Weekend 269.1 (…and all the rest)

“Art and religion (they are the same thing, in the end, of course) have given man the only happiness he has ever had.” – Willa Cather

(1) A Day in the Life of Ruzwana Bashir: The cofounder of travel concierge website peek.com is changing the way we see the world. (WSJ Magazine)

(2) A quote from Earthbound (The Bakerloo Line) by Paul Morley

“The year that the Bakerloo began, 1906, is an arbitrary chronological zone that can help make sense of various interactions and cross-fertilizations in art and science that happened to be around at the same time, suggesting there might actually be some greater reason for all this coincidence. There was the first emergence of a working mechanical television; the first radio broadcast of audio; the invention of a vacuum tube which would lead to electronic amplification. It’s when Freud’s theories of the unconscious began to earn wider recognition; when composer Arnold Schoenberg, protégé of Strauss and Mahler, was almost cruelly questioning traditional tonality; the year that 27-year-old Albert Einstein was promoted to the rank of technical assistant level II at the Swiss Federal Patent office, a year after his famous ‘miracle year’ when he published five papers that expressed how time and space, matter and energy, were locked together in the most astonishing embrace; when forty-year-old pianist, philosopher and composer Ferruccio Busoni was writing a manifesto called Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music, bemoaning the restrictions of traditional Western music, imagining a way beyond the limitations of notation, boldly advocating the use of electrical sound sources; and meanwhile the first authentic recording star, Enrico Caruso, had finessed his singing technique in the primitive, unamplified recording studios of the day, uncannily and clairvoyantly transferring something vocally intoxicating and theatrically persuasive to early, harsh and scratchy, quarter-inch-thick, fast-spinning 78 rpm gramophone recordings.”

(2a) The Year of Globalization: The year before World War I, the world enjoyed a peaceful productivity so dependent on international trade and cooperation that general war seemed impossible. (WSJ – Registration Required)

“In reality, when war came, it came out of a sky that had seemed cloudless to most people in the world, who knew almost nothing of war of any kind and had been raised to doubt that it could ever trouble them again. This is the world Mr. Emmerson describes—’as it might have looked through contemporary eyes, in its full colour and complexity, with a sense of the future’s openness.'”

“Like today, the world in 1913 enjoyed a peaceful productivity so dependent on international trade and cooperation that the impossibility of general war seemed the most conventional of wisdoms…Thanks to intercontinental telephone cables, transcontinental railway lines and faster oil-fired ships, the world had never seemed more connected and more frontier-less.”

(2b) The Romance of a Decaying World: Miklós Bánffy’s tale of the Austria-Hungarian empire in decline captures the charm and decadence of a doomed civilization. (WSJ – Registration Required)

“He shows how the prewar generation’s extravagance, snobbery and selfishness contrasts with the beauty of its surroundings. The great houses have libraries, but there is a sadness about how seldom they are consulted. Great importance is given to the trivia of sport, social scheming and clothes, including (for the men) a taste for English clothes that verges on madness.”

“The count thinks of how his generation had ‘drifted farther and farther away from the practical wisdom of their forebears. Reality had been gradually replaced by self-deception, conceit and sheer wrong-headed obstinacy. Everyone was guilty, all the upper strata of Hungarian society.’ He feels ‘as if he were looking back from beyond the grave.'”

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