ahtisaari and Jyri Engestrom for arranging such an enjoyable event, and, of course, for inviting us to take part in it. Thanks to Ram Manikkalingam for giving us the benefit of his inimitably witty presence during our last two days in Helsinki. Thanks to Morgan for coming with me and providing some real intellectual substance on behalf of 3QD. And last, and definitely most thanks, to Andreea Chelaru and her band of “happy helpers” (including Darren, Fred, Veera, and Arabella) who not only took care of our every need, but provided charming and vivacious company throughout our stay, to boot. We are completely in love with you, Andreea! And here they are:


P.S. After the meeting ended, we took the boat back to Helsinki and the Klaus K hotel. We then had an option to take a lesson in Finnish tango before heading over to dinner at the Cable Factory, but, of course, Morgan had different ideas:


A Profile of the Poet Kevin Young

In Ploughshares, a profile of the poet Kevin Young.


Young was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1970, but moved with his family several times before they settled in Topeka, Kansas, where he remained until college. A lesser individual might consider this an inauspicious beginning, but far from decrying his Midwestern background, Young asserts, “I think there’s a lot of interesting history regarding Kansas, both its history as a state and being a free state, and also just in general its cultural history—Langston Hughes grew up in Kansas, in part, and Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka. There’s this connection I feel to the black folks who live there.” Young was turned on to poetry in his early teens by a creative writing teacher, whom he still calls a friend. “We all had to write a poem, and he sort of anonymously picked mine. And then I just couldn’t be stopped; I just kept writing them,” Young says. That initial precociousness would come to define his career. Since then, he’s led a kind of charmed existence, studying with Seamus Heaney and Lucie Brock-Broido at Harvard University, being awarded a Stegner Fellowship directly out of college, and then going on to earn his M.F.A. at Brown University. While still at Harvard, he also became a member of the Dark Room Collective, an influential group of young African-American writers in Boston who hosted readings and dedicated themselves to advancing the work of their members. To date, Young has published four collections of poetry, with two more on the way, and edited three anthologies. A fourth anthology is due out soon aswell. Young’s first collection, Most Way Home, was selected by Lucille Clifton for the National Poetry Series, and later won Ploughshares’s John C. Zacharis First Book Award, achievements all the more remarkable considering the bulk of it was written while he was still an undergraduate. He’s won numerous other honors for his writing, including the Paterson Poetry Prize and a Guggenheim fellowship, and he’s been named a finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the James Laughlin Award, and the National Book Award. Since his third book, his publisher has been Knopf, the most prestigious house in the country. All by the ripe age of thirty-five.

Rare “Rainbow” Spotted Over Idaho

From The National Geographic:Rainbow_1

It looks like a rainbow that’s been set on fire, but this phenomenon is as cold as ice.

Known in the weather world as a circumhorizontal arc, this rare sight was caught on film on June 3 as it hung over northern Idaho near the Washington State border.

The arc isn’t a rainbow in the traditional sense—it is caused by light passing through wispy, high-altitude cirrus clouds. The sight occurs only when the sun is very high in the sky (more than 58° above the horizon). What’s more, the hexagonal ice crystals that make up cirrus clouds must be shaped like thick plates with their faces parallel to the ground.

More here.

All the Presidente’s Men

From The Washington Post:Fuentes_1

Every six years, a Mexican president’s term comes to an end, and Mexicans turn their eyes, uneasily and even fearfully, toward the ritual of a new president’s selection and ascension to the “Eagle’s Throne.” Officially, this has always been decided by national election, even during the 70 years when the Party of the Institutionalized Revolution held power and the only “election” that mattered was the furtive process by which the outgoing president chose his successor. Even now, as President Vicente Fox concludes his term and candidates from three different parties have a legitimate chance to win the election in July, many Mexicans still believe that the real process is happening out of sight — “in the shadows,” as Carlos Fuentes writes, “where real power is wielded.”

More here.

Modern lifestyles are bad for fertility

From Nature:Fertile

A combination of stress, dieting and exercise can dramatically affect female fertility, research on monkeys suggests. Although stress is known to reduce fertility, researchers now warn that if a woman is also dieting and exercising, the effect could be many times greater. In stressed women, increased levels of a hormone called cortisol block the signal from the brain that tells the ovaries to release eggs, explain Sarah Berga and her colleagues at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.

