Roundtable

The Rest Is History

Women in urban space, Emperor Nero in art, and cats in the news.

By Angela Serratore

Friday, August 26, 2016

Smith College basketball team, c. 1902.

• A flâneuse is not a flâneur: “The Flâneuses I found, the ones I wrote my book about, go walking in cities, but often with a purpose: to throw off the weight of their families, their husbands, their social roles, to explore who or what they can be, traveling around the world feeding off the chemical reaction, the flinting spark, provoked by the encounter with the foreign city. Flâneuserie—to coin a term—is about women moving from being looked at to looking.” (Paris Review Daily)

• Some words are hated, but which words are the most hated? (The Guardian)

• Mary Beard on the Emperor Nero in art: “Kristina Gehrmann’s digital montage, ‘The Head of Octavia’ (2010), shows the emperor turning to be sick when he is confronted with the head of his first wife, whose death he had ordered. But there are other modern images, too, that hint at Nero as the ‘evil inside ourselves’. One of the centrepieces of Lust and Crime is a work by Anselm Kiefer, ‘Nero paints’ (1974)—a devastated burnt landscape, with an artist’s palette superimposed across the centre. It prompts teasing questions about destruction, creativity and the role of the artist, ancient or modern, Nero or Kiefer. ‘Qualis artifex pereo’ (What an artist dies with me) were, of course, always said to be Nero’s last words.” (The Times Literary Supplement)

• In 1314, a retiree compiled as much knowledge of the Muslim world as he could find. (The New York Review of Books)

• Cat stories were popular well before the internet: “A month before the Brooklyn Bridge opened to the public, a cat crossed from Brooklyn to Manhattan in a political stunt whose purpose remains obscure. The cat was carried in a basket halfway across the bridge, then walked to the Manhattan side behind its master, who delivered him to members of an outpost of the Tammany Hall political club. There, the cat was called Ned of the Bridge.” (The New York Times)

• Western Massachusetts: the birthplace of (almost) every sport. (Atlas Obscura)