See India Through Steve McCurry’s Lens

Steve McCurry’s India is the subject of a new show at the Rubin Museum of Art

Kaynak: See India Through Steve McCurry’s Lens

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Review: THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO MEDITATE by Yumi Sakugawa

Kaynak: Review: THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO MEDITATE by Yumi Sakugawa

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WRITING & READING, DEMOCRACY & DESPOTISM

Pandaemonium

13-11-05_MSA-ABS-LBN-A1

Two writers, two talks, two beautifully-expressed arguments about the writer and his or her responsibilities, to the reader, to the craft, to the world. The first is a talk that Philip Pullman gave at the World Humanist Congress in Oxford this summer. I was lucky enough to be in the Sheldonian Theatre to listen to it, a talk that was, as so few are, thoughtful, provocative, illuminating and inspiring all at the same time. It has been republished in the latest issue of New Humanist. When I listened to Pullman, there was a section on the relationship between the writer and the reader that particularly struck me. Re-reading it in New Humanist, it still does; so I am republishing that section here. The whole talk is worth reading, though, so do get the latest issue of New Humanist, for Philip Pullman, and much else.

The second talk was…

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Editors’ Picks of the Year: Notable Reads on WordPress.com

The WordPress.com Blog

Our editors dove into the archives to resurface top posts published on WordPress.com this year, from personal essays to comics, and photography to fiction. Here’s a glimpse of what you published — and what the community especially loved — in 2014.

“Ever Wished That Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson Would Return to the Comics Page? Well, He Just Did,” Stephan Pastis, Pearls Before Swine

“Bill Watterson is the Bigfoot of cartooning,” writes comic artist Stephan Pastis of the legendary Calvin and Hobbes creator. This summer, Pastis collaborated — in secret — with Watterson. Their awesome idea: Watterson would silently step in and draw Pastis’ comic strip, Pearls Before Swine, for a few days, pretending to be a second grader. Pastis recounts the experience, offering a rare glimpse of Bigfoot.

Pearls Before Swine; Stephan Pastis; June 4, 2014.Pearls Before Swine; Stephan Pastis; June 4, 2014.

“No Apology,” Mehreen Kasana

I will apologize for ISIS when every…

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So You Want to Be a Storyteller?

Sam S. Mullins: a blog about anything

Really? Even if people won’t want to date you ever again for fear that you’ll one day talk about them on stage? You’re sure?

Okay. Welcome aboard.

Here’s a cheap glass of wine. Where we’re going, you’ll need it.

I’ve got to tell you – I think you’ve picked a great time to get into the story game. I mean, with the success of storytelling podcasts like The Moth, RISK!, Definitely Not the Opera, Snap Judgement and This American Life millions of people are now aware of the phenomenon of modern storytelling. Just about every city in North America now has a regular storytelling event, and there seems to be more opportunities for storytellers than ever before. For raconteurs like us, the getting has never been good-er.

But before you start speaking your heart into the crackly microphone at the local roti place’s storytelling event (at which no one is there to actually hear stories [they’re just there…

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Love and hypocrisy in Iran

dianadarke

In Iran, they say, there are two books in every household  – the Koran and Hafez. One is read, the other is not.

To understand this joke you need do no more than join the millions who regularly throng the tomb of Hafez, 14th century poet of Shiraz and Iran’s national hero, as I did one recent afternoon.

Gardens surrounding the Tomb of Hafez, Shiraz Gardens surrounding the Tomb of Hafez, Shiraz

The atmosphere was buzzing, happy and relaxed – Iran at its best.

Day and night the tomb, raised up on a beautifully decorated dais surrounded by its own fragrant rose gardens, water channels and orange trees, is crowded with devotees stroking his alabaster sarcophagus, declaiming his verses, relishing his clever plays on words.

Alabaster sarcophagus of Hafez being stroked in reverence Alabaster sarcophagus of Hafez being stroked in reverence

Hafez represents all the rich complexities of the Iranian identity. His brilliant use of metaphors in their native Farsi language unites them.

But…

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Will “protected cultural zones” save heritage sites in Syria?

Gates of Nineveh: An Experiment in Blogging Assyriology

Earlier this month UNESCO held a major conference in Paris on cultural heritage destruction in Iraq and Syria. Headlining remarks by UNESCO director Irina Bokova emphasized that there is “no purely military solution” to the conflict and that bringing about peace will involve promoting ideological change. “To fight fanaticism, we also need to reinforce education, a defence against hatred, and protect heritage, which helps forge collective identity.”

To accomplish these ends, four ideas seem to have received prominent discussion:

1) Again emphasize the need to implement the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Properties in the Event of Armed Conflict, which has been raised by UNESCO before. The trouble is, there is pretty much zero motivation for any of the major actors on the ground in Syria to observe its stipulations.

2) Collect evidence for possible prosecution of people who intentionally destroy heritage sites as war…

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