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Standpoint Magazine: Viennese rooms with a point of view

“Austria comes alive on my divan,” said Berta Zuckerkandl, and this was an understatement. An influential journalist and art critic, Zuckerkandl welcomed everybody from Auguste Rodin and Gustav Klimt to Arthur Schnitzler at her home. There, she promoted their work, found them buyers and introduced them to the luminaries of the day. “Hail to the most marvellous and witty woman in Vienna,” Johann Strauss is … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Viennese rooms with a point of view

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Times Literary Supplement: Does philosophy have to be obscure?

I recently went to a public lecture at LSE hosted by the Forum for European Philosophy. The discussion was entitled “Does philosophy have to be obscure?” It struck me as a bit odd that both possible responses presume that philosophy is indeed obscure. If we understand “obscure” as “unclearly expressed” or “not easily understood”, so many things seem more obscure – Facebook’s terms of agreement, say, or … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: Does philosophy have to be obscure?

Standpoint Magazine: New way to tell a terrible story

The most famous graphic book about the Holocaust is Maus by Art Spiegelman. Jews are drawn as mice, Germans as cats, and Poles as pigs in what is the compelling and heartbreaking story of Spiegelman’s father surviving the Holocaust. It’s drawn with virtuoso skill, and in 1992 it became the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize. Graphic novels continue to draw on that … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: New way to tell a terrible story

Jewish Chronicle: Found and Lost review

Notting Hill Editions was launched in 2011 to revive the art of essay writing, producing elegant, small books containing such subject matter as Deborah Levy’s response to George Orwell’s Why I Write. Now, they have widened the format, with Alison Leslie Gold’s Found and Lost. Gold is best known for co-writing Anne Frank Remembered with Miep Gies, who helped hide Anne Frank and her family … Continue reading Jewish Chronicle: Found and Lost review

Standpoint Magazine: Tunnel Vision

Winston Churchill’s half-smoked cigar sold for $12,000 at a US auction in October. A hand-written note by Albert Einstein on the topic of happiness (“a quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest,” he wrote) went for $1.5 million in Jerusalem. In London, Audrey Hepburn’s iconic blue satin sleep mask was bought for £6,250, some 50 times … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Tunnel Vision

Jewish Chronicle: The Attack of the 50ft Women – Driving on equality street

At first glance, The Attack of the 50ft Women, by Catherine Mayer, looks like a sequel to Naomi Alderman’s Baileys Prize-winning novel, The Power, about women gaining physical power over men, which in turn echoes some aspects of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian fantasy classic, A Handmaid’s Tale. But, far from being a fantasy, this hard-hitting, non-fiction book shows how dystopian our reality still is for women … Continue reading Jewish Chronicle: The Attack of the 50ft Women – Driving on equality street

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Standpoint Magazine: Ironies of Ideology

On a recent visit to the Royal Academy, I noticed a tall, elegantly dressed man who spent quite some time admiring a square object attached to the wall. I wondered whether to tell him that far from being Russian avant-garde art, which was the theme of the exhibition, it was in fact the temperature and humidity control box. Many visitors to Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Ironies of Ideology

Times Literary Supplement: Of lesbians and constipation

Public opinion on journalists has always been influenced by how they – or should I say we – are represented in novels, films and popular culture. In her PhD-thesis-turned-book, Sarah Lonsdale traces fictional and real journalists throughout the twentieth century. From swashbuckling Edwardian alcoholics with “special ink for hot countries which would not dry up” to the post-war alienated outsider, Lonsdale analyses how journalists have … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: Of lesbians and constipation

Standpoint Magazine: A diaspora of pain and joy

In this, his first novel, Gerald Jacobs takes us to the Baghdad of the early 20th century, where Jews made up a quarter of the population, and lived amicably alongside the city’s Arab population. Immediately, we are reminded of the timeless traditions and idiosyncrasies of Jewish communities. One protagonist eats non-kosher meat, then “prays for a forgiveness to the God in whose existence he did … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: A diaspora of pain and joy

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The Economist’s 1843: The malleability of our minds

A new show about consciousness takes a terrifying look at how scientists, philosophers and artists deal with “the hard problem” In the 17th century, Descartes famously argued that the body and mind are two different things. Philosophers have been discussing the difference ever since, and this “mind-body problem” is far from solved. Today, science is still struggling to explain how our soggy grey brains give rise to the … Continue reading The Economist’s 1843: The malleability of our minds