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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Why Humans Find It Hard To Do Away With Religion, by John Gray, New Statesman

The new atheists decry religion as a poisonous set of lies. But what if a belief in the supernatural is natural?

Killings, by Daniel Wallace, The Bitter Southerner

I cut its head off with a hatchet, the way people do. This chicken was the first thing I’d ever set out to kill, that I’d planned to kill over the course of many months, and the truth is it was weird, exciting, and sad. I didn’t kill it to eat (though it was eventually eaten, in a soup); I didn’t kill it because it was a troublemaking chicken (though it was a troublemaking chicken); and I didn’t kill it because it deserved to die (whatever that means). I killed it because I’d never killed a chicken before and I wanted to have that experience on my list of things I’d done, sort of like going to Venice, to be able to say, as I’m saying now, I killed a chicken.

‘A Very Sadistic Man’, by Janet Malcolm, New York Review of Books

In the introduction to his book, Bate—who is a professor of English literature at Oxford and the author of numerous books on Shakespeare, along with a biography of John Clare—offers a “cardinal rule” of literary biography: “The work and how it came into being is what is worth writing about, what is to be respected. The life is invoked in order to illuminate the work; the biographical impulse must be at one with the literary-critical.” And: “The task of the literary biographer is not so much to enumerate all the available facts as to select those outer circumstances and transformative moments that shape the inner life in significant ways.” But these fine words—are just fine words.

Yuki Chan In Brontë Country By Mick Jackson Review – A Tale Of Cultural Difference And Clairvoyance, by Miranda France, The Guardian

It is brave for a middle-aged male Lancastrian to put himself into the mind of a young Japanese woman, and to bring such disparate elements as clairvoyance, cultural difference and the Brontës together in a story. Yuki can be very funny when negotiating unfamiliar aspects of British life. If those elements don’t add up to a sustaining narrative, they do make for an enjoyable adventure in Brontëland and a novel that is beguilingly odd. And you have to admire a writer whose imagination can run as rampant as Heathcliff out on the moors.

Is France's Unloved AZERTY Keyboard Heading For The Scrapheap?, by Hugh Schofield, BBC

France's 100 year-old AZERTY keyboard - the equivalent of the English-language QWERTY - is to be reconfigured after the government ruled that it encourages bad writing.

Cotard’s Delusion, by Elisa Karbin