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At the Design Museum

Andrew O’Hagan: Peter Saville, 19 June 2003

... I think it likely – or slightly more than likely – that Peter Saville is the only English graphic artist to have had an actor play him in a major motion picture. The film, 24 Hour Party People, was entertaining in the way that films full of intense people with good accents and daft haircuts always are, and Saville comes off quite well, the genius of the piece in fact, which is probably saying quite a lot, since the Manchester music scene of the late 1970s and 1980s (the setting for the movie) bred self-proclaimed geniuses in the way Sheffield used to produce knives and forks ...

Short Cuts

William Davies: Cambridge Analytica, 5 April 2018

... different from the early ruthlessness of New Labour operators such as Alastair Campbell, Philip Gould and Peter Mandelson. Nor is there any reason to assume that New Labour’s 1990 analogue methods of data analysis – focus group and polling – are less informative or useful than automated psychometrics. As for Nix’s ...

How Jeans Got Their Fade

Peter Campbell: Mauve and indigo, 14 December 2000

Indigo 
by Jenny Balfour-Paul.
British Museum, 264 pp., £19.99, October 2000, 0 7141 2550 4
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Mauve: How One Man Invented a Colour that Changed the World 
by Simon Garfield.
Faber, 222 pp., £9.99, September 2000, 0 571 20197 0
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... chemists think. I can see that the task is difficult. Chemistry has not produced its equivalent of Gould or Feynman to make popular science of it (or, if it has, I have failed to find them). The only writer I know who makes chemistry intellectually exciting for the lay reader is Primo Levi, but, although he writes wonderfully about learning chemistry and the ...

Burning Witches

Michael Rogin, 4 September 1997

Raymond Chandler: A Biography 
by Tom Hiney.
Chatto, 310 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6310 0
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Raymond Chandler Speaking 
edited by Dorothy Gardiner and Kathrine Sorley Walker.
California, 288 pp., £10.95, May 1997, 0 520 20835 8
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... by Dick Powell and Robert Montgomery during Chandler’s lifetime, and afterwards by Elliot Gould, Robert Mitchum and James Garner. He was the hero of the most listened to radio detective serial in history, and, by the time Chandler died in 1959, had sold over five million books. The private eye was the wilderness hero moved to the urban frontier, alone ...

Chemical Common Sense

Miroslav Holub, 4 July 1996

The Same and Not the Same 
by Roald Hoffmann.
Columbia, 294 pp., $34.95, September 1995, 0 231 10138 4
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... because of its ‘human’ dimension, as in the immense, neo-Darwinian undertaking of Stephen Jay Gould, the books of Lewis Wolpert, Peter Medawar’s essays, the psychiatric narratives of Oliver Sacks or the clinical deliberations of Sherwin Nuland; and finally the heroic attempts to describe a single discipline, including ...

Tick-Tock

Malcolm Bull: Three Cheers for Apocalypse, 9 December 1999

Conversations about the End of Time 
by Umberto Eco and Stephen Jay Gould.
Allen Lane, 228 pp., £14.99, September 1999, 0 7139 9363 4
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Apocalypses: Prophesies, Cults and Millennial Beliefs throughout the Ages 
by Eugen Weber.
Hutchinson, 294 pp., £18.99, July 1999, 0 09 180134 6
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Messianic Revolution: Radical Religious Politics to the End of the Second Millennium 
by Richard Popkin and David Katz.
Allen Lane, 303 pp., £18.99, October 1999, 0 7139 9383 9
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... apocalypses in the New Testament (and therefore not accepted as such by all Biblical scholars) is Peter’s vision in Acts. Falling into a trance on the roof of a house, Peter sees the sky open up and a great sheet being lowered down. In it are animals of every possible sort, ‘whatever walks or crawls or flies’. A voice ...

Middle Positions

John Hedley Brooke, 21 July 1983

Archetypes and Ancestors: Palaeontology in Victorian London 1850-1875 
by Adrian Desmond.
Blond and Briggs, 287 pp., £15.95, October 1982, 0 85634 121 5
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Evolution without Evidence: Charles Darwin and ‘The Origin Species’ 
by Barry Gale.
Harvester, 238 pp., £18.95, January 1983, 0 7108 0442 3
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The Secular Ark: Studies in the History of Biogeography 
by Janet Browne.
Yale, 273 pp., £21, May 1983, 0 300 02460 6
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The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinsm 
by Brain Leith.
Collins, 174 pp., £7.95, December 1982, 0 00 219548 8
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... of Lamarck. The point that Desmond brings out so well – drawing on the work of Martin Rudwick, Peter Bowler and Michael Bartholomew – is that Darwin’s Origin of Species actually caught Huxley on the wrong foot. If the future of scientific naturalism was, after all, to be bound up with an evolutionary theory, there was a respect in which Huxley had ...

Touching the music

Paul Driver, 4 January 1996

Stravinsky: Chronicle of a Friendship 
by Robert Craft.
Vanderbilt, 588 pp., £35.95, October 1994, 0 8265 1258 5
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... are newly included. Letters (also to Craft) from Arnold Schoenberg, Luigi Dallapiccola, Glenn Gould and other musical luminaries are also published for the first time; and most of the illustrations are new. Gone are the itineraries that laboriously prefaced each chapter-year in the original edition and the interpolated 12-page ‘Afterword’ which Craft ...

