The Form of the World

links for this week's essay

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We all know the internet is full of listicles. “The Top Hacks to Make America Great Again” might have well gotten Trump elected. I can assure you, however, that my lists are wholesome, GMO free and likely to enlighten you in this world and the next. Without further ado, here’s the list of readings that went into this week’s essay:

India in the World

If you want to know where India is coming from and where it’s going, you are going to have to visit the country for months if not years, talk to a lot of people, read a lot of books and stay away from the mainstream media as much as possible. However, if you only want superficial knowledge, click away at:

  1. While Bengal Is in Turmoil, Men Explain Marxism to Me in which the author explains why the traditional left sucks.

  2. Ashish Kothari argues that citizens need to escape the twin pincers of the state and the market in Even More Starkly, We See How Liberal Democracies are Unjust

To China with Love

India and China go way back. Of the many things I find surprising about that relationship, the most jarring is seeing India referenced as the “Western Regions.” I am sure a Chinese scholar will write (or has written) a history of western world which starts with Assam. Reminds me of:

Chan Buddhism (Zen in Japanese, Dhyan in Sanskrit) supposedly came to China from South India, via Bodhidharma who was variously a Pallava prince and a Brahmin. Bodhidharma kept going east and arrived in San Fransisco, where he gave talks on Zen that are reported in:

  1. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

  2. I also mentioned David Hinton’s translations of Classical Chinese Poetry.

  3. There’s also the delightful Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei

The Form of Life

Success is almost assured if you start life with a name such as D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson. He also had the advantage of being

over six feet tall, with the build and carriage of a Viking and with the pride of bearing that comes from good looks known to be possessed

at a time when most people were short and not in possession of good looks. It was only five minutes ago I learned that

He died at his home in St Andrews after flying home from India in 1948, at the age of 87, having attended the Science Congress at Delhi, and staying in India for some months. Upon returning, "he suffered a breakdown in health, from which he never fully recovered."

Who invited him to India and why? Perhaps J.B.S Haldane if he was already there. And what was an 87 year old man doing flying to India from Scotland in 1948? I will have to follow up on this story. Anyway, more on the man here:

  1. Stephen Wolfram’s surprisingly warm essay about D’Arcy Thompson. I say surprising because Wolfram isn’t known for writing about other people.

  2. On Growth and Form, DAT’s magnum opus.


Is the philosophical discipline inaugurated by Edmund Husserl. I like his ideas though the man himself was infected with the prejudices of his times:

Unfortunately, phenomenology starts hard and quickly goes into impenetrable territory. If you want to learn more, start with:

  1. The Stanford Encyclopedia’s article on the subject.

  2. Dan Zahavi’s clear presentation in a short book.

That’s it for this week. If you have made it this far don’t forget to click on the

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