The high-literary surrealism of Dino Buzzati

It seems to me, fantasy should be as close as possible to journalism. The right word is not "banalizing", although in fact a little of this is involved. Rather, I mean that the effectiveness of a fantastic story will depend on its being told in the most simple and practical terms. Dino Buzzati (1906-1972) was …

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In the Beginning: a bird’s eye history of religion

In the beginning was the crisis. This is the singular belief that defines the religious history of our species, the insistence that this world, full of suffering -- where the race goes not to the swift nor bread to the hungry -- cannot be all there is, that there must be something more: a just …

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The X-rated architecture of Jean-Jacques Lequeu (NSFW)

Later this year, the Petit Palais in Paris will host an exhibition on one of the most enigmatic and little-known figures in architecture, Jean-Jacques Lequeu (1757-1825), whose fanciful, unorthodox, yet exactingly illustrated designs were just as grandiose as his contemporary (and better known) archrivals Etienne-Louis Boullee (1728-99) and Claude-Nicholas Ledoux (1736-1806). (Boullee's cenotaph to Newton …

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Why hit songs sound the same

The data visualists over at The Pudding have put together a fascinating analysis of pop music going back to the 1950s using an eight-point measure originally developed at MIT. From the article: In 2005, Tristan Jehan, a PhD student at MIT, published his dissertation, “Creating Music By Listening,” a framework for AI-created music. The immediate …

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Ten Depictions of the Cosmos

Depictions of the universe, variously defined. List of figures: Cosmological Mandala with Mount Meru. China. Yuan Dynasty (circa 1300) l'Image du Monde by Gautier du Metz (1245) Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer (1785) Sphaera Coelestis Mystica (1739) plate 7 by Johann Georg Hagelgans Lokapurusha (Cosmic Man), Rajasthan (circa 19th cent.) Sheppard's Geographical and Astronomical Clock (circa …

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