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La Piccioletta Barca - Issue 17

Non-fiction

Boredom and Excitement

Boredom and Excitement

Chapter 4, from his The Conquest of Happiness, 1930   Boredom as a factor in human behaviour has received, in my opinion, far less attention than it deserves. It has been, I believe, one of the great motive powers throughout the historical epoch, and is so at the...

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Both the Prickles and the Cold

Both the Prickles and the Cold

My friend Armaan used to mention an allegory which compared humans to hedgehogs in winter. The hedgehogs don’t want to get near each other because they each want to avoid getting pricked by one another’s prickles. However, if they stay apart they’ll die from the cold....

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Always invoking an echo, a summer’s day

Always invoking an echo, a summer’s day

Sometimes words stick. Read enough and the most innocuous and well-trodden of words can suddenly harl onto an older, wispier network of voices imbedded deep in our minds. J.H. Prynne’s Al Dente (2014) has for its epigraph, all in italics, the inobtrusive phrase: “O...

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Atheism, Religion, Judaism and Mathematics

Atheism, Religion, Judaism and Mathematics

1 I am a research mathematician and a Jewish American in the twentieth century United States. My own Jewish background comes more from the universalist Socialist Yiddishkeit tradition than from rabbinic Judaism. I mention all these facts upfront since it is relevant...

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Peaches

Peaches

When my grandmother spoke of what she lost she chose to tell me about the perfume and flavor of peaches from another country. I sat and listened, age six, from a creaky kitchen chair. Her words tumbled like a river. I thought they might never end. She didn’t mention...

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Robert Shaw’s Watch

Robert Shaw’s Watch

On May 25th, 1862, Robert Gould Shaw watched with his comrades in the Second Massachusetts Infantry as Stonewall Jackson defeated General Nathan Banks at the First Battle of Winchester. General Banks with his 6,500 Union troops would meet Stonewall Jackson’s near...

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Success in Circuit Lies

Success in Circuit Lies

In Hill’s later poetry, one is consistently caught unawares by some slantwise piercing glance. Amidst the rumbling ground bass of gnarled density and difficulty, a keen pure tone sometimes shines through.

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Larvaria

Larvaria

“Je raffole de tout ce qui rampe,” she told Van, her cousin and to-be-paramour. “I’m crazy about everything that crawls.” She was the last fictional love of my late childhood, slowly morphing into bursts of confused and chaotic lust.

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For a place under the sun

For a place under the sun

Exploring the lives or the work of many artistic figures, the fear of their womb of thought becoming a tomb seems to torment them. This might seem paradoxical given the intuitive association of art with originality and the belief that the latter is an intrinsic trait of the firm. Instead, this self-evident thought is transmuted as an esoteric angst, an internalised mission.

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Palintonos Harmonia

Palintonos Harmonia

Theatres are curious places, magician’s trick-boxes where the golden memories of dramatic triumphs linger like nostalgic ghosts, where the unexplainable, is normalized and the mundane is celebrated.

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Words doing justice – A memoir from Palestine

Words doing justice – A memoir from Palestine

There are things they do not tell you about occupied Palestine. You see, there are two types of cities. The first is built to be seen, to be gazed at. To have its curved vernaculars adored and to have the words “hundred years” roll off the tongues of elegantly-practiced private guides.

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