Monday Reads: Esoteric InterestsPosted: December 3, 2012
I’m going to try to put some interesting reads up this morning just because the political theater surrounding the budget discussions has gotten to me. So, here are some things to read that are a little more esoteric. Most of these things have little hints of hidden secrets that are just tantalizing to me and hopefully a few of you too.
The Atlantic‘s Benjamin Schwartz has a feature article on ‘The Education of Virginia Woolf’ that you literature fans may want to read.
Taken as a whole, Woolf’s essays are probably the most intense paean to reading—an activity pursued not for a purpose but for love—ever written in English. Her assessment of “the man who loves reading” (in contrast to “the man who loves learning”) fit both herself as an essayist and her audience:
A reader must check the desire for learning at the outset; if knowledge sticks to him well and good, but to go in pursuit of it, to read on a system, to become a specialist or an authority, is very apt to kill … the more humane passion for pure and disinterested reading. The true reader is a man of intense curiosity; of ideas; open-minded and communicative, to whom reading is more of the nature of brisk exercise in the open air than of sheltered study.
That passage, from Woolf’s essay “Hours in a Library,” a title she borrowed from a multivolume collection of her father’s essays, recalls Stephen’s passion for reading, walking, and climbing. She invoked her father again in “The Leaning Tower,” an essay adapted from a wartime lecture she gave in 1940 to the Workers’ Education Association, in which she conflated her expansive concept of amateurism with her hopeful, democratic vision of the reading life:
Let us bear in mind a piece of advice that an eminent Victorian who was also an eminent pedestrian once gave to walkers: “Whenever you see a board up with ‘Trespassers will be prosecuted,’ trespass at once.” Let us trespass at once. Literature is no one’s private ground; literature is common ground … It is thus that English literature will survive this war … if commoners and outsiders like ourselves make that country our own country, if we teach ourselves how to read and how to write, how to preserve and how to create.
The American Psychiatric Association’s new diagnostic manual will be published in May with some interesting changes.
The now familiar term “Asperger’s disorder” is being dropped. And abnormally bad and frequent temper tantrums will be given a scientific-sounding diagnosis called DMDD. But “dyslexia” and other learning disorders remain.
The revisions come in the first major rewrite in nearly 20 years of the diagnostic guide used by the nation’s psychiatrists. Changes were approved Saturday.
One of the most hotly argued changes was how to define the various ranges of autism. Some advocates opposed the idea of dropping the specific diagnosis for Asperger’s disorder. People with that disorder often have high intelligence and vast knowledge on narrow subjects but lack social skills. Some who have the condition embrace their quirkiness and vow to continue to use the label.
And some Asperger’s families opposed any change, fearing their kids would lose a diagnosis and no longer be eligible for special services.
But the revision will not affect their education services, experts say.
The new manual adds the term “autism spectrum disorder,” which already is used by many experts in the field. Asperger’s disorder will be dropped and incorporated under that umbrella diagnosis. The new category will include kids with severe autism, who often don’t talk or interact, as well as those with milder forms.
So, for all of you that appreciate some real life thriller and spy drama, Salon has “James Bond and the killer bag lady” for your reading pleasure. The suspect is Lois Lang. Even her name sounds like something that should be in the movies!
On the morning of Nov. 19, 1985, a wild-eyed and disheveled homeless woman entered the reception room at the legendary Wall Street firm of Deak-Perera. Carrying a backpack with an aluminum baseball bat sticking out of the top, her face partially hidden by shocks of greasy, gray-streaked hair falling out from under a wool cap, she demanded to speak with the firm’s 80-year-old founder and president, Nicholas Deak.
The 44-year-old drifter’s name was Lois Lang. She had arrived at Port Authority that morning, the final stop on a month-long cross-country Greyhound journey that began in Seattle. Deak-Perera’s receptionist, Frances Lauder, told the woman that Deak was out. Lang became agitated and accused Lauder of lying. Trying to defuse the situation, the receptionist led the unkempt woman down the hallway and showed her Deak’s empty office. “I’ll be in touch,” Lang said, and left for a coffee shop around the corner. From her seat by a window, she kept close watch on 29 Broadway, an art deco skyscraper diagonal from the Bowling Green Bull.
Deak-Perera had been headquartered on the building’s 20th and 21st floors since the late 1960s. Nick Deak, known as “the James Bond of money,” founded the company in 1947 with the financial backing of the CIA. For more than three decades the company had functioned as an unofficial arm of the intelligence agency and was a key asset in the execution of U.S. Cold War foreign policy. From humble beginnings as a spook front and flower import business, the firm grew to become the largest currency and precious metals firm in the Western Hemisphere, if not the world. But on this day in November, the offices were half-empty and employees few. Deak-Perera had been decimated the year before by a federal investigation into its ties to organized crime syndicates from Buenos Aires to Manila. Deak’s former CIA associates did nothing to interfere with the public takedown. Deak-Perera declared bankruptcy in December 1984, setting off panicked and sometimes violent runs on its offices in Latin America and Asia.
