Spiders, Archeology and Brain Confetti

¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Doesn’t it feel great to be a completely reborn human with perfect habits, unbroken willpower, and a rosy look to the future? Doesn’t that describe you? Not me either.

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions, but on January 4th, I had the bright idea to microwave a day-old croissant for 20 seconds, and the result was transformative enough that I decided to make it again after a little while. Let’s call this my 2022 resolution and let’s get to the books.


“After a while I began to feel an uncomfortable sense of being observed. I am very sensitive to observation and I often experience this feeling not only in the presence of people but also in the presence of small animals. In fact, I once traced its source to a large spider whose mysterious eyes were staring at me. In my experience, the spider is the smallest creature whose gaze can be felt.”

I would like to stop here with a simple explanation: “After reading the above quote, you should know if you want to spend 250 pages with the architect of such a statement.” But I will continue. The observer’s name is Jake and he is a young schemer who wanders around London causing problems and forming a corner of a love rectangle. “Under the Net” was the first novel produced by Iris Murdoch, a certified graphoman and philosopher, whose many books are typically not as concise and funny as this book – so if you’re a Murdoch buff, it’s a good place to start.

The quality of his novels varies in exciting ways, but they’re all brimming with existential insights and devastating comments on marriage, with characters saying things like, “In short, my life is ruined.” Also, in one book, a man’s hair is described as “dark auburn”. I’ve been thinking about this for years.

Read if you want: David Lodge, quirks, dating disaster, “The Rachel Papers” by Martin Amis
Available from: Penguin Random House (also widely available at used bookstores!)

Imagine an ancient Roman bowing in anger over a thin sheet of lead, writing a devotional curse on it, and then folding it like a taquito and dropping it into a well or a tomb. This practice – the creation of “damn tablets” – is a well-documented phenomenon, and photos and translations of the tablets are available online. One characteristic example I’ve found is composed of two separate curses directed against a greengrocer named Babylas, composed in the third or fourth century. The nameless curser begs the gods to “strangle and cool the soul” of the “lawless and heathen” greengrocer, fill him with “evil misfortune” and kill all his animals. (One must wonder: What did Babylas do? make?!)

I learned this antiquated form of trolling from “The Latinist,” a novel about academic mischief among Oxford classicists. It would take me a single night to read the book, but I kept chasing tempting bits of information, from coliambic poems to amputation practices of the past. A cleverly planned adventure about an American student caught in the machinations of his malevolent mentor – a tale of passion, suspense and archeology. (I call it the “triple threat”!)

Read if you want: “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (book or movie), “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt, chess, campus novels
Available from: WWII Norton

  • Experience the bursting sensation of your brain RAINBOW CONFETTI Together memory of unique innovation and mastery?

  • Put on your most woolly cardigan and face it FREEZING COLD of the aphorisms and essays By EM Cioran?

  • the start is yours AGATHA CHRISTIE career hereIf you haven’t tasted the warm flavors of this mysterious master? Do not read anything about the book before you begin. Not a word. (A number of Christie novels are also publicly available to read for free.)

  • EVERY MUSCLE RED ON YOUR BODY AT THE SAME TIME (out of curiosity, not for medical reasons) like you Join three young people in a jihadist training camp On the outskirts of Mosul?

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