(Part 2) Anna Gát: What to Read This Weekend #46

(Part 2) Anna Gát: What to Read This Weekend #46

Good takes, bad takes. Men and women. War and peace. Optimism and misanthropy. And cancer vaccines, AI boyfriends, degrowth fears, sacred days, polyamory, Jesus, Jews, poetry, rape, CS Lewis, and more

👉🏻 Continued from Part 1 👈🏻

The Mathematics of Marital Conflict: Dynamic Mathematical Nonlinear Modeling of Newly wed Marital Interaction (1999)

Parameters of the model predicted divorce in a sample of newlyweds. The parameters reflected uninfluenced husband and wife steady states, emotional inertia, influenced husband and wife steady states, and influence functions. The model permits separation of uninfluenced parameters—that is, what is initially brought to the interaction by each person's personality or the relationship's history—from where the interaction heads once influence begins. In the present model, a theoretical shape of the influence functions is proposed that permits estimation of negative and positive threshold parameters. Couples who eventually divorced initially had more negative uninfluenced husband and wife steady states, more negative influenced husband steady state, and lower negative threshold in the influence function.

  • John Gottman, Catherine Swanson, and James Murray

Aiming at something noble. Resolutions for human flourishing.

We never tire of asking how to live a better life. But we soon tire of looking for better answers. To get a better self-help, we need to draw on different thinkers. To know how to live a better life, we must accept that this question is hard, will require more of us than we might be prepared to give, and will not entirely yield to rules, formulas, and systems.

More than a set of hacks and tricks to improve your career, self-help at its best offers a way of living that fulfils your potential as a rounded individual. It enables you to flourish—spiritually, morally, practically, aesthetically. At its best, self-help emulates the great philosophical and religious traditions by confronting you with what is hard about life and by showing you that you can accomplish difficult things.

The thinker who wrote best about human flourishing and who has the most to offer us when we think about how to become our best selves, is the English philosopher John Stuart Mill.

  • Henry Oliver

Why do so many couples work together in the psychedelic industry?

In Europe, Swiss psychiatrist Samuel Widmer ran a psychedelic therapeutic community called Cherry Blossom with his wife Daniele Nicolet. Several couples also worked together in the European psychedelic therapy underground, such as Friedrike and Konrad Fischer, Heike and Peter Hess, Verena Widmer and Peter Oehen, and Peter Gasser and Anke Roskamp. Married couples also loom large in the American psychedelic industry.

  • Jules Evans and Joseph Holcomb Adams 

Respect Each Others’ Delusions

There is a thing in psychology called depressive realism, which is the idea that depressed people make more accurate predictions of the world because they are more attuned to how fragile, competitive, and ruthless life can be. But they are a minority. Most of us cling to the opposite, carrying around comforting delusions that guide our beliefs.

  • Morgan Housel

The Quality to be Tragic

There are no flat patches in [Elizabeth Hardwick]’s prose. Every inch is as detailed and colored as a Renaissance landscape. All is taut, condensed; there is pressure on every word. “She writes like a poet..."

  • William Deresiewicz; Liberties

Chapter and verse on the unknowable Bard

It is natural for admirers of Shakespeare’s work to wish to get to know the man.

  • Samuel Rubinstein; The Critic

Choosing a Montessori 0-3 program

Do they remain calm, patient, and respectful with the child? Do they allow children time and opportunity to sort out their own problems or step in quickly to fix them?

Fun is dead: It’s become emphatic, exhausting, scheduled, hyped, forced and performative

Because there is now a coach for everything, Alvarez hired the “party coach” Evan Cudworth, taking his $497 course this fall on how to pursue “intentional fun.” (It now costs $555.) Cudworth meets with students biweekly, assigns podcasts, asks them to journal, and teaches them how to regulate their impulses and explore new outlets for fun.

  • Karen Heller; The Washington Post — I thought this was a parody but nope!

