The editors' blog
~ Posted by Simon Willis, May 7th 2014
In our May/June issue of Intelligent Life the Man in a Suit is Mark Lythgoe, a professor of biomedical imaging at University College London. One drizzly April morning, I visited Lythgoe's laboratory with Ben Thompson, formerly of The Economist's multimedia department, to talk about his research. In this video, he shows how transparent livers are giving us new insights into cancer, what fireflies are telling us about genetics, and how a fruit fly changed his view of human development.
~ Posted by David Bennun, May 6th 2014
A curious feature of my childhood in Nairobi at the end of the Seventies was a shelf stuffed with cheap little paperback collections of American cartoon humour. They retailed for a few shillings a go at a bookshop in Westlands shopping centre, and my family had picked up dozens over the years. They included Charles M. Schulz’s wonderful "Peanuts", the not quite so wonderful "B.C." and "The Wizard of Id" (both distinctively rendered by Johnny Hart) and, best of all, pocket anthologies from the golden era of Mad magazine.read more »
~ Posted by Rebecca Willis, April 30th 2014
People often wonder how siblings can be so unalike when they have the same parents, but—as Oliver James puts it in his book "They F*** You Up"—the fact is that "siblings DON'T have the same parents". That's because "parents are at different stages in their lives when their different children are born, and very often so is the state of their marriage". It struck me, at the National Gallery's Veronese exhibition the other day, that the same thing applies to the way we view art: we are not the same viewer every time we look at a painting.read more »
~ Posted by Rebecca Willis, April 28th 2014
I had forgotten, when writing my latest Applied Fashion column—but was glad to be reminded—that our word for the middle of the eye comes from a glimpsed version of ourselves in someone else's. "And don't forget the tiny reflection of oneself seen in another's pupil!" wrote Anna Blennow on our Facebook page, "From the Latin pupilla, little doll." It seems to be a symbol of our eagerness as a species for both self-knowledge and for human contact—you have to be up close and personal, after all, to see this miniature reflection of yourself.read more »
~ Posted by Nicholas Barber, April 25th 2014
As far as students of British situation comedy are concerned, nothing beats Tony Hancock’s sparkling 1950s radio show, “Hancock’s Half Hour”. Written by the peerless Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, it was a bold departure from the tuxedoed variety-show comedy which was the norm at the time, weaving instead the “frustrated, down-at-heel, male flatmates” thread which has run through the British sitcom ever since, from “Steptoe And Son” (also written by Galton and Simpson) to “Only Fools And Horses” to “Men Behaving Badly” to “Peep Show”.read more »
~ Posted by Rosie Blau, April 23rd 2014
I didn’t sleep much last year. I’ve never suffered from insomnia and I rarely have problems dropping off. But I had a baby who resisted even extreme efforts to sleep train him. In some phases he was waking every 45 minutes through the night. That meant I was too. Nine months in, he and I had barely slept a full night through. My brain felt as though all its connections had been loosened: words were dismembered between thinking and speaking and attempting to remember something was like trying to fish an eyelash out of water.read more »
~ Posted by Simon Willis, April 23rd 2014
Earlier this month, more than 700 people packed into the Union Chapel in Islington to hear Eleanor Catton interviewed by Robert Macfarlane. Last year Catton, who is 28, became the youngest ever winner of the Man Booker prize, with her novel "The Luminaries". Macfarlane, who writes the Landscapes of the Mind column in Intelligent Life, was chairman of the judges who awarded it to her. It was, as the travel writer Colin Thubron said as he introduced Catton and Macfarlane, "a unique interview"—not least because Macfarlane must be the only person in the world to have read the novel's 800 pages four times. They began by talking about the coastal landscape of "The Luminaries" (which Macfarlane had just written about in his column), before moving on to the book's intricate astrological structure, the psychology of Jung, and how love and money are opposites.read more »
~ Posted by Samantha Ellis, April 18th 2014
I’ve long had a hunch that "Jamaica Inn" was Daphne du Maurier’s gift to "Wuthering Heights" fans who had got into trouble trying to find their own Heathcliffs. While Emily Brontë makes Cathy Earnshaw choose between bad, irresistible Heathcliff and milquetoast Edgar, du Maurier gives her heroine Mary Yellan a better choice. Just as it looks like Mary might fall for Joss Merlyn, who’s not just a hard-drinking, rotten-hearted ship-wrecker but also her uncle by marriage, along comes his brother Jem, a sexy horse thief, who is wild and wicked, but also hopeful and kind. So my first question about the BBC’s new adaptation is: are Joss and Jem sufficiently fanciable?read more »
~ Posted by Tim de Lisle, April 17th 2014
INTELLIGENT TUNES: six good songs for your iPod
Elbow: New York Morning. Subtle, stirring, excellent.read more »
Asgeir: Torrent. Rousing folk-pop from Iceland’s bright new star. His album, “In the Silence”, is outstanding.
Damon Albarn: Everyday Robots. Refreshingly odd.
Darlene Love: Lean on Me. One of many reasons why “20 Feet from Stardom”, the tale of Love and other backing singers, deserves its Oscar.
Joan As Police Woman: The Classic. Time for something we didn’t know we were waiting for: the doo-wop revival.
Neneh Cherry: Across the Water. Just voice, drums and a rap, which turns into a beautifully stark ballad.
~ Posted by Melanie Grant, April 16th 2014
For one week every spring, the usually slumberous Swiss town of Basel gets wound right up. Baselworld, the biggest watch and jewellery fair on earth, sets up its stalls: the Time Lords have come to town.read more »