In severe cases, a woman can stop producing eggs altogether and have her periods cease — a condition called amenorrhoea. About 5-10% of women suffer from amenorrhoea and Berga has previously found that giving such women behavioural therapy to control stress levels can help restore periods and fertility, without the need for specific fertility treatment.

More here.

Benjamin’s Footsteps

Michael D. Jackson reflects on the life of Walter Benjamin, while tracing his footsteps, in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin.

[I]f I had been able to choose, from Benjamin’s work, an epitaph, it would have been the lines that preface the eighth thesis: “The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule.” For as I sat there, my journey at an end, I was thinking how, as Benjamin observed so often, the presence of the now (jetzheit), makes it inevitable that thoughts of any one tragic death give rise to thoughts of all wrongful death. And so I thought of the nameless individuals who at that very moment were held in limbo and incommunicado, stripped of their rights, subject to torture or the degradation of interminable waiting, in places as far afield as Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, and the numerous “immigration camps” and “detention centers” around the world where asylum-seekers, driven from their homelands by persecution or want, were excluded not only from the protection of our laws, but ostracized from our definition of humanity.

For a moment, as I gazed at the boulder, and the plaque bearing Walter Benjamin’s name, I was fighting back tears. Then, bending down, I took a white stone from the path and placed it on the boulder, taking superstitious care not to dislodge any of the others that had been put there—possibly 50, possibly 100—one for each of the pilgrims who had found his or her way to this place, half-hoping, perhaps, for a moment of truth, or even a sign of redemption. I then broke off a leaf from the small variegated coprosma bush growing by the boulder, and put it in my wallet.

Why was I so moved by this place? Cemeteries are for families. The living come to cemeteries to reconnect with kith and kin, to keep alive—with flowers, prayers, thoughts, and the small rituals of cleaning or tending a grave—the presence of those who have passed away. But what kinship brought me here? What affinity drew me to Benjamin?

Utopias, Dustbins of History and The Blogosphere

In The New Republic, Christine Rosen on Glenn Reynolds and the blogosphere.

There’s one place, at least, where this unstoppable phenomenon may indeed quickly triumph. It’s precisely the area where Reynolds now toils: media. Reynolds would argue that he is a proponent of what his fellow blogger Jim Treacher calls “we-dia,” journalism practiced by the technologically empowered, amateur masses. Reynolds writes, “Millions of Americans who were once in awe of the punditocracy now realize that anyone can do this stuff–and that many unknowns can do it better than the lords of the profession.” As Reynolds argues with unrestrained glee, Big Media is in retreat. And, if circulation numbers and share prices are reliable indicators, he’s clearly right. To survive, he writes, the news media must embrace the citizen-journalist ethos of the blogosphere. Blogger dispatches and digital photos from readers, he claims, will provide coverage as rich and more thorough than that of Elisabeth Bumiller and John F. Burns, for example. Those who don’t adapt, Reynolds warns, may “wind up being replaced by those who do.”

But what would we-dia actually look like? This is a question that can be easily answered by InstaPundit. Reynolds’s blog consists largely of links to news or opinion articles and other blogs followed by comments consisting of such profound observations as “Heh,” or “Read the whole thing,” or “Indeed.” (These are recurring tropes whose centrality can’t be exaggerated.) What Reynolds lacks in analysis, he makes up for in abundance of content. On any given day, he’ll provide his readers nearly 20 entries–or, if you can stomach it, more.

The blogosphere doesn’t universally suffer from this extreme case of logorrhea or vacuity. (Nor are newspaper columnists immune from the latter syndrome.) It contains plenty of experts and thoughtful analysts who excel at precisely the analysis that is hardly the forte of newspaper reporters and eludes old-fashioned pundits. But Reynolds exposes how the blogosphere, at its worst, values timeliness over thought.

