Adonis Diaries

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What do you mean by Most Powerful Women?

The 100 Most Powerful Arab Women 2015

Welcome to CEO Middle East’s fifth annual list of the world’s most powerful Arab women

Our yearly look at the most important female influencers across the Arab world.

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1

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud

Saudi Arabia

$28.1bn ($31.2bn)

2

The Olayan family

Saudi Arabia

$12bn ($12.5bn)

3

Joseph Safra

Brazil (Lebanon)

$11.9bn ($7.5bn)

4

The Sawiris family

Egypt

$11.3bn ($10bn)

5

Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber

UK (Saudi Arabia)

$9.2bn ($12.66bn)

6

Mohammed Al Amoudi

Saudi Arabia

$9bn ($12bn)

7

The Kharafi family

Kuwait

$8.3bn ($8.5bn)

8

The Al Ghurair family

UAE

$7bn ($6.3bn)

9

The Bukhamseen family

Kuwait

$6.4bn ($6.8bn)

10

The Kanoo family

Bahrain

$6bn ($6.1bn)

11

The Mansour family

Egypt

$5.4bn ($5.1bn)

12

The Al Rajhi family

Saudi Arabia

$5bn ($4.3bn)

13

Hussain Sajwani

UAE

$4bn (New entry)

14

The Gargash family

UAE

$3.5bn ($3.7bn)

15

Adel Aujan

Saudi Arabia

$3.3bn ($3.56bn)

16

Najib Mikati

Lebanon

$3.2bn ($3.4bn)

17

Abdulatif Al Fozan

Saudi Arabia

$3.05bn ($3.25bn)

18

Issad Rebrab

Algeria

$3bn (New entry)

19

The Hayek family

Switzerland (Lebanon)

$2.9bn ($3.2bn)

20

Bahaa Hariri

Switzerland (Saudi Arabia)

$2.8bn ($3.1bn)

21

Saad Hariri

Lebanon

$2.7bn ($3.3bn)

22

Ziad Manasir

Russia (Jordan)

$2.6bn ($2.58bn)

23

Mansour Ojjeh

France (Saudi Arabia)

$2.45bn ($2.8bn)

24

Othman Benjelloun

Morocco

$2.4bn (New entry)

25

Ayman Asfari

UK (Syria)

$2.35bn ($2.7bn)

26

Mohammed Ibrahim

UK (North Sudan)

$2.2bn ($2.15bn)

27

Nadhmi Auchi

UK (Iraq)

$1.9bn ($2.2bn)

28

Saleh Kamel

Saudi Arabia

$1.85bn ($2bn)

29

Hasan Abdullah Ismaik

UAE (Jordan)

$1.8bn (New entry)

30

Mohammed Al Fayed

UK (Egypt)

$1.7bn (new entry)

–>

1

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi

UAE (UAE)

Government

2

Amal Clooney

Lebanon (UK)

Law

3

Loujain Al Hathloul

Saudi Arabia

Culture and society

4

Lubna Olayan

Saudi Arabia

Banking and finance

5

Reem Al Hashimy

UAE

Government

6

Mariam Al Mansouri

UAE

Armed forces

7

Mona Al Munajjed

Saudi Arabia

Culture and society

8

Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch

Morocco

Retail

9

Amina Al Rustamani

UAE

Media

10

Zainab Mohammed

UAE

Real estate

11

Nayla Hayek

UAE (Lebanon)

Retail

12

Dr Rana Dajani

Jordan

Science

13

Haifaa Al Mansour

Saudi Arabia

Arts and entertainment

14

Bayan Mahmoud Al Zahran

Saudi Arabia

Law

15

Manahel Thabet

UAE (Yemen)

Science

16

Hayat Sindi

Saudi Arabia

Science

17

Leila El Solh

Lebanon

Culture and society

18

Iqbal Al Asaad

Lebanon (Palestine)

Healthcare

19

Huda Al Ghoson

Saudi Arabia

Energy

20

Hanan Al Kuwari

Qatar

Healthcare

21

Zaha Hadid

Iraq (UK)

Construction

22

Mariam Abultewi

Palestine

Technology

23

Fatima Al Jaber

UAE

Construction

24

Majida Ali Rashid

UAE

Real estate

25

Maali Alasousi

Yemen (Kuwait)

Culture and society

26

Samia Halaby

US (Palestine)

Arts and entertainment

27

Maha Laziri

Morocco

Education

28

Somayya Jabarti

Saudi Arabia

Media

29

Raja Al Gurg

UAE

Construction

30

Hamdiyah Al Jaff

Iraq

Banking and finance

31

Shaikha Al Bahar

Kuwait

Banking and finance

32

Wafa Sayadi

Tunisia

Environmental services

33

Futaim Al Falasi

UAE

Media

34

Lamis Elhadidy

Egypt

Media

35

Joelle Mardinian

UAE

Arts and entertainment

36

Noura Al Kaabi

UAE

Media

37

Samia Al Amoudi

Saudi Arabia

Healthcare

38

Lina Attalah

Egypt

Media

39

Grace Najjar

Lebanon

Consulting and coaching

40

Samira Islam

Saudi Arabia

Science

41

Khawla Al Kuraya

Saudi Arabia

Science

42

Zainab Salbi

Iraq (US)

