Paper Tiger

by Alide Dasnois & Chris Whitfield.Tafelberg, 2019

It was not long before what many characterised as a ‘purge’ of senior staff began at Independent Newspapers. Some saw it as a move to get rid of white staff under the guise of transformation, but many black staff members also felt they were being victimized and pushed out. Mostly it seemed that independent-minded members of staff were being targeted. Some people left of their own volition. Some left because the environment had become toxic. Some were forced out.

Please do me the favour of letting me in

by Claire Kohda Hazelton, TLS, March 30, 2018

The popularity of Wuthering Heights in Japan can be traced back to a single statement made to a group of Japanese students in the mid-1920’s. It was then that the English poet and critic Edmund Blunden boldly announced to the class he taught at Tokyo University that the three tragedies written in the English language were King Lear, Moby Dick and Wuthering Heights. Blunden’s students revered their teacher – who had, in return, little respect for them – and they unquestioningly received his assertion as a fact. The effects were to be far-reaching. In 1932, one of those students, Yamato Yasuo, published the first Japanese translation of Emily Brontë’s novel; thirty years later, another of them, Abe Tomoji, published his own translation, and reasserted Blunden’s statement in a critical biography of Herman Melville. And so the idea spread and became, eventually, widely accepted.

Why I have hope for the climate-change battles to come

by Al Gore, Time, September 23, 2019

Humanity is now spewing more than 110 million tons of global warming pollution every day into the exceedingly thin shell of atmosphere that surrounds our planet as if it were an open sewer. The extra heat energy being trapped on earth and exacerbated by man-made climate change is now equal to what would be released by 500,000 Hiroshima-class atomic bombs exploding on earth every single day, according to James Hansen, a leading climate scientist. And the knock-on consequences of all that extra heat energy is leading to increasingly dangerous threats to lives and livelihoods all around the world.

H is for Hawk

by Helen Macdonald, Vintage, 2014

There is a time in life when you expect the world to be always full of new things. And then comes a day when you realise that it is not how it will be at all. You see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Things that were there and are no longer. And you realise, too, that you have to grow around and between the gaps, though you can put your hand out to where things were and feel that tense, shining dullness of the space where the memories are.

Kry ʼn sleutel vir die geslote boek

deur Anja van den Berg, Taalgenoot, Lente 2019

Daar is nie sekerheid oor die outeur van Openbaring se identiteit nie. Dit word algemeen aanvaar die apostel Johannes het die boek geskryf nadat hy weens sy oortuigings na die eiland Patmos verban is. Sommige kenners meen die skrywer was ʼn reisende apokalips-profeet in Klein-Asië (hoofsaaklik die hedendaagse Turkye) en die boek was oorspronklik briewe gerig aan die sewe gemeentes in daardie gebied wat ʼn tyd van vervolging beleef het.

The Global War on Truth

by Richard Stengel, Time, October 7, 2019

But ultimately the problem is centred less on government  or even platforms than on users; that is, you and me. I have long thought that we don’t have a “fake news” problem. Millions of people just can’t tell the difference between a made-up story and a factual one, and don’t know how to do so. This is a long-term problem with a long-term solution: media literacy needs to be taught in elementary school. People need to learn the provenance of information: what is an accepted fact and what is not; what is a trusted source and what is not. At the same time, the media itself must become radically transparent: publish the full text of interviews and reporters’ research. That alone will begin to make people more literate about the sources of the information we get.

Why can’t we agree on what’s true anymore?

by William Davies, theguardian.com, September 19, 2019

Public life has become like a play whose audience is unwilling to suspend disbelief. Any utterance by a public figure can be unpicked in search of its ulterior motive. As cynicism grows, even judges, the supposedly neutral upholders of the law, are publicly accused of personal bias. Once doubt descends on public life, people become increasingly dependent on their own experiences and their own beliefs about how the world really works. One effect of this is that facts no longer seem to matter (the phenomenon misleadingly dubbed “post-truth”). But the crisis of democracy and of truth are one and the same: individuals are increasingly suspicious of the “official” stories they are being told, and expect to witness things for themselves.