Monkeys, Meteorology and Cognition

In Scientific American:

Gray-cheeked mangabey monkeys rely on recent trends in temperature and solar radiation to forage for figs and insect larvae, report Karline Janmaat and her colleagues of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. The results support a lesser-studied notion that primate cognition evolved to solve problems rooted in ecology–such as foraging–instead of the more favored viewpoint, that cognition evolved as a way to cope within a complex society…

[Researchers] found that if the weather had been warm and sunny–as opposed to cool and cloudy–for a period of about five days, the monkeys were more likely to revisit a fruiting tree. “During the rainy season, the fruit takes really long to ripen–up to two months before they are finally ripe,” Janmaat says. “In some periods when it’s sunny, it can be in one week. There are big variations. Maybe it’s worthwhile for the monkeys to know that.”

Can Napster Help Create Social Solidarities?

In an upcoming issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, Marcus Giesler argues that peer-to-peer file-sharing systems such as Lime Wire, Napster and Acquisition have much in common with gift giving, and like gift-giving creates social solidarities, but unlike it, is not restricted to dyadic relationships. An earlier version of the paper can be found here.

Although originally conceptualized in classic anthropological and sociological studies as a fundamental social system (e.g., Mauss [1925] 1990), gift giving in the consumer literature has been traditionally conceived of as an aggregate of dyadic gift exchange rituals…As a consequence, some of the most important sociological dimensions of consumer gift giving have remained unexplored.

To redress this key theoretical oversight, I develop the notion of consumer gift system, a system of social solidarity based on a structured set of gift exchange and social relationships among consumers. The empirical context of my study is the Napster music file-sharing network. I use five years of netnographic data to show how Napster’s consumer gift system transcends the dyadic structures, and the motivations and actions of individual gifting partners that were the focus of prior consumer research on gift giving.

An Interview with Paul Berman

In Democratiya, Alan Johnson interviews Paul Berman on his personal and intellectual development, Terror and Liberbalism, Bush and the Iraq war, and more. On the Iraq war:

A better intervention was unquestionably possible. Before the war I was arguing to continue in the path of the Kosovo intervention: marshalling the right arguments, doing the diplomacy, assembling the right allies, making adequate plans, recognising what sort of occupation was going to be necessary. Kosovo was not brilliant by any means, but neither was it a total catastrophe. I made those arguments as an observer reading the newspapers. Now we have books like Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, by Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor, the present and past military correspondents of The New York Times. Trainor is a retired Marine Corps Lt General. It turns out top generals were arguing for precisely that kind of thing – for drawing on the Kosovo model. The criticisms of outside observers like me turn out to have run parallel to criticisms made inside the armed forces.

Over at TPM Cafe, Matthew Yglesias comments on this idea of a better intervention.

I think it behooves people to get much clearer than this as to what the Kosovo model was a model for. For one thing, who would “the right allies” have been in Iraq? In Kosovo, in lieu of the UN we had the support of the relevant regional organization, NATO. But was President Berman really going to get, say, the Arab League to support the invasion and occupation of Iraq in order to rebuild it as a democracy? That seems very unlikely. And it seems equally unlikely that NATO would have any particular legitimacy in Iraq.

But the problem, really, is deeper. People sometimes seem to forget that during the Kosovo War we didn’t march on Belgrade. Instead, international forces just occupied the province of Kosovo after having made war on Serbia. Since the troops were there in order to secure de facto independence for Kosovo it’s no surprise that it was relatively easy to prevent the emergence of resistance.

3QD’s World Cup Analyst Alex Cooley: Team USA, Heroes of Kaiserslautern

[Alex writes] After the Gelsenkirchen Massacre at last a display to take some pride in for us yank fans! Cooley had been eagerly anticipating the showdown with Italians, dreaming that my Italian friend Guido would make me cappuccinos and fresh pesto on demand for the next four years after we stuck it to them. I was in Berlin for the game and trying to find a Yank-friendly bar when my German friend Mattes surprised me with a spare ticket to a match viewing at the Adidas Arena by the Brandenburg gate.

The Adidas World is a large complex of various soccer shops and 5-a-side pitches that has been set-up right in front of the Reichstadt, which looks magnificent at night when lit up. Even as a large corporate ad, the area is actually quite tasteful, with lots of different national supporters strolling around and lots of games of intense World Cup enhanced pick-up games going on. Its centerpiece is an actual stadium – the Adidas Arena – that is a 1 to 10 smaller version of the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, the setting for the final. Inside there is stadium seating for thousands and a decorative pitch, along with 2 giant screens.

