Re: Tom Stoppard has a new play out

1

Oh, apparently the play is two years old. Whatever. It was new to me.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 12:44 AM
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Longue durée, Ben. Two years is but a blink of an eye.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 12:57 AM
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re: 1

Yeah, the UK production got very good reviews, iirc. I'd imagine laughably bad English accents weren't a problem in that production.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 12:59 AM
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It hasn't really premiered until I have seen it.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 1:11 AM
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I'm still bitter we'll never get to see his version of The Golden Compass.


Posted by: Rottin' in Denmark | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 1:59 AM
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Do you ever notice an element of boosterism in theater reviews? The last three plays I've seen (all in London, if that means anything) have been aggressively, objectively mediocre, and I was convinced to see all of them by unanimous good reviews. Sometimes I get the feeling the reviewers are like your dad trying to get you to go to a hockey game ('C'mon, you'll like it!') for its own sake rather than reflecting actual enthusiasm for the product.


Posted by: Rottin' in Denmark | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 2:02 AM
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re: 6

I don't know. I don't go to a lot of theatre in London, but a couple of the things I've really liked -- a couple of the Globe productions, for example* -- got fairly mediocre reviews.

Perhaps new plays by established authors get more boosterism?

* I try to go to a couple most years, and some have been merely average, but a couple of the ones I've seen which I rated highest didn't get great reviews.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 2:07 AM
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If you go again, avoid Neil LaBute's 'Fat Pig'. A two hour play with about eight minutes worth of plot. Plus distractingly American accents. Yet the papers were like 'it's a scorcher!'

Meanwhile, this clip
http://rottenindenmark.vox.com/library/post/just-because-my-brother-and-my-parents-read-this-blog.html

Is making me want to splurge on Les Mis tickets next time I go...


Posted by: Rottin' in Denmark | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 2:21 AM
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i like how he wrote that 'The truth is always a compound of two half-truths, and you never reach it, because there is always something more to say.'" (Our Greatest Writers), nice, feels like if i thought that
so i've read Tom Stoppard's biography and it reminded me my theory of the displacement gene of extraordinarity
so the thought is in order to achieve some level of extraordinarity one needs to be displaced to get the sufficient amount of misfit or otherwise bewilderment to external situations to activate the gene contributing to the traits of extraordinarity
there are many examples of that phenomenon, Beckett for example or Pushkin or Gautama, many Jewish geniuses, if you read Gumilev there is a page of just names of their prominent people whom i'd like to consider our displacees
maybe America achieved its superpower status owing to that too, the land of immigrants, all the displaceds from Europe and Africa, other continents
i'm pretty displaced myself, but i won't achieve any high level of extraordinarity coz
the displacement should be complete without turning back and the extraordinarity reveals itself usually in the second generation or further down
so this displacement method of activation of that gene could be used as a treatment of autism or in other clinical conditions, maybe it could delay dementia if to prescribe people immigration in their old age :)
i remember i read that external stimulations like reading together or engaging in physical activity helps with the gene expression responsible for the normal social functioning (or maybe it was a gene responsible for autism and it got downregulated) of autistic children, just reading and there was found a difference in the gene expression, forgot the name of the gene
it couldn't be that i just had a dream about reading about that study


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 6:54 AM
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9 is rather a tour-de-force.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 7:33 AM
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I think that read's theory is part of some theories of American success -- the people who immigrated to the US included the more talented, adventurous and restless people from the countries of emigration.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 7:36 AM
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It also reminds me of the theory that Hungarians -- given their level of achievement in intellectual pursuits -- must be aliens. There are plenty of counter-examples, of course. Kafka was maybe displaced within his own head, but not otherwise, and plenty of immigrants have fucked things up. I think there is more likely something prosaically true that immigrants, because they're isolated and the stakes are higher, work their asses off. Also, possibly, that those who can find success in a foreign land are likely to be pretty exceptional generally, or at least have the confidence to see themselves that way.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 7:38 AM
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Kinda pwned. I also, frankly, worry about large scale forced displacement of the demented and the autistic, but hey I'll try anything once.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 7:40 AM
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sorry, i thought you were mocking me
please, win the puzzler thread :)


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 7:41 AM
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Sifu, when they come for the demented and autistic, we'll shelter you in our attic.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 8:04 AM
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The father of Crooked Timber's Eszter Hargittai wrote a book about weird Nobel-quality Hungarian scientists.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 8:10 AM
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re: 12

Hungarians? Mere Johnny-come-lately amateurs compared to the Scots.*

* I'm half-kidding, but really, there's an impression that people have that Hungary is super-special in this regard?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 8:33 AM
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"Start Me Up", which evidently no one involved in the play's writing or production associates, as I do, indelibly with Windows 95.

Really?!?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 8:34 AM
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If you substitute 'outsider' for 'displaced' in read's theory I'm willing to buy it. People who are outside the mainstream of their social environment can take fewer things for granted and therefore are more likely to see opportunities and have insights that others overlook. One of the things that social norms and stereotypes do is provide mental shortcuts - the outsider has to think things through, rather than relying on these shortcuts, which requires constant expenditure of mental effort. Brain exercise, sort of.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 8:41 AM
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We're not talking about ba', ttaM. It's Science we're talking about.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 8:49 AM
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Really?!?