Scenes from a Marriage: The correspondence behind Robert Lowell’s controversial book The Dolphin (2020)

The most notable gap in The Dolphin Letters is the life of Caroline Blackwood: a writer, a beauty, the muse and former wife of the painter Lucian Freud. Lowell doesn’t say much about her to Hardwick and sketches her lightly in letters to friends. Hardwick herself had little respect for her rival. “I cannot take her seriously for Cal,” she wrote to McCarthy, describing how she “burst out laughing” with relief upon realizing that Blackwood was the object of her husband’s affections. “She drifts about, has babies, destroys lives of both men and women who are really serious and deep by her carelessness and spoiled indifference to consequence and the feelings of others,” she wrote to Lowell in 1971. In another letter to Lowell, she sums up Blackwood in just two words: “Caroline, unreal.”

  • Maggie Doherty (again), Bookforum

Nick Drake: Why the mysterious British music icon who died young is misunderstood

"There was quite a lot of small detail that I was able to fill in," says Morton Jack, who recently visited the Wikipedia page on Drake and gave up counting the factual errors when he reached 50. "Speaking to everyone, it wasn't as if some people had one impression and other people had another. There was quite a strong consensus, not just about his personality but also about his behaviour. So, for example, one of the absolute givens about him has been that he smoked a quite unbelievable amount of dope and was completely damaged by drugs. Well, no one who knew him says that."

  • Neil Armstrong; BBC

L.A. Affairs: I froze my eggs and put starting a family on hold. Was it a mistake?

Encouraged by his hints at marriage, I mentioned I was considering proposing; he said he would accept “only if it was a really big rock.” I bought a chunk of magnetite (its presence on Mars indicates a possible history of biological life). In late November, we went on a night hike up to Echo Mountain. At the top, I handed him the big rock with a note that read: “Will you marry me?”

  • Dr. Christine Corbett Moran; Los Angeles Times

How Poor Maintenance Loses Wars - 1973, Israel Maintains

One answer is spelled out in a 2019 paper titled “Taking a Look under the Hood: The October War and What Maintenance Approaches Reveal about Military Operations,” by US Army Colonel James Powell.  I’m drawing on his paper and other analyses to see what the conduct on both sides of the October War might reveal about “maintenance mind”--because apparently the Israeli troops had it and the Egyptian troops didn’t, and it turned out to be pivotal.

  • Stewart Brand; Works In Progress

The desalination thread

RO moves away from distillation completely: The use of capillary or small pore membranes with pore size of 1nm or less and a positive pressure gradient to force water through, removing salt, bacteria & viruses. It must, however, overcome osmotic pressure.

  • Jordan Taylor

The Student: A Conversation with Michael S. Roth

“In the early modern period in the West, the idea of being a student was linked with developing economic autonomy and the ability to integrate into one’s community, in the Enlightenment being a student takes on a broader sense of learning freedom. This is, of course, an ideal, and so I thought it important take on how writers dealt with populations excluded from this ideal—women and enslaved people. I discuss Mary Wollstonecraft’s devastating critique of some of the patriarchal assumptions of those who wrote about learning and freedom, and I also turn to the Enlightenment hypocrisies regarding slavery. Excluding enslaved people from the possibility of being students underscored the importance of the idea of learning as freedom and the racist assumptions that co-existed with lofty Enlightenment ideals.”

  • Yale University Press

What if ‘Food Noise’ Is Just … Hunger?

Now the concept of “food noise” is ubiquitous on social media; a quick TikTok search, for instance, finds that videos related to “food noise explained” attracted 1.8 billion views as of this summer. Coined to name the experience of thinking about food, longing for food, planning our next meal and so on, “food noise” is a slick rebrand of some of the most basic human drives: hunger, appetite, craving.

  • Kate Manne; The New York Times

There is Such a Thing as Talent: Elizabeth Hardwick on Writing (2018)

“As for writing fiction, well, you don’t have any primary text, of course. You have to create that, and yet the struggle seems to be to uncover things by language, to find out what you mean and feel by the sheer effort of writing it down. By expression you discover what you wish to express or what can be expressed, by you. Things that are vague in the beginning have to be made concrete. Often, what you thought was the creative idea ahead of you vanishes or becomes something else.”