And of course there were thousands of fans, most of them Italians – although thank goodness a minimum of Brazil-jockers. With loud chants of “I-TAL-IA, I-TAL-IA!!” blaring in the arena we took our seats. A group of three italian fans wearing tall, funny-jester like hats yucked it up in the middle of the arena with the beaming commentator and boldly predicted a comfortable 2-0 or 3-0 win for their Euro-side. But the game would be anything but routine for the Azzurri.

The US came out much more aggressively and tactically astute than against the Czechs. Previously the team had looked passive, as if they were hoping to play for a draw and maybe create a few counter chances. That also appeared to be the Italian expectation because the 3-time world cup champions had no answers when the US came out pressuring them throughout the field and created bunches of mistakes and turnovers. The American midfield dominated play, as Toni and Totti were frustrated by man-markers and the playmaker Pirlo was forced much deeper than usual and resorted to hoofing-up England-style long balls that hardly threatened a rock solid defense. For the US, Clint Dempsey looked like a match-winner on the right and was giving Zambrotta fits with his creative runs. Landon Donovan was excellent all night as he showed a wide array of clever touches, turns and little slalom runs through the Italian middle..

Then the first of many controversial refereeing decisions gave the Italians a free kick on the right wing, after their player dived over a challenge (in a similar spot to where Ballack had thrown himself to secure the winning free kick in the US-GER Q-final 4 years ago.) Pirlo’s free kick swerved with precision to pick out an unmarked Giraldino who nodded gleefully past the helpless Keller. No matter that Luca Toni (the other forward) had bear-hugged Gooch to prevent him from covering the play. The US simply does not get those sorts of refereeing decisions, especially in Europe. We were 1 goal down after a classic sucker punch and on course to exit the tournament after just 6 days.

But the US kept its composure and sound game plan. 5 minutes later another Dempsey move on the right created a free kick opportunity in almost the mirror position as the Italian one. Left-footer Bobby Convey swung in a decent ball which the hapless wing-back Zaccardo sliced into the corner of his own net. All of a sudden 1-1. All of a sudden hope. All of a sudden the World Cup had finally arrived for us. Shock throughout the arena was followed by delirious outbursts of joy from the US fans and a flying Cooley throughout the Adidas Arena.

Then, just a minute later, Italian defensive midfielder and thuggish enforcer Del Rossi slammed an elbow straight into the face of Brian McBride. Del Rossi was given a straight red card for the textbook definition of “serious foul play” while McBride’s bloody face required three stitches. The resulting still photograph which I understand made the cover of the New York Daily News probably did more to advance the image of US soccer within the states than anything that could have happened on the field.

But just as it seemed as if the US was in with a great opportunity to continue to press and take all three points disaster struck either side of half time. First, Pablo Mastroeni was awarded a straight red card for an unnecessary lunge tackle. The tackle was not great, but was not deserving of a red given the kind of physical-from-behind challenges that had characterized the rest of the match. Then, two minutes into the second half defender Eddie Pope was given his second yellow of the match and all of a sudden the US found itself playing with 9 men against Italy’s 10 for almost an entire 45-minute half.

Playing soccer with 10 or shorthanded by 1 is bad enough – playing with 9 men for an entire half is absolutely nuts. The guys heroically ran, covered, tackled and made brilliant positional adjustments. The 9-man team even seemed to have snatched the potential winner through a Beasley shot but forward Brian McBride was judged to have been in the Italian goalkeeper’s line of sight (because he did not actually touch the ball) – not that Buffon would have gotten to it anyway. Over the last 10 minutes the US team predictably tired and through sheer guts and determination staved off the final waves of Italian attacks. “Peep, peep, peep.” .the end of the match was greeted with a thunderous roar by the Yanks and many now-converted Yank-supporting neutrals, while the Italians left the arena with heads bowed, joker hats now off in stunned silence.

Given how well we started the match a draw was not ideal, but with 9 men and playing against a savvy positional team the point was absolutely priceless. Combined with Ghana’s win over the Czechs, the US now has a fighting chance (although still not probable) of making the next round if it can beat the excellent Ghanaians.

Following the game the Azzurri’s manager Lippi said that the Italian side had “underestimated the US,” a shocking admission by a World Cup manager who had been tactically outmaneuvered by his American counterpart.

