Spitstyd, uitgesoekte rubrieke

deur Wilhelm Jordaan, Litera, 2011

Baie van vandag se (outo)biografiese werke (en die hordes awesome life-stories) wat in die media aandag kry, handel oor glansmense se lewensepisodes; flentertjies voorvalletjies en belewenissies wat aanmekaar gevleg word met oppervlakkige moralisering en aansprake oor wat die lewe hulle geleer het. Waaruit die indruk kom die lewe verloop soos ʼn sepie op TV. Wat op die voorgrond is, is die skouspel van die oomblik eerder as die duursaamheid van gedagtegang en lewenskundigheid. Die verhaal moet verbyster eerder as verhelder, vermaak eerder as ontleed, oorrompel eerder as rustige nabetragting wek.

H is for Hawk

by Helen Macdonald, Vintage, 2014

Independence – a state of being self-contained – is the only generosity, I thought, the only charity we can claim of a living creature. We must have nothing to do with another’s bones; that is our only right – to have nothing to do with them. The bone must be the axis of a globe of intrusion-proof glass. One could not say, watching a hawk: ‘I ought perhaps to do this for him.’ Therefore, not only is he safe from me, but I am safe from him. Stella Benson, England Have My Bones

Love in the afternoon, When Picasso exalted his mistress in art

by Matthew Bown, TLS, March 30, 2018

Picasso in his work is a fluid god: Harlequin, the Minotaur, a curly-bearded flute-player to naked ladies, Mithra to Marie-Thérèse’s Moon-Goddess. In life he was a cruel one. When Marie-Thérèse became pregnant in 1935, Olga left him, although she refused him a divorce. He began a new affair, with his model, Dora Maar. Marie-Thérèse and Dora finally met in the studio when Picasso was painting “Guernica.” Marie-Thérèse demanded he choose between them and Picasso told the two women to fight it out, which they did. According to a subsequent lover, Françoise Gilot, this was one of Picasso’s “choicest memories.”

The Real Life of Laurence Olivier

by Roger Lewis, Arrow Books, 1997

It is Olivier’s duty to make everything appropriate to his characters look real.Not so much a matter of being real, as he’d be at pains to point out, as long as the acting seems real: ‘Acting is illusion, as much illusion as magic is … I remember going to see the Actors’ Studio [in New York] and … the Method actors are entirely preoccupied with feeling real to themselves instead of creating the illusion of reality [for the benefit of the audience]’. There’s the famous story of Dustin Hoffman huffing and puffing, getting himself into a state, sleeping in his clothes, knocking himself out, appearing on the set red-eyed and in a pickle, so that his own frame of mind would coincide with Babe Levy’s, his part in Marathon Man. Olivier glanced at his co-star, an unshaven wreck, and said benevolently, ‘Why don’t you try acting, dear boy, it’s far easier.’ Mood, for Olivier, is in the details, not the emotions. In Rebecca. scooping the marmalade; in Pride and Prejudice, the dance steps; in Carrie, counting the bank notes and handling the keys; in Long Day’s Journey into Night, the way Tyrone is meanly measuring out a glass of Scotch: with Olivier, the trick of it resides in his practicality – how a cravat was tied; how the make-up was applied; how to get a revolving stage to function noiselessly; how things were done, or functioned, or were explained away.

The Battle for the Soul of Hong Kong

by Feliz Solomon, Time, August 26, 2019

Hong Kong’s populace recognizes that the city’s unique character and freedoms are ebbing away – and many are willing to make sacrifices to defend them. With arrests on the rise, they risk their liberty attending marches that authorities have started to label “unlawful.” They risk the city’s status as financial portal, as the unrest begins to take a toll on the economy. The fear now is that some may even sacrifice their lives as China decides how to bring this summer of demonstrations to an end. “I don’t really see a way out,” says political analyst Sonny Lo. “We’re just hoping the situation won’t deteriorate.”

Leveling the playing field

by John Lanchester, Time, February 4-11, 2019

But elites may have to change if they don’t want change to be imposed on them. This coming wave of technological transformation has the potential to be the most serious challenge modern capitalism has faced. For people who don’t have the chance to change and adapt and reskill, a pitiless world ruled by algorithms and machine learning, in which they have no utility, no relevant skills and no security, could look completely unlivable. Facing that prospect, the populations of the developed world may do things that make the current populist moment look polite, low-key and lawful.

Téa Obreht returns to resurrect the Old West

Belinda Luscombe, Time, August 26, 2019

I think places can be haunted. When horrific things happen in certain places, they are just always happening in those places in perpetuity, and you can feel the impression of it pressing down on you. – Téa Obreht

The season of ‘flight shame’ takes off

by Lisa Arend, Time, August 19, 2019

This is the season of flygskam (flight shame) and its counterpart tagskryt (train bragging). You don;t need to be teen climate activist Greta Thunberg – who is crossing the Atlantic by sailboat in August – to be among the growing number of Europeans eager to reduce their carbon footprints by limiting air travel. Coined by Swedish opera singer Malena Ernman, who happens to be Thunberg’s mother, flygskam refers to the guilt people feel using a form of transportation that contributes 2% to 3% of atmospheric carbon, as well as the shaming they may face should they persist in flying. As record-high temperatures have driven the reality of climate change home, grassroots initiatives like the Flygfritt social-media campaign – which persuaded 14,500 Swedes to renounce air travel in 2019 (and which is shooting for 100,000 in 2020) – have helped flygskam spread.


by Joanne Jowell, Tafelberg, 2019

I do think it’s better that I know The Truth, as much as it hurt. I’m wiser about the world now, how it operates and the people in it. It’s preparing me for other things. I need to be smart about my choices and decisions – I need to look ahead, to my future and that of my own children.

It’s not about linking gun violence and mental illness

by Dr. Jessica Gold and Dr. Megan Ranney, Time, August 19, 2019

But there is no factual link between mental illness and (gun) violence against others. People with mental-health disorders are more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators, and more likely to hurt themselves than others. There is a much stronger correlation between mass shootings and other issues, like domestic violence. Misleading statements about mental health stigmatize patients, leading to fewer seeking help and possible social isolation. A 2013 Kaiser Health poll found that 47% of Americans are uncomfortable working with someone with a serious mental illness.

First human-monkey chimera raises concern among scientists

theguardian.com, August 3, 2019

One possible approach for brain research is that a monkey embryo could be genetically altered and then injected with human stem cells so that part of the brain, for example the hippocampus, is composed only of human cells. A similar approach has previously been used by Izpisúa Belmonte and colleagues to grow a rat pancreas inside a mouse.  “If you just swap the hippocampus, it doesn’t mean you are now going to have a human-functioning brain,” said Lovell-Badge. “It might have perhaps slightly better memories or slightly different memories … but they are not going to have a human cortex, which is what actually makes us human.”

Spitstyd, uitgesoekte rubrieke

deur Wilhelm Jordaan, Litera, 2011

Selfmoordnotas is in die reël ʼn banalisering van ʼn intens private, wesenlik onkenbare en allerverskriklike daad. Verslaggewing oor sensasiewekkende besonderhede behoort opgevolg te word met ander perspektiewe. Soos dat selfmoord die gevolg is van ʼn komplekse wisselwerking tussen biologiese vatbaarheid vir depressie en ander faktore soos die misbruik van alkohol en dwelms, temperamentsneigings, eiesoortige lewenskrisisse en aangeleerde sielkundige reaksiewyses. En dat professionele hulp beskikbaar is om die kompleksiteit van ʼn mens se doodswens aan te spreek om verligting en heling te bring; en hoedanig familie, vriende, kollegas en steungroepe daarby betrek kan word.