“Our great poet forever has one foot on Mount Parnassus and the other in the rue Quincampoix,” the Wall Street of eighteenth-century Paris. On how Voltaire outsmarted one of the earliest lotteries and made a fortune. Also check out how Goethe became an amateur auction theorist.
The new book by Alain de Botton, How to Think More About Sex, addresses exactly what you’d think it would based on a glance at its title. According to de Botton, the word “sexy,” at base, refers to people or things which mimic our deeply-held values. At Brain Pickings, you can read more excerpts.
This week, Football Book Club will be reading Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright and posting essays about Brain Fever by Kimiko Hahn — its selection from last week — and life without the NFL. Going Clear was a National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and has been turned into a documentary by HBO.
In a 6,000 word essay for The Point, founding editor Jon Baskin wades into the personal and professional psychodrama of the Franzen–Wallace friendship. Beneath the public surface, finds deep questions about the “novel of the self,” the “novel of society,” and the life worth living.
Freudians know that Eros and Thanatos are opposites in the human psyche. The former, the love instinct, pushes us to survive, while the latter, the death instinct, pushes us to destruction. In an essay for Bookslut, Jelena Markovic explores the importance of Thanatos in daily life, using as an example a man she knew with an “instinct for nonexistence.”