  • Emily Temple; Literary Hub

An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth (2014)

The Israel story is framed to seem as if it has nothing to do with events nearby because the “Israel” of international journalism does not exist in the same geo-political universe as Iraq, Syria, or Egypt. The Israel story is not a story about current events. It is about something else.

  • Matti Friedman; Tablet

Everyone Should Be In Therapy

If you come from a religious background or embraced a religion, it’s likely religion plays its part as your therapy. Why would you need therapy if your priest or monk already fills that void for you? And in our modern era, if religion was Marx’s opiate of the masses in the 19th century, I think it’s social media that has come to replace religion as our opiate.

Reaching Out

I reiterate: there are many people you could be friends with, if and only if you reach out to them. I’m not talking about one-sided relationships here. Reciprocity is important, but “first contact” will always be asymmetric. If you’re unwilling to step up and initiate, then for all of the reasons above, you’ll miss out on people.

  • Will Bamberg, Interintellect blog

The Rise and Fall of an Empire (State)

Just over 267,000 more people moved out of New York than moved in from other states or abroad, sapping the state’s economy of vital human capital. As a result, the state lost 1.3 percent of its prior year’s population—the worst performance of any state in 2021. Even as international migration remained positive, the exodus of domestic migrants to other states far exceeded the number of new arrivals from abroad. The spike in outmigration means that much of the state’s population gain in the decade prior has since disappeared, shrinking the state’s total population back below 20 million. 

  • Kenan Fikri and Daniel Newman; Economic Innovation Group

TS Eliot’s hidden love letters reveal intense, heartbreaking affair (2020)

He concluded: “If this is a love letter it is the last I shall ever write in my life. And I will sign it.”

  • Edward Helmore; The Guardian

The Gerontocracy Waged War on Gen Z. Now They’re Fighting Back

For the past few years, the polls haven’t been looking good for Biden. There was one in 2022 that said 22 percent of Gen Z’ers said they wouldn’t vote at all if the choices were Biden and Trump.

  • Cassady Rosenblum; Rolling Stone

The worst tweet of the year & Britain's economic woes

The United Kingdom, much like the patients of [Thomas Mann]'s sanatorium, watches life unfold, seemingly powerless to alter its course, consumed from the inside. It’s all still elegant, proper and nice: UK has a Royal Family to remind them of the good old times. There are numerous other signs of a glorious past: just walking along the streets of Cambridge and Oxford reminds one of that. Go to a Formal Dinner in one of the colleges in these institutions and you’ll see Fellows taking themselves very seriously and reminding everyone of the past glory through countless little rituals that have been preserved through centuries. But peel that sheen away, and the rot is showing: trains do not arrive in time, houses are getting old and you cannot build new ones because of weird regulations, wages are stagnating and so on. Britain, captured by the comfortable illusion of its past, seems to observe the world's relentless march from afar, reluctant to emerge from the cocoon of inaction.

  • Ruxandra Teslo

Dancing and time

Repetition does not add anything, it only accentuates what is irreducible to human existence. Repetition in Kierkegaard is ‘the will to live again and the refusal to survive’. Only by repeating can we become authentic subjects.

  • Isabel Jacobs; Aeon

A Taste of an Approaching Climate Dystopia The Death of the Amazon River Dolphin

When the moon hangs large and round above the Amazon, the dolphins climb out of the river and transform into handsome young men. Such is the legend that has been passed down for centuries in villages nestled in the river basin. It is the best known of the many legends told about the pink river dolphin – which is, says Miriam Marmontel, "the face of the Amazon." …

There is now a large vat on the grass behind Marmontel's laboratory. When she opens the lid, an appalling odor wafts out. It is full of dolphin heads. Because the researcher didn't have enough room for so many dolphin corpses, they cut the heads of the dead animals to examine them… Together with her colleagues, Marmontel set out to learn what caused the mysterious die-off.

  • Jens Glüsing; Spiegel English

How December 25 Became Christmas

Around 200 C.E. Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel of John) in the year Jesus diedc was equivalent to March 25 in the Roman (solar) calendar. March 25 is, of course, nine months before December 25; it was later recognized as the Feast of the Annunciation—the commemoration of Jesus’ conception. Thus, Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. Exactly nine months later, Jesus was born, on December 25.