At various post-game venues I received many compliments from Euro-supporters, many of who seemed bemused that I thought we had let a great opportunity for a historical win slip away. And yes, if by somehow minor miracle things go our way on Thursday, we get Brazil next round..mouthwatering. In any case, its nice to be a Yank supporter in Berlin with some pride restored…

A Dash of Daring: Carmel Snow and Her Life in Fashion, Art, and Letters

From The Atlantic Monthly:Daring

On a bleak October day in 1933, Martin Munkacsi, a prestigious Hungarian photojournalist who’d never before taken a fashion picture, was on Long Island’s Piping Rock Beach with a socialite model and Carmel Snow, the new fashion editrix of Harper’s Bazaar, who had hired him to shoot a feature for the magazine’s “Palm Beach” issue. Munkacsi, who would become one of the most successful photographers of his generation, ordered the shivering model in bathing suit and cloak to run toward the camera. The resulting snap revolutionized fashion photography. Until then, models were all but mannequins, elaborately and statically posed in the studios; from the Palm Beach issue forward, Bazaar had them diving, scaling sand dunes, jumping over puddles, scampering (naked) around swimming pools, and perched on camels. This was a new approach to fashion (one saw the clothes in action, as much as the models), and, in its effervescence and emphasis on physicality, it was a new approach to femininity.

More here.

10 books to comfort and console during a divorce

From The Guardian:Womanreading1

For a long time, Elizabeth Buchan led a double life as a publisher and author, successfully pursuing both careers simultaneously until she became a full-time writer in 1994. Her latest novel, The Second Wife, is published by Michael Joseph this week, priced £12.99. Here she chooses her top 10 books guaranteed to give comfort during the ending of a relationship.

1. Footsteps by Richard Holmes
I first read this many years ago and it has stayed with me. Every so often, I return to it in order to immerse myself in its wonderful prose and insights. It combines travelogue with biography, detective work with a probing inner exploration, and is both an account of a physical journey and a remapping of the writer’s imagination. The book opens with an homage to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Travels with a Donkey, in which Holmes describes his own trek over the Cevennes, during which he abandoned his ambition to become a poet, having been led “far away into the undiscovered land of other’s men and women’s lives … towards biography”. It is the turning point of his life and for the remainder of the book – as he hunts down subjects that include Mary Wollenstencraft, Shelley, Gerard de Nerval and Gautier – he goes on to explore the nature of the relationship between biographer and quarry. The book so enraptured me that I myself walked in the company of friends over the Cevennes in his footsteps. It was one of the best journeys of my own life.

More here.

Facing Down Iran

From City Journal:

If you divide the world into geographical regions, then, Iran’s neither here nor there. But if you divide it ideologically, the mullahs are ideally positioned at the center of the various provinces of Islam—the Arabs, the Turks, the Stans, and the south Asians. Who better to unite the Muslim world under one inspiring, courageous leadership? If there’s going to be an Islamic superpower, Tehran would seem to be the obvious candidate.

That moment of ascendancy is now upon us. Or as the Daily Telegraph in London reported: “Iran’s hardline spiritual leaders have issued an unprecedented new fatwa, or holy order, sanctioning the use of atomic weapons against its enemies.” Hmm. I’m not a professional mullah, so I can’t speak to the theological soundness of the argument, but it seems a religious school in the Holy City of Qom has ruled that “the use of nuclear weapons may not constitute a problem, according to sharia.” Well, there’s a surprise. How do you solve a problem? Like, sharia! It’s the one-stop shop for justifying all your geopolitical objectives.

More here.

Toddlers Anticipate Actions As Well As Adults

From Scientific American:Toddler

By their first birthday most children cannot walk or talk well but they can predict the results of human actions as well as adults, according to new research. Whereas six-month-old babies can only track a human hand placing a toy in a bucket, one-year-olds show the same facility in anticipating the result as adults do.

Terje Falck-Ytter and his colleagues at Uppsala University in Sweden tested the responses of 11 babies, 11 toddlers and 11 adults when watching nine identical videos of an actor’s hand placing three toys into a bucket. Both adults and toddlers moved their eyes to the bucket before the hand finished its motion and did so in roughly the same amount of time. The babies, however, did not shift their eyes until the hand had reached the bucket.

More here.