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The breasts of Bali: An update

  2.   Literary
  3. Friday, 21 June 2019
Abandoned souvenir painting shop, Ubud, Bali (photo by Isham Cook, 2019).   And our women would have to cover their breasts as if they were whores… Vicki Baum, Love and Death in Bali   If you wonder what years of living in Bali — as opposed to Elizabeth Gilbert’s four months of Eat, Pray, Love fame ...

Confucius and opium

  2.   Literary
  3. Monday, 15 April 2019
Illustration by Ye Su (耶苏)   This is where the hundred drugs are to be found. Classic of Mountains and Seas (山海经), 4th c. BCE He pierced his ears, making him able to understand the language of plants. Mircea Eliade, Shamanism The context If you suppose I’m proposing that the beloved sage was a man o...

Multilingualism and the time travel novel

  2.   Literary
  3. Saturday, 03 November 2018
  Wrap your watch around this Time travel has long provided rich material for writers. Yet problems crop up as soon as you try to work out exactly how to shift a mere hour forward in time, let alone days or years. Consider the following scenario. Arrayed naked on the table and draped with a towel, I...

American fascism: The sexual rage of the state

  2.   Literary
  3. Friday, 31 August 2018
The monetization of infraction What if the state’s manner of dealing with traffic offenses were applied to all crime, and punishment consisted solely in monetary fines instead of jail time? Let’s start with the humble parking ticket and work our way up to more serious crimes. What interests me about...

The expat and the prostitute: Four classic novels, 1956-62

  2.   Literary
  3. Monday, 11 June 2018
  View of Yellow Crane Tower in old Wuchang (photo by Isham Cook) A walk down old Wuchang’s Tanhualin historic pedestrian street takes you past boutiques, cafés and nineteenth-century Western consulates and missions, before ending at grimy Deshengqiao, more alley than street, where a left turn plung...

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