Ideas in the Afternoon for February 2019
Monday, February 4
THE SEWERS OF PARIS AND THE MAKING OF A MODERN CITY, Part 1
Sewers are a relatively modern phenomenon. For centuries, people in cities lived intimately with their waste. The price paid for that lack of awareness about hygiene was of course disease and plague — as well as unbearable stench. Understanding how germs and diseases are spread led to sanitation and sewers — and to the modern city. The rebuilding of Paris in the mid-19th century was a great civic achievement and a new idea of society only made possible because it was built on sewers. Philip Coulter goes underground in the City of Light to visit the City of Smells. Part 1 of a 2-part series.
Monday, February 11
THE ACCOMMODATING SPACE: A Hotel Check-in
A guest checks into a Las Vegas hotel suite, and makes it a fortress, staging a mass shooting on the city below. It's a horrific act that seems to subvert the very ethos of hotels — places of hospitality and calm. Yet hotels contain multitudes. They are sites of fantasy and functionality, pleasure and trouble. Their spaces are public and private, workplace and bedroom. They exist to house us temporarily, in luxury or in squalor.
Monday, February 18
When Michel de Montaigne, a 16th century French writer, bureaucrat, and self-defined accidental philosopher, published his Essais – various "trials" or "experiments" in ideas – he created the literary form we call the essay. His writings have touched centuries of readers and writers; Flaubert even wrote of Montaigne "read him in order to live." Tony Luppino opens the texts and life of Western literature's original 'free thinker' who wrote on everything from idleness and liars, to wearing clothes and punishing cowardice.
Monday, February 25
HUMAN RIGHTS UNDER ATTACK: Gareth Peirce on the New Dark Age
For more than 40 years, Gareth Peirce has fought to expose miscarriages of justice and free the wrongfully accused. Based in London, she was instrumental in freeing members of the Guildford Four, who were falsely convicted of carrying out the IRA bombing of a British pub. More recently, she has been representing members of the new suspect community — Muslims falsely accused of being terrorists. Peirce warns eroding human rights under the guise of national security, is a profound attack on democracy.