  • Andrew McGowan; Biblical Archeology Society

“I wanted to make it a beautiful disaster”: Pawel Pawlikowski on his new film Cold War (2018)

“My mother was a ballerina in the first half of her life and she screwed up her back. She had scoliosis, which she didn’t look after, and then she had three operations that went wrong. She was in corsets, and there was morphine. My father had three heart attacks; he was a heavy smoker and drinker. They were quite young when they died, 57 and 67, but they died together in a not dissimilar fashion to what you see in the film.”

  • Alissa Wilkinson; Vox

Walking (1862)

If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again, — if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man, then you are ready for a walk.

  • Henry David Thoreau; The Atlantic

Within the Pretense of No Pretense

In the absence of responsibility, personal belief became the locus of identity.

  • Greg Jackson; The Point

The Cross and the Machine

There was enough truth in this story to fuel the intellectual anger of the Dawkins-esque teenage atheist that I later became. People had walked away from the church by choice, after all, and not just because they all wanted to have premarital sex. The message seemed irrelevant. Across Europe, the exodus was happening. Corrupted, tired, suddenly powerless, Christianity was dying in the West. And why not? I hadn’t seen anything relevant in it. Where was the mystery? Where was the promised connection with God? Who was this God anyway? A man in the sky with a book of rules? It was long past time to move on.

I didn’t know back then that the Christian story is the story of our rebellion against God. I didn’t know that by taking part in that rebellion I had become part of the story, whether I liked it or not.

  • By Paul Kingsnorth; The Free Press

Sofia Coppola: ‘I Would Never Be Able to Make’ a Big Studio Movie

“It was tricky to get the tone right because I didn’t want it to feel creepy,” Coppola said of the Presley love story. “I wanted it to be from her point of view, being romantic, but I had to turn off the side of my brain that’s a mother and an adult. She’s a young girl with Elvis, this rock star and what would that feel like? So you have to shift perspectives. I just always tried to go back to Priscilla’s experience and I thought if I could just show it through her perspective and suspend judgement, then hopefully after the movie it invites conversation.”

  • Samantha Bergeson; IndieWire

How to Stop Our High-Tech Equipment From Arming Russia and China

Companies making controlled tools should be mandated to install tamperproof geolocation in them. An Apple AirTag costs less than $30. Manufacturers of million-dollar tools can surely find a cost-effective way of incorporating government-approved geolocation into their dual-use devices and providing real-time verification to the Commerce Department. Ideally, if a prohibited tool were transferred into Russia or a prohibited Chinese plant, it would be disabled automatically. At the very least, investigators would have a track record of where the tool had been.

  • Chris Miller and Jordan Schneider; The New York Times

Jodie Foster Remembers That Weekend She Hosted SNL and Met Andy Warhol

“They had me do weird things on SNL because I was a kid and they couldn’t figure out what to do with me. So they had me, at 14, sitting on some dude’s lap with pigtails on pretending to be a child. So the show was a little awkward.”

  • Interview Magazine

Poison Gas Hints at Potential for Life on an Ocean Moon of Saturn

Earlier this year, another team of scientists reported that icy particles in the Enceladus plumes contained phosphates, which also pointed to geochemical interactions between the ocean and rocky floor. Phosphorus is another key element thought to be essential for life.

  • Kenneth Chang; The New York Times

The madness of Claude Monet

He grew up too in the age of photography and realised quickly that painting had to adapt to compete. While photographs merely stilled the scene at the moment the shutter clicked, he set out not only to capture the fleeting moment but to embed that transience in each image.

  • Michael Prodger; New Statesman

Scientists Have Reported a Breakthrough In Understanding Whale Language

[The] visualizations vindicated the AI’s prediction: The whales reliably exchanged codas with one or two formants—frequency peaks in the sound wave—below the 10kHz range. The researchers termed these codas “vowels,” with single-formant codas being a-vowels and two-formant codas being i-vowels.

  • Jordan Pearson; Vice

Thank you for reading!

Email me at anna@interintellect.com.


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