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The pleasure of reading recipes

(Photo: Corbis)

(Photo: Corbis)

The best arts and culture reads, including a spam robot’s moving poetry, the art of the phony and an interview with novelist Imre Kertész.

Art of the phony
Charles Hope | New York Review of Books | 5 August 2013
The modern concept of forgery in fine art is a product of the market in fine art. “There is no clear evidence that art forgeries as such existed in the ancient world. There were plenty of collectors, but they seem to have found copies just as desirable as originals”. In the early middle ages, the most coveted images were religious icons: “What mattered about objects such as these was whether they worked miracles.”     

Happy birthday, @Horse_ebooks
Adrienne LaFrance | Medium | 6 August 2013
If you know what @Horse_ebooks is, then read on with delight. If not, you’ll probably find the piece somewhere between silly and baffling. As the writer says: “Serious evaluation of a spam robot’s tweets may seem counterintuitive.” But, as she goes on to say: “Horse is simultaneously meaningless and meaningful, wildly surreal yet deeply existential”. A bot is producing “some of the most moving poetry of our age.”

The Art of fiction: Imre Kertész
Luisa Zielinski | Paris Review | 5 August 2013
Hungarian Nobel-prize-winning novelist (and Auschwitz survivor), 85 and dying of Parkinson’s disease, gives his last interview. “I created a work representing the Holocaust as such, but without this being an ugly literature of horrors. Perhaps I’m being impertinent, but I feel that my work has a rare quality — I tried to depict the human face of this history, I wanted to write a book that people would actually want to read.”  

Cheating as moral imperative in video games
Michael Thomsen | Fanzine | 1 August 2013
“What’s fun about video games is not the winning and the losing, but the relief that comes with obedience. In this light, cheating is the only ethical action one can take in a game, forcing play to be a consideration of the rules themselves and not an obedient exploration of how to best follow them. Cheaters are not enemies of game culture but an essential group whose persistence should be embraced.”   

What is the Icelandic word for “four”?
Daniel Tammet | Slate | 3 July 2013
How different languages and cultures deal with numbers. ‘Four’ in Icelandic is fjórir, if you mean the numeral four. But fjórar, if you are talking about sheep. And fjögurra if you mean a four-year-old child. “My friends in Reykjavík talk about birthdays and buses and pairs of jeans but, unlike in English, in Icelandic these things each require their own set of number words.” In English, a number is a category; in Icelandic it is a quality.

The hole in our collective memory
Rebecca Rosen | Atlantic | 30 July 2013
Copyright is the enemy of knowledge. Books fall out of circulation at the whim of publishers. “Shortly after works are created and proprietized, they tend to disappear from public view only to reappear in significantly increased numbers when they fall into the public domain and lose their owners. There are substantially more new editions available of books from the 1910s than from the 2000s.”  

Pleasures of reading recipes
Bee Wilson | New Yorker | 29 July 2013
Entrancing review of William Sitwell’s new book, A History of Food in 100 Recipes, which starts with a recipe for ancient Egyptian bread found on a tomb in Luxor, and ends with Meat Fruit, a recipe for liver parfait dipped in mandarin jelly and shaped to look like an orange, from Heston Blumenthal. “Until the eighteenth century, recipes as a genre are not really like our recipes at all. They are instructions for servants.”   

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