LWR #4

5-12 December

Venus with Biceps. M. Popova’s review of a stunning book dedicated to muscular women. The authors (David L. Chapman and Patricia Vertinsky) collected pictures, images, posters and illustrations of athletes, circus artists and strong women from a time spam of about 200 years. The images and their contextualization testify the socio-cultural perception of strong women and the ambivalence created by the admiration for power and strength together with the fear and reject of a non-standard female representation. Muscularity and strength, usually seen as male prerogatives, coexist with femininity and beauty, challenging standards still widespread today. Though not a big fan of bodybuilding myself, I find not only extremely fascinating to see how this mages have evolved throughout the years, but also timely and imperative in a cultural context that still tend to portray women as quiet and weak. Even though the “strong is the new beautiful” is slowly making its way into pop-culture and media, there is still a long way to go, and the book is definitely food for thought with respect to this !

The silencing of writers in Turkey. Elif Shafak, The New Yorker. How are writers reacting to Erdogan’s repression and censorship?

There seem to me to be four basic responses among Turkish writers to the loss of intellectual and artistic freedom. First, there is depoliticization—voluntary self-censorship. […] Then there is the path of over-intellectualization—a change in style rather than in subject. […] There are also those who will find themselves catapulted into a new public role for which they had not been prepared, having to fight against power, injustice, inequality, oppression. […] The last and fourth path is satire, a sharp, black humor. What better response to the situation than to make fun of authority, and to make fun of a society that so fears its baba—and also to make fun of ourselves, the writers and artists, who are trying to survive by selling our souls a little bit more every day?

The Power of Will. The Boston Globe. Will was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma (a form of cancer) when he was 5 months old. Thanks to the determination of his family (and the families of other children) and a brave and dedicated pediatric oncology Doctor, a potential cure for the disease is discovered and brought through trials, saving the life of Will and the one of tenths of other children. A battle that spaced from the private family sphere, to the market and governmental institutions, a moving example of how  brilliant minds, vision, hope, hard work and, mostly, strong will ,can truly bring change in the world we live in.