Book of the day
How can we explain the origins of the great wave of paranoid hatreds that seem inescapable in our close-knit world – from American ‘shooters’ and ISIS to Trump, from a rise in vengeful nationalism across the world to racism and misogyny on social media? In this book, Pankaj Mishra answers our bewilderment by casting his gaze back to the 18th century, before leading us to the present.
He shows that as the world became modern those who were unable to fulfil its promises – freedom, stability and prosperity – were increasingly susceptible to demagogues. The many who came late to this new world or were left, or pushed, behind, reacted in horrifyingly similar ways: intense hatred of invented enemies, attempts to re-create an imaginary golden age, and self-empowerment through spectacular violence. It was from among the ranks of the disaffected that the militants of the 19th century arose – angry young men who became cultural nationalists in Germany, messianic revolutionaries in Russia, bellicose chauvinists in Italy, and anarchist terrorists internationally.
Today, just as then, the wider embrace of mass politics, technology, and the pursuit of wealth and individualism has cast many more millions adrift in a literally demoralized world, uprooted from tradition but still far from modernity – with the same terrible results
Facts of the day
1653 The Parliamentarian General in the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell, is appointed as Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.
Due to all naturally hot water in Iceland you find swimming pools in even the smallest towns.
Icelanders love to unwind in hot tubs after work and families go to the swimming pools to enjoy some quality time.
The swimming pool is a popular setting for a first date and can be seen as the Icelandic equivalent of going to a bar for a drink.
Fifth Yule Lad
In Iceland, the fifth of the 13 Yule Lads pays a visit to every home this evening. Tonight, Pottaskefill (Pot Licker) will search your kitchen for pots and pans to lick out.
Unlike his brother, Stúfur, prefers edible leftovers rather than burnt remains. Will you let him have his way?
The ‘Jola’ part of the word ‘Jolabokaflod’ means ‘Yule’ in English, a festival that pre-dates the Christian appropriation of 25 December as the date to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Yule or Yuletide (also known as ‘Yule time’) is an indigenous 12-day midwinter festival observed by Germanic peoples long ago that later transformed under Christian influence into the now better-known Christmastide: the Twelve Days of Christmas. Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht.
Terms with an etymological equivalent to the word ‘Yule’ are used in Nordic countries like Iceland to mean ‘Christmas’, with its religious aspects and its place in secular society as a festive celebration.
The word ‘Yule’ is still used occasionally in the Anglophone world as a synonym for ‘Christmas’. Present-day Christmas customs such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others stem from pagan Yule. Today old traditions of Yule are celebrated in Heathenry and some other forms of modern Paganism.
The term ‘bookworm’ derives from tiny insects that feed on the binding of books. The metaphor is that avid readers ‘ devour’ and ‘eat up’ books in analogous ways.
1716 Louis-Jules Mancini-Mazarin (France)
1717 Elizabeth Carter (UK)
1775 Jane Austen (UK)
1787 Mary Russell Mitford (UK)
1862 Eugène Demolder (Belgium)
1863 George Santayana (Spain)
1897 Paul Neuhuys (Belgium)
1899 Noël Coward (UK)
1900 V S Pritchett (UK)
1903 Rafael Alberti (Spain)
1905 Piet Hein (Denmark)
1917 Arthur C Clarke (UK)
1922 Anthony Simmons (UK)
1923 Tip Marugg (Curaçao)
1927 Randall Garrett (USA)
1927 Peter Dickinson (Zambia, UK)
1928 Philip K Dick (USA)
1946 Adriaan van Dis (The Netherlands)
Jokes of the day
Have you read the book about teleportation? It’s bound to get you somewhere.
Cartoons: Piotr Kowalczyk, Using a Kindle, eBook Friendly
Quote of the day
Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time: ‘Every reader, as he reads, is actually the reader of himself. The writer’s work is only a kind of optical instrument he provides the reader so he can discern what he might never have seen in himself without this book. The reader’s recognition in himself of what the book says is the proof of the book’s truth.’