5 Things of Beauty

That's a question about life.
Nabokov hunting butterflies
Nabokov hunting butterflies

By Jesse Shulman

IB and life outside IB keeps me busy. So instead of new fiction, I present you with some things I find interesting.

1. George Burdell

The man who nearly became TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2001, despite never having existed. Google him.

2. Echo Bazaar

Someone recommended this web-browser game to me, so I set aside ten minutes to test it out. Then I came back ten minutes the next day. And the next. And the next. (I eventually did go cold turkey, and faced some heroin-calibre withdrawal.)

Think steampunk Monopoly and you only begin to understand Echo Bazaar. Imma not even gun explain what this game is or why it’s so cool, I’m just going to shove this url in your face:


3. Batman, Turkey

This is stolen from the newest issue of Mental Floss:

“…Batman, Turkey. This small, oil-producing city in the southeastern part of the country has been called Batman a lot longer than the superhero – a point the town’s mayor made in 2008 when he threatened to sue the director of The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan. Mayor Hüsein Kalkan alleged that the film’s producers took the name Batman without asking for permission […] He also blamed the city’s high female suicide rate on the psychological impact that the film’s success had on town residents. Despite his creative lobbying, the (now former) mayor of Batman won’t be getting any royalties. Evidently, you can’t trademark or register the name of a region or town.”

4. Don DeLillo’s opening paragraph for “Hammer and Sickle”, a short story published in last month’s Harpers:

“We walked across the highway bridge, thirty-nine of us in jumpsuits and tennis sneakers, with guards front and back and at the flanks, six in all. Beneath us the cars were blasting by, non-stop, their speed magnified by our near vantage and by the sound they made passing under the low bridge. There’s no word for it, that sound, pure urgency, sustained, incessant, northbound, southbound, and each time we walked across the overpass I wondered again who those people were, the drivers and passengers, so many cars, the pressing nature of their passage, the lives inside.”

5. The Dragon Princesses (excerpt, trans. by j.l.mood)

This is a letter from the German poet Rilke to I don’t remember who. When the world looks like red glowing eyes in the black entrance of a cave, read this and have no fear.

“[…] We, however are not prisoners. No traps or snares are set about us, and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us. We are set down in life as in the element to which we best correspond, and over and above this we have through thousands of years of accomodation become so like this life, that when we hold still we are, through a happy mimicry, scarcely to be distinguished from all that surrounds us. We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them. And if we could only arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful. How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.”