Priestdaddy

by Patricia Lockwood, Penguin Memoir, 2017

My father has never willingly put on a seat belt in his life. He has always found the very idea of “safety” to be ridiculous. Why would he ever want to be safe? What was he, a little girl? A miniature woman? A babylady? John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, huge hairy Samson from the Bible – those men didn’t wear seat belts. If they needed a seat belt, they tore off a man’s arm and laid it across their lap.

Sushi en Shosholoza, Rugbyreise en pelgrimstogte in Japan

deur Erns Grundling, Queillerie, 2019

Die klimseisoen is elke jaar van begin Julie tot begin September. In 2017 het 284 860 mense Mount Fuji geklim binne die seisoen. Gemiddeld vierduisend per dag. Ek en PJ het vroeër op die internet na foto’s gekyk van hordes mense wat toustaan op die berg. Dit het byna soos ons 1994-verkiesingstou gelyk.

Die eindelose avontuur, ʼn Venster op die wêreldletterkunde

deur Audrey Blignault, uit die hoofstuk ‘n Noodlottige dwaalweg na geluk, Tafelberg, 1993

Waarom is Emma Bovary een van die onsterflike vroue in die letterkunde van die wêreld? Omdat sy elke mens se wesenlike verlange na geluk, na liefde, na die vervulling van ʼn droom verteenwoordig, en omdat sy nie die insig gehad het om te weet waaruit dié geluk, dié liefde, dié vervulling van die droom werklik bestaan nie. Het ʼn mens nie dié insig nie, moet die geluk jou altyd ontwyk en kan die soektog na die geluk jou op gevaarlike dwaalspore bring, soms so gevaarlik dat jy op jou eie vernietiging afstuur.

Crowds and Power

by Elias Canetti, Penguin, 1973

An executioner is a man threatened with death in order to make him kill, although only those he is told to kill. If he keeps strictly to his orders, nothing can happen to him. It is true that he may allow the way he carries them out to be affected by other threats which have been used against him at different times; he naturally comes to his task with any stings he has accumulated from elsewhere. But the basic mechanism of his job remains the same: killing others he frees himself from death. To him it is a clean business, with nothing shocking or unnatural about it. He cannot find inside him any of the horror he awakens in others. It is important to be quite clear about this: official killers are contented in proportion as the commands they are given lead directly to death. A prison warder’s life is far more difficult than an executioner’s. It is true that society penalises the latter for the gratification he derives from his job by making him a kind of outlaw; but even this is not without some advantage for him. In fact he is nothing but a tool, but still he does survive his victims and so some of the prestige of the survivor accrues to him and compensates for his outlawry. He finds himself a wife, has children and leads a normal family life.

Page after page

by Darran Anderson, TLS, March 30, 2018

The Great Kantō earthquake laid waste to Tokyo and its inhabitants. Many buildings collapsed, but it was the resulting fires that did the most damage, destroying over 60 percent of the capital’s housing. Faced with the carnage, the young Kurosawa averted his gaze but his brother chastized him. “Akira, look carefully … If you shut your eyes to a frightening sight, you end up being frightened. If you look at everything, straight on, there is nothing to be afraid of.” Throughout his films, Kurosawa would encourage this unflinching gaze, nowhere more so than in his masterpiece of shifting perspectives and unreliable narrative, Rashamōn (1950).

Eye of the Storm

by Vivienne Walt, Time, September 30, 2019

A lifelong bibliophile, Macron says he carves out “one or two hours” a day for reading – essential for his well-being, he says. Over the summer, he reread books by Albert Camus and polished off the new novel by French writer Luc Lang, among others. Once or twice a week he plays sports, including boxing, sparring with his bodyguards in the sweeping gardens of the Élysée. Downtime is crucial, he says, “to remain independent and to think and remain creative.” A karaoke maven while a graduate student, Macron admits he “still sings” karaoke “in some contexts.” And his musical tastes are last century: French greats Charles Aznavour and Johnny Hallyday.