No Blueprint for Utopia – Los Angeles Review of Books

Who needs a worldview? Maybe we don’t, as individuals — or some of us do, others not so much. But collectively, we need worldviews as elements in the process of free inquiry and human growth. Such visions inspire while they frustrate. As we muddle through our lives together, we need the friction between quixotic efforts [...]

Ashoka’s ethical infrastructure is carved into India’s rocks | Aeon Essays

In the Khyber valley of Northern Pakistan, three large boulders sit atop a hill commanding a beautiful prospect of the city of Mansehra. A low brick wall surrounds these boulders; a simple roof, mounted on four brick pillars, protects the rock faces from wind and rain. This structure preserves for posterity the words inscribed there: [...]

Genetic origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans | Nature

The origins of the Bronze Age Minoan and Mycenaean cultures have puzzled archaeologists for more than a century. We have assembled genome-wide data from 19 ancient individuals, including Minoans from Crete, Mycenaeans from mainland Greece, and their eastern neighbours from southwestern Anatolia. Here we show that Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically similar, having at least [...]

The Great Elmore Leonard Renaissance of the Late ’90s | CrimeReads

During his reign as the preeminent king of American crime lit, the late Elmore Leonard was often described as “the most cinematic novelist in the English language.” It was a designation he seemed to encourage, once remarking “I’ve always seen my books as movies.” To be fair, the cinematic track record of Leonard adaptations is [...]

Iris Murdoch: The Art of Fiction No. 117 – Paris Review

Murdoch and her husband live in a house in academic north Oxford. In its comfortably untidy rooms books overflow the shelves and are piled high on the floor. Even the bathroom is filled with volumes on language, including Dutch and Esperanto grammar books. Her paper-strewn second-floor study is decorated with oriental rugs and with paintings [...]

On the City of Florence’s Struggle to Get Back Dante’s Body | Literary Hub

Giovanni Boccaccio’s call for Florence to retrieve Dante’s corpse appears in retrospect to have been primarily an elaborate literary conceit. The city’s abusive treatment and subsequent unworthiness of Dante enabled Boccaccio to fulfill the principal aim of his biography—notably titled a “treatise in praise of Dante”—by casting the poet and his work as “divine.” Later [...]

“Beating the Bounds” | JSTOR Daily

Maps are only one way of knowing the shape of a place. Before the borders of England’s parishes were definitively mapped, people learned the boundaries of their community by foot. Every year, a few days before the feast of the Ascension, the members of each parish would come together to walk the edge of their [...]

Ukrainian Railroad Ladies – The Washington Post

When asked about his inspiration for “Ukrainian Railroad Ladies,” a series of portraits of women who work as traffic controllers and safety officers, photographer Sasha Maslov said, “As a photographer I was drawn to the architecture and interiors of these buildings. As a storyteller I was attracted by the anthropological and social roles played by [...]