Lois Lang had been watching 29 Broadway for two hours when a limousine dropped off Deak and his son Leslie at the building’s revolving-door rear entrance. They took the elevator to the 21st floor, where Lauder informed Deak about the odd visitor. Deak merely shrugged and was settling into his office when he heard a commotion in the reception room. Lang had returned. Frances Lauder let out a fearful “Oh—” shortened by two bangs from a .38 revolver. The first bullet missed. The second struck the secretary between the eyes and exited out the back of her skull.
So, those of you that know me also know that my Saturday night ritual consists of a good red wine, some great music, and a long soak in a hot tub with my latest edition of The Economist. I got more than I bargained for with this article which was a review of a book. And I REALLLLLLYYYYY quote:
Cross to bare
Anatomy of a seminal work
Dec 1st 2012 | from the print editionBehind the figleaf
God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis. By Tom Hickman. Square Peg; 234 pages; £12.99. Buy from Amazon.co.uk
THE problem with penises, as Richard Rudgley, a British anthropologist, admitted on a television programme some years ago, is that once you start noticing them, you “tend to see willies pretty much everywhere”. They are manifest in skyscrapers, depicted in art and loom large in literature. They pop up on the walls of schoolyards across the world, and on the walls of temples both modern and ancient. The Greeks and Japanese rendered them on statues that stood at street corners. Hindus worship the lingam in temples across the land. Even the cross on which Jesus was hung is considered by some to be a representation of male genitalia.
Yet the penis has also been shamed into hiding through the ages. One night in 415BC, Athens’s street-corner statues were dismembered en masse. Stone penises were still causing anxiety in the late 20th century, when the Victoria and Albert Museum in London pulled out of storage a stone figleaf in case a member of the royal family wanted to see its 18-foot (5.5-metre) replica of Michelangelo’s “David”. Nothing, save the vagina, which is neither as easy nor as childishly satisfying to scrawl on a wall, manages to be so sacred and so profane at once. This paradox makes it an object of fascination.
Yes, since I put up a picture of Freud I just had to follow-up with something phallic. I leave the discussion to you.
So, what would one of my esoteric posts be without a mention of a historic grave. This time it’s the Tomb of a Renaissance Warrior that may have run awry of his famous Medici Family. This guy’s been dug up a lot so the story is a little twisted.
A noble-but-brutal Renaissance warrior who fell to a battle wound may not have died exactly as historians had believed, according to a new investigation of the man’s bones.
Italian researchers opened the tomb of Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, or Giovanni of the Black Bands, this week to investigate the real cause of his death. Giovanni was born in 1498 into the wealthy and influential Medici family, a lineage that produced three Popes and two regent queens of France, among many other nobles (Another branch of the family, the Medicis of Milan, boasted a fourth Pope). He worked as a mercenary military captain for Pope Leo X (one of the Medici family’s Popes), and fought many a successful skirmish in his name. When Pope Leo X died in 1521, Giovanni altered his uniform to include black mourning bands, earning him his nickname.
Giovanni was wounded in battle in 1526; reportedly, his leg was amputated and he died several days later of infection. However, the new investigation of the Giovanni remains reveals that it was not his leg that was sawn off, but his foot. Nor is there any damage to the man’s thigh, where the shot supposedly hit.
Giovanni’s grave has been opened five times already, including an investigation in 1945. This confirmation of the man’s actual wound has created a medical mystery.
“Giovanni was wounded in the right leg (maybe above the knee) but was amputee[d] [at the] foot,” Marco Ferri, a spokesman for the Superintendent of Fine Arts of Florentine Museums, wrote in an email to LiveScience. “Why? The surgeon was not a good doctor or the news [that] reached us [is] not accurate.”
Giovanni’s bones rest with those of his wife, Maria Salviati in two zinc boxes in the crypt of the Medici Chapels in Florence. The man’s tibia and fibula, the bones of the lower leg, were found sawed off from the amputation. There was no damage to the femur (thigh bone).
BFFs? We can dream. But Meryl Streep and Hillary Clinton looked pretty chummy on Saturday night.
The Oscar-winning actress and the Secretary of State met up at the Kennedy Center Honors gala, held at the State Department.
According to the AP, Streep used her iPhone to snap a photo of the two powerful women.
Earlier this year, Streep compared herself to the former First Lady.
“I find a lot of similarities,” Streep said when introducing Clinton at the Women in the World Summit. “We’re roughly the same age, we both have two brothers — mine are annoying — we both grew up in middle-class homes with spirited, big-hearted mothers who encouraged us to do something valuable and interesting with our lives. We both went from public high schools to distinguished women’s colleges … We both went on to graduate school at Yale.”
How about Meryl playing Hillary in a Biopic? It could work!!!
So, that’s a little something different for you to read while getting your Monday going.
I’d like to end with a great big thank you for those of you that helped me pay our annual bills this month. We have to pay a little extra to get the blog to look this way and to have enough room to store things and move around. Thanks a lot for all your support and comments! I think we have one of the best blogging communities on the internet and I adore you all!!!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?