I know, right? ben was apparently a very impressionable six-year old.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 8:53 AM
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Don't be jealous, ttaM. I'm sure Scots are smart too.

Erdos was Hungarian, but he was normal in every way.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 8:55 AM
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re: 20

Well that's what I meant. There's a cluster of half a dozen or so really great theoretical physicists/mathematicians in the early/mid 20th century but the list of Hungarian discoveries, looking at Wikipedia, really doesn't look freakishly amazing.

It's not unimpressive, it's just not 'oh my god, how can we explain this?' odd. Especially when placed in the context of the generally high standard of science being done in Germany and the (former) Austro-Hungarian countries in the first 30 or 40 years of the 20th century.



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 8:56 AM
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'my' theory has nothing common with nazi's theories of superiority
i'd like to add like specifically
it's not about race or nationality, it's about some powerful impulse of displacement, Gautama for example got displaced just stepping outside his palace gates and encountering real life


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 9:07 AM
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Read, like I keep saying, write a book. You've been displaced 2 or 3 times by now. I'm not teasing you.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 9:10 AM
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the


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 9:11 AM
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with some displaced articles?


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 9:12 AM
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23: The Wikipedia page is amusing. That "the Hungarian educational system was superior to the American" is flagged as "dubious" and the suggestion that the Hungarians were perceived to be of superhuman intelligence is flagged with "citation needed" and "unreliable source".

I guess the list is ambiguous; Hargittai's book includes von Neumann. Probably he's the most impressive of the list, although it's hard to overestimate Wigner's impact on modern physics.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 9:13 AM
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re: 28

Yeah, there's a couple of impressive figures on Hargittai's list. But it's not like you couldn't do the same thing for several other smallish European countries; picking out either continuous histories of innovation, or particular clusters of 'greats' or both. There's nothing out of the ordinary about it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 9:18 AM
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Interestingly, most of the Hungarians were Jewish. From what I've read, Jews before WWI were quite willing to think of themselves as patriotic citizens of whichever nation they were in (the Jewish grandfather of a friend won an Iron Cross in WWI), and after the breakup of Austria-Hungary many would have been willing to be patriots in the new nations. (Ernest Gellner testifies to this, regarding his father and Czechoslovakia). But the logic of nationalism (and fascism) did not allow this.

In Russia around 1880, German Jews were often thought of as Germans, and anti-Semitism seemed to apply especially to Polish or Lithuanian Jews. (It didn't help, Russians didn't like Germans either. It was a meta-question: they were hated qua what?)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 9:20 AM
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My angle on Hargittai's list is that we should be looking at the influence on Austria-Hungary on modern culture. A-H was a bizarre, inefficient feudal relic, but it (and its relics) played a cultural role fully on a par with modernized nations like France, England, Germany, and the U.S.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 9:32 AM
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re: 31

I suppose, although pretty much all of the cultural influence comes out of two or three extremely modern cities: Vienna, Prague and Budapest. While the A-H empire may have had a lot of quirky feudal stuff going on, these cities weren't exactly cultural backwaters.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 9:36 AM
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Hurricane! Hurricane! Well, at least a little rain for now but I could lose power or get blown to Oz any minute.

Poor guy was never able to match "Real Inspector Hound" 60s ya know. Bad drugs, loud music, and futile politics. Coulda been a contender.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 9:45 AM
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I don't mean to sound negative, btw. The influence that central Europe had during the fin de siècle period is interesting.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 9:46 AM
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29: I agree that it's not out of the ordinary in the sense that you can find other examples of small nations having large influence. But, as you say in 34, the people involved and the milieu that allowed this outsize influence to develop are certainly interesting.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 9:55 AM
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Add Trieste, several small Polish cities, some lesser Czechoslovak cities, and parts of Yugoslavia.

Politically, the whole A-H empire was strictly, non-metaphorically feudal. Economically and culturally it was quite advanced in some areas.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 9:56 AM
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Essear, the Scots are touchy about this shit.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 9:58 AM
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Hungarian Proverbs :

Ha egy disznót tanítsz énekelni, talán majd az énekkarhoz akar csatlakozni.
> If you teach a pig to sing then it may wish to join the choir.

Egy rosszul etetett juh az ördög harmonikája.
> An under-fed goat is the devil's harmonium.

Egy égett zsiráfnak nincs szüksége egy periszkópra.
> A scalded giraffe needs no periscope.

A zsebben lévö rák egyenlö egy csípéssel a fenékre.
> A lobster in the pocket is worth a nip on the buttocks.

A részeg denevér néha hátrafelé repül.
> A drunken bat will sometimes fly backwards.

Sose ne vadássz bálnát egy lekvárüveggel.
> Never fish for whales in a jam jar.

