Review: Anya von Bremzen (2023) National Dish

"Focusing on iconic dishes from Paris, Naples, Tokyo, Seville, Oaxaca, and Istanbul von Bremzen attempts to bring light rather than the usual heat to the concept of a national dish in a globalized world where surprisingly nationalism is resurgent. She doesn’t to her credit pretend that stories about a few dishes from six countries provide a comprehensive account of the productive tension between national and world cuisine, although a sequel covering other national cuisines is acknowledged as a live possibility. A first principles approach to the question of theorising the national dish shows even a book covering every existing national cuisine is not up to the task. This is because—as von Bremzen acknowledges—the constitutive concepts of nation and national culinary identity are themselves of recent vintage and subject to ongoing negotiation; they are open to influence from actors at home and abroad."

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Read more about the article Words Vanquish Swords Again
Rushdie's 15th Novel Victory City is a triumphant return to form

Words Vanquish Swords Again

In the final section Pampa Kampana, coming to terms with the decline of the Vijayanagar empire, reflects that “words are the only victors.” Rushdie is alive to that scruple and will not let the moralising impulse detract from the power of words. Let those who want to learn something from fiction be content to be entertained and edified. Those who, like humourless ayatollahs, can’t manage this are ineducable.

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David Sedaris’ Tips for Humour Writing

Anybody can be a storyteller and a humourist because interesting things happen to everyone, and there is humour to be found in almost every indignity. “Everything’s funny eventually” says Sedaris, and he must know as he’s able to laugh about having a flexible metal tube inserted into his urethral meatus as part of a medical screening for cancer.

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Read more about the article Review: Indra Nooyi (2021) My Life in Full: Work, Family, & Our Future. Portfolio/Penguin
Indra K. Nooyi (2021)

Review: Indra Nooyi (2021) My Life in Full: Work, Family, & Our Future. Portfolio/Penguin

For her meteoric rise to be a satisfying story the rags-to-riches-heroine needs to start from a position of complete destitution. Put her in a middle class home with its usual opportunities, joys, disappointments, and brushes with tragedy, and then even her rise to the presidency of the United States is immediately less interesting. This story arc can only be rescued from narrative indifference if she’s a colourful personality, someone perpetrating incredible hijinks, always getting into capers which strain our moral muscles but from which we come away with her stronger rather than broken. None of this true of the story of Indra K. Nooyi’s life; it has neither a rags to riches trajectory nor the emotional heft of a tale worth the telling. It is fitting that this stylized ledger of Nooyis deeds, personal and professional, is delivered in a monotone, grocery list, register. The troughs and peaks are equally unremarkable in the treatment they receive, and the ending is clear right at the start. Indra Nooyi was born, she worked hard, and with a little luck she succeeded.

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Read more about the article Jaipur Literature Festival Toronto 2021: Marcus du Sautoy on Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut
Toronto Vibe Watercolour by Cain S. Pinto

Jaipur Literature Festival Toronto 2021: Marcus du Sautoy on Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut

Marcus du Sautoy talks about mathematics as the art of the shortcut, promoting his latest book at the Jaipur Literature Festival Toronto 2021.

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Read more about the article Jaipur Literature Festival Toronto 2021: Najwa Zebian & Shashi Bhat on the Self as Safe-Space
Watercolour by Cain S. Pinto

Jaipur Literature Festival Toronto 2021: Najwa Zebian & Shashi Bhat on the Self as Safe-Space

A home within needs to be a 5 room independent house with a garden, Zebian says; this is a floor plan for what you deserve not what you can afford. In a world saturated by manuals for washing your penis, Bhat’s fables seem less propagandistic.

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Overcoming Adorno’s Aesthetic Critique

Adorno observes in his posthumous opus Aesthetic Theory: “It is self-evident that nothing concerning art is self-evident anymore” (2). Adorno’s pessimism about art in his time and ours arguably presupposes a problematic definition of art and artistic merit. In what follows I’ll rehearse his arguments, give a charitable gloss of considerations which lead him to his position, and argue that they are consequences of his subscription to something like the institutional theory of art. I’ll then present Levinson’s historical theory of art as a sound alternative to the institutional theory of art, develop an evaluative framework for assessing artistic merit, and show it is compatible with Adorno’s attitudes towards art while being immune to problems he identifies with the prospects of art in his time and ours.

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