Roundtable

The Rest Is History

How van Gogh lost his ear, how umpires get dressed, and how windows are taking over the world.

By Angela Serratore

Friday, November 04, 2016

Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, by Vincent van Gogh, 1889.

• How the “man cave” took over American homes. (Atlas Obscura)

• Thomas de Quincey and the fascination with murder narrative: “In addition to ‘On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts’ and ‘On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth,’ De Quincey also produced one of the best early essays on the concept of speed: ‘The English Mail-Coach.’ A tour-de-force of feverish strangeness, De Quincey takes an incident from his younger days, when he was a passenger on the night mail coach—among the fastest modes of travel at the time—and the sleeping driver nearly ran into an oncoming carriage. What might have otherwise been just a momentary brush with death is transformed by De Quincey into a hallucinogenic ‘Dream Fugue,’ spilling out elaborate visions that rush by in the terrifying night. His obsession in all these works is in probing the nocturnal world hidden from sight, holding our terrors up before us for closer inspection.” (The New Republic)

• Thomas Bernhard gets ready for his close-up. (The New York Review of Books)

• Vincent van Gogh’s brother got engaged, and so Vincent…cut off his own ear? Maybe! (New York Times)

• Replacing walls with windows: “The difficulty stems from a confusion at the heart of contemporary architecture—that is, the difference between a window and a wall. In the first decades of the 20th century the Modernists dreamt of transparency, of the melting away of structure. Already in the mid-19th century a fissure opened up between a new glass architecture and the traditional blocks of the city. You can see the conflict between the two at St Pancras Station in London (1868), in the way William Henry Barlow’s magnificent glass shed comes crashing in to the city only to be blocked by George Gilbert Scott’s gothic brick castle of the Midland Grand hotel.” (Financial Times)

• Why do baseball umpires wear suits to games? (Jezebel)