Ma tök, holnap mókus ebédje.
> Today an acorn, tomorrow a squirrel's dinner.

Élet végéig nehéz munkát a lónak, néhány napig finom húst a macskának.
> A life of hard work for the carthorse,
> a plate of fine mince for the cat


Posted by: joel hanes | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 10:52 AM
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Today an acorn, tomorrow a squirrel's dinner.

Nice.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 10:57 AM
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ttaM I think the chief answer to your question is that Hungarian jews specifically played a huge role in the revolutions in physics in the early 20th century, a series of innovations which play an outsize role in the history 20th century conflict (because of the bomb) and the narrative of late-20th century humanities scholars (because of the overlap with the birth of aesthetic modernism).

So, yeah, no actual there there, but it's a theory a lot of people find appealing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 11:01 AM
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14: No no! The ToS has to win the puzzler thread.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 11:09 AM
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A scalded giraffe needs no periscope.

I don't get this one.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 11:12 AM
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Not good enough, Sifu. You were supposed to praise the Scots.

Heebie, have you ever seen a giraffe penis?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 11:19 AM
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JAMES CLERK MAXWELL WAS THE GREATEST EVER AND NO HUNGARIAN COULD EVER COMPARE TO HIS GREAT GREATNESS


Posted by: OPINIONATED SCOTS-PRAISER | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 11:23 AM
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yeah, yeah, let him win too if it's possible
it's really sorry to see everytime how he gets deleted and i think his comments are getting less abusive and like more on the topic as far as i can tell, maybe he's just a harmless absurdist


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 11:25 AM
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Oh no, he's not harmless. I just thought that since there was finally a thread here that can actually be "won", once he "wins" something he will see his work as done.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 11:37 AM
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Sifu is by no means and in no way harmless, read. Trust us!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 11:45 AM
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Yglesias on Greenwald:

And I've come to see that the people, the really big time reporters, aren't like that. I think that people who get into the campaign coverage business, and are well-intentioned, quickly find out that it's a rotten to the core enterprise, and wind up leaving, and the only people who make it to the top are, they're sociopaths of some kind. And I'm trying to understand what it is we can do as effective pressure points.

I'm liking him better and better.

Sociopaths? Hm, my ex-brother-in-law could use a little extra cash.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 12:00 PM
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Heh.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 12:12 PM
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49: That story illustrates yet another consequence of Orwellian names like "Future Combat Systems"—built-in ambiguity you can bend to the narrative.

Maybe they'll begin calling wasteful pork programs things like Yomama. "Obama wants to cut Yo Mama!"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 12:39 PM
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Heebie, have you ever seen a giraffe penis?

Emerson, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 12:44 PM
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Do they have lots of giraffe penises in them?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 12:47 PM
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"Republicans say the Democratic candidate's plan to eliminate funding for Lance Armstrong shows that he is out of step with the nation, while Democrats claim he was referring to the Lance Armstrong Agricultural Subsidies Upward Readjustment Program that was passed into law last year. Either way, it's seen as a gaffe for the Democrats."


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 12:48 PM
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Do they have lots of giraffe penises in them?

Fewer than your mom does. HEY-O!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 12:50 PM
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ZING POW!


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 12:51 PM
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I sense deep self hatred, with a side of giraffe penis.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 12:59 PM
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FP 250: JP I need this truck.

Oh, I'm sorry how selfish of me.

This is now the Let Sifu Win/Friday Puzzler! Auxiliary Thread.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 2:03 PM
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See the way I think about it is, if there's really 3 envelopes you pick the biggest one.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 2:04 PM
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I think it's more about being content with any amount of money.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 2:05 PM
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FP 252: I'm not sure Heebie is playing straight with us. Has anyone ever seen Heebie and Sarah Palin together?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 2:08 PM
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This is now the Let Sifu Win/Friday Puzzler! Auxiliary Thread.

I suggest a new strategy, Artoo: let the wookiee win.

(That is Sifu, right?)


Posted by: C3PO | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 2:38 PM
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This is now the Let Sifu Win/Friday Puzzler! Auxiliary Thread.

Don't make me close it.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 2:53 PM
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I'm no wookiee! I'm your wife!

Wait, that doesn't work somehow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 3:00 PM
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9 is the most interesting thing I've read all day.

Write a book, read! Things like that make my time-sucking internet addiction worthwhile.

I've missed reading and commenting. Damn school.


Posted by: belle lettre | Link to this comment | 09-13-08 4:34 PM
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I know this section is dead and all but in case somebody stumbles upon it I want to make the point that if you are talking about theories of brilliance or suchlike *and* you are ignoring handedness you are ignoring the biggest factor.

It is not the degree of outsiderness or put-uponedness but rather both of those are symptoms of the underlying cause, handedness.

And I've said it before, there has been research, lots of research, but we lefties are suppressing it, and I promise I only use my powers for good. My good. And I play favorites too. So keep that in mind.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 09-15-08 3:16 PM
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Just don't get big on one side, Tripp.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 09-15-08 3:19 PM
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