Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chemical History of a Candle
(Michael Faraday, 4:32)
Delightful, and free from librivox. Faraday was the genius dyslexic who invented field theory, which was later "mathematicized" by Maxwell. I wouldn't have supposed so much could be learned from acute attention to the phenomenology of burning. But then, Faraday explains things so concretely that one comes away fascinated by all that fire imparts.

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Pregnant Widow
(Martin Amis, 14:09)
Took a year to go into this deeply enough to be drawn in. The 1970s aren't as interesting as the latter days. The moralistic streak of rage at the libertine spirit apparently traces to Amis's witnessing his sister destroy herself as a slatternly alcoholic. That would indeed be grim. Nicholas maps to Christopher Hitchens, and has some interesting behavior. My favorite line, clearly autobiographical, gives account of Keith as inhabiting the 'much-disputed territory between five-foot-six and five-foot-seven.'