Mares and Stallions

Tom Wilkie, 18 May 1989

Games, Sex and Evolution 
by John Maynard Smith.
Harvester, 264 pp., £14.95, August 1988, 0 7108 1216 7
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... Time, has remained in the best-seller lists on both sides of the Atlantic for months. Stephen Jay Gould, the American evolutionary biologist, writes essays that are a delight to read. The late Sir Peter Medawar was a consummate stylist. But these few names aside, where, one asks oneself, are the modern equivalents of the ...

Mr Straight and Mr Good

Paul Foot: Gordon Brown, 19 February 1998

Gordon Brown: The Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 358 pp., £17.99, February 1998, 0 684 81954 6
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... and the subsequent policy review conducted by the Shadow Secretary for Trade and Industry, Bryan Gould. Who are the two young members of the Tribune Group passionately arguing against the inclusion in Labour’s new programme of a modest measure, supported by the Tribune Group, to buy 2 per cent of the shares in British Telecom and thus restore public ...

If everybody had a Wadley

Terry Castle: ‘Joe’ Carstairs, the ‘fastest woman on water’, 5 March 1998

The Queen of Whale Cay: The Eccentric Story of ‘Joe’ Carstairs, Fastest Woman on Water 
by Kate Summerscale.
Fourth Estate, 248 pp., £12.99, August 1997, 1 85702 360 9
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... Che Guevara, Greta Garbo, Edith Sitwell, JFK, Maria Callas, Howard Hughes, Andy Warhol, Glenn Gould, the late Princess of Wales) down to minor bog-sprites such as Eartha Kitt, Cher or Quentin Crisp. (Such lists are infinitely expandable.) What links each of these disparate individuals is a singularity so tangible as to border on the uncanny. We register ...

The Kentish Hog

Adrian Desmond, 15 October 1987

The Correspondence of Charles Darwin. Vol. II: 1837-1843 
edited by Frederick Burkhardt and Sydney Smith.
Cambridge, 603 pp., £30, March 1987, 0 521 25588 0
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The Works of Charles Darwin 
edited by Paul Barrett and R.B. Freeman.
Pickering & Chatto, 10 pp., £470, March 1987, 1 85196 002 3
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The Darwinian Heritage 
edited by David Kohn.
Princeton, 1138 pp., £67.90, February 1986, 0 691 08356 8
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Western Science in the Arab World: The Impact of Darwinism, 1860-1930 
by Adel Ziadat.
Macmillan, 162 pp., £27.50, October 1986, 0 333 41856 5
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Theories of Human Evolution: A Century of Debate 1844-1944 
by Peter Bowler.
Blackwell, 318 pp., £25, February 1987, 0 631 15264 4
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Controversy in Victorian Geology: The Cambrian-Silurian Dispute 
by James Secord.
Princeton, 363 pp., £33.10, October 1986, 0 691 08417 3
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Darwin’s Metaphor: Nature’s Place in Victorian Culture 
by Robert Young.
Cambridge, 341 pp., £30, October 1985, 0 521 31742 8
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... parcelled out his Beagle specimens to white-collar naturalists: to zoological craftsmen like John Gould (who reciprocated by christening a new rhea darwinii after him). Darwin modelled his Zoology on Humboldt’s Zoologie, acting as taskmaster and paymaster chivvying a Gradgrind work-force. Not that he was incapable of such work himself. Although in typical ...

Mad Monk

Jenny Diski: Not going to the movies, 6 February 2003

The New Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David Thomson.
Little, Brown, 963 pp., £25, November 2002, 0 316 85905 2
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Nobody’s Perfect: Writings from the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Anthony Lane.
Picador, 752 pp., £15.99, November 2002, 0 330 49182 2
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Paris Hollywood: Writings on Film 
by Peter Wollen.
Verso, 314 pp., £13, December 2002, 1 85984 391 3
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... later list (for example, LA Confidential, The Usual Suspects, Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould), and a few others (Nil by Mouth, The English Patient, The Truman Show, Shallow Grave) that someone might feel it was worth crossing the road for; but in general his argument that Lane’s evident talent has had little to work on and is condemned to ...

Lowellship

John Bayley, 17 September 1987

Robert Lowell: Essays on the Poetry 
edited by Steven Gould Axelrod and Helen Deese.
Cambridge, 377 pp., £17.50, June 1987, 0 571 14979 0
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Collected Prose 
by Robert Lowell, edited and introduced by Robert Giroux.
Faber, 269 pp., £27.50, February 1987, 0 521 30872 0
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... is Fifty years of snapshots, The ladder of ripening likeness. In his introductory essay Steven Gould Axelrod writes that ‘Lowell felt so personally contingent that he dedicated himself to a task of self-creation in an unfinishable discourse, spent his life pushing across the borders of his previous texts, lived only in the ever-shifting frontier of an ...

Our Cyborg Progeny

Meehan Crist: Gaia will save us. Sort of, 7 January 2021

Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence 
by James Lovelock.
Allen Lane, 160 pp., £9.99, July 2020, 978 0 14 199079 8
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... root in the public imagination. But it also set some eyes rolling. Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould were critical, and scientists across the board argued that Gaia smacked of teleology or even new-age mysticism. Can we really say a planet is an organism? What if life just evolves and there’s nothing that actually ‘seeks’ to keep it all afloat? Where ...

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