10 Extremely Precise Words for Emotions You Didn’t Even Know You Had


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Normally, I would not recommend lists. But, then one-off exceptions are okay if the content is so good.

Torschlusspanik: Life is passing you by. The deadline’s approaching. The train’s a-comin’. Literally translated from German, torschlusspanik means “gate-closing panic,” a word to summarize that fretful sensation of time running out. It may serve you well, when experiencing this panicky emotion, to hesitate before allowing it to spur you toward impulsivity, and call to mind the German idiom Torschlusspanik ist ein schlechter Ratgeber— that is, “Torschlusspanik is a bad adviser.”

The complete article

Melissa Dahl — Science of Us

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Tagore and His India


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Today’s needull is rare, very rare. A Noble laureate writing about another laureate. Amartya Sen writes about Rabindranath Tagore, India’s first Nobel laureate.

The profoundly original writer, whose elegant prose and magical poetry Bengali readers know well, is not the sermonizing spiritual guru admired – and then rejected – in London. Tagore was not only an immensely versatile poet; he was also a great short story writer, novelist, playwright, essayist, and composer of songs, as well as a talented painter whose pictures, with their mixture of representation and abstraction, are only now beginning to receive the acclaim that they have long deserved. His essays, moreover, ranged over literature, politics, culture, social change, religious beliefs, philosophical analysis, international relations, and much else. The coincidence of the fiftieth anniversary of Indian independence with the publication of a selection of Tagore’s letters by Cambridge University Press 3, brought Tagore’s ideas and reflections to the fore, which makes it important to examine what kind of leadership in thought and understanding he provided in the Indian subcontinent in the first half of this century.

The complete article

Amartya Sen

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Literary Desire


In this review of Rita Felski’s The Limits of Critiquethe author looks at contemporary literary criticism.

Felski asks what might happen if we looked not “behind the text” but “in front of the text, reflecting on what it unfurls, calls forth, makes possible.” In doing so, she seeks to rehabilitate the validity and importance of what we might call “literary desire”: the force that drives you to reread your favorite book yet again; or to finish that work of genre fiction even when you know the ending; or to press a beloved book awkwardly into a distant acquaintance’s hands in hopes that she, too, will come to love what you love and might one day talk with you about it.

First Things

Painting by Brianna Keeper

An Ex-Bollywood Actress Challenges Indian Stereotypes With Her Debut Novel


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An interesting novel, based in Delhi and Gurgaon about the insecurities of wealthy Indian upper middle class.

Set in present day New Delhi, The Windfall begins as the Jha family comes into wealth, after Mr. Jha sells a phone directory website to an American company for $20 million (although his son Rupak, studying for an MBA in upstate New York, ruefully notes that the company is now worth $200 million). With their new cash influx, the Jhas decide to move from their small East Delhi flat in a compound of tight-knit (and nosy) neighbors to a sprawling modern house in the shiny new suburb of Gurgaon, replete with lawns, private golf clubs, and a guard in front of every iron gate.

The complete article

Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite — Elle

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It Gets Wetter


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Today’s needull looks at Kim Stanley Robinson’s new book New York 2140. The writer looks at how climate change will affect New York and how might the city look then.

It’s a novel scene—New York City, 123 years from now: half-drowned but not out. Still a capital of real estate, still a political powerhouse, still an unequal battleground between finance and housing movements, still a crucible where capitalism and climate politics are smashed, melted, and twisted together. The (true) physical premise is that upper Manhattan is fifty feet higher than lower Manhattan.

The complete article

Daniel Aldana Cohen — Dissent

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The Fate of the Critic in the Age of Clickbait


Do Twitter and Facebook spell the end of the critic?

Criticism of any kind is increasingly unwelcome at the digital-age paper. Consider a controversy that flared up in Canada last year. Arthur Kaptainis, who had long been the critic of the Montreal Gazette and more recently had been writing freelance for the National Post, reviewed a Canadian Opera Company production of Rossini’s “Maometto II.” The Canadian Opera asked for a couple of corrections, whereupon the Post took the bizarre step of removing the review from its Web site. Amid the resulting hubbub, a Post arts editor was quoted in an e-mail: “I really hate running reviews for performing arts. They simply get no attention online, and almost always end up as our poorest performing pieces of digital content.” The same mantra is heard at culture sections across America. Reviews don’t catch eyeballs. They don’t “move the needle.”

The logic seems irrefutable. Why publish articles that almost nobody wants? On closer examination, some shaky assumptions underlie these hard-nosed generalizations. First, digital data, in the form of counting clicks and hits, give an incomplete picture of reading habits. Those who subscribe to the print edition are discounted—and they tend to be older people, who are also more likely to follow the performing arts. A colleague wrote to me, “The four thousand people reading your theatre critics might be extremely loyal subscribers who press the paper on others. People in power often speak of ‘engagement’ and ‘valued readers,’ yet they still remain in thrall of the big click numbers—because of advertising, mostly.”

The New Yorker

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Love Story


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Found a needull on the love story of another great writer – J.R.R. Tolkein. While we remember Tolkein’s books for the magical world he creates there, there are some slivers of romance in his writings too.

As Christopher Tolkien writes in his preface, these two lovers were very close to his father’s heart. He wrote their tale after returning from World War I, in 1917. Beren falls in love with the beautiful Lúthien after seeing her dance in a glade filled with hemlocks, just as Tolkien’s wife Edith had danced for him. “In a letter to me on the subject of my mother,” Christopher Tolkien writes, “written in the year after her death, which was also the year before his own, he wrote of his overwhelming sense of bereavement, and of his wish to have Lúthien inscribed beneath her name on the grave.” Tolkien and Edith now rest under gravestones with the names of each lover engraved beneath their own, side by side.

The complete article

Josephine Livingstone — New Republic

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