Culture and society

43

Mira Al Attiyah

Qatar

Finance

44

Muna Abu Sulayman

Saudi Arabia

Culture and society

45

Abeer Abu Ghaith

Palestine

IT

46

Rasha Al Roumi

Kuwait

Transport

47

Summer Nasief

Saudi Arabia

Healthcare

48

Maryam Matar

UAE

Science

49

Hend El Sherbini

Egypt

Science

50

Raha Moharrak

UAE (Saudi Arabia)

Sport

51

Maha Al Ghunaim

Kuwait

Banking and finance

52

Habiba Al Safar

UAE

Science

53

Salma Hareb

UAE

Industry

54

Joumana Haddad

Lebanon

Culture and society

55

Dalia Mogahed

US (Egypt)

Culture and society

56

Thoraya Obaid

Saudi Arabia

Culture and society

57

Randa Ayoubi

Jordan

Media

58

Mona Al Marri

UAE

Media

59

Sarah Shuhail

UAE

Culture and society

60

Soraya Salti

Jordan

Culture and society

61

Nawal Al Saadawi

Egypt

Culture and society

62

Amira Yahyaoui

Tunisia

Culture and society

63

Nashwa Al Ruwaini

UAE

Media

64

Ayah Bdeir

Canada (Lebanon)

Science

65

Tawakul Karman

Yemen

Culture and society

66

Nadine Labaki

Lebanon

Arts and entertainment

67

Maha Al Farhan

UAE

Science

68

Nahed Taher

Saudi Arabia

Banking and finance

69

Mona Eltahawy

US (Egypt)

Media

70

Hala Gorani

US (Syria)

Media

71

Dima Ikhwan

Saudi Arabia

Finance and entertainment

72

Nancy Ajram

Lebanon

Arts and entertainment

73

Nermin Saad

Saudi Arabia (Jordan)

IT

74

Amal Al Qubaisi

UAE

Culture and society

75

Ingie Chalhoub

UAE

Retail

76

Dalya Al Muthanna

UAE

Conglomerate

77

Elissa Freiha

UAE

Investment

78

Badreya Al Bishr

Saudi Arabia

Media

79

Hind Seddiqi

UAE

Retail

80

Hanan Solayman

Egypt

Media

81

Fatema Mernissi

Morocco

Culture and society

82

Manal Al Sharif

Saudi Arabia

Culture and society

83

Nisreen Shocair

UAE (Lebanon)

Retail

84

Ghada Amer

Egypt

Science

85

Amal Al Marri

UAE

Retail

86

Fairouz

Lebanon

Arts and entertainment

87

Nayla Al Khaja

UAE

Arts and entertainment

88

Yousra

Egypt

Arts and entertainment

89

Ahlam Mosteghanemi

Algeria

Arts and entertainment

90

Hayv Kahraman

US (Iraq)

Arts and entertainment

91

Ismahane Elouafi

Morocco

Science

92

Muna Harib

UAE

Culture and society

93

Ahlam

UAE

Arts and entertainment

94

Sara Akbar

Kuwait

Energy

95

Huda Kotb

US (Egypt)

Media

96

Mona Ataya

UAE (Palestine)

Retail

97

Mishaal Ashemimry

US (Saudi Arabia)

Aerospace engineering

98

Reine Abbas

Lebanon

Technology

99

Buthaina Al Ansari

Qatar

Culture and society

100

Hind Hobeika

Lebanon

Technology

 

Secrets of design

In the great 1980s movie “The Blues Brothers,” there’s a scene where John Belushi goes to visit Dan Aykroyd in his apartment in Chicago for the very first time. It’s a cramped, tiny space and it’s just three feet away from the train tracks.

As John sits on Dan’s bed, a train goes rushing by, rattling everything in the room. John asks, “How often does that train go by?” Dan replies, “So often, you won’t even notice it.” And then, something falls off the wall.

0:48 We all know what he’s talking about. As human beings, we get used to everyday things really fast. As a product designer, it’s my job to see those everyday things, to feel them, and try to improve upon them. For example, see this piece of fruit? See this little sticker? That sticker wasn’t there when I was a kid. But somewhere as the years passed, someone had the bright idea to put that sticker on the fruit. Why? So it could be easier for us to check out at the grocery counter.

1:22 Well that’s great, we can get in and out of the store quickly. But now, there’s a new problem. When we get home and we’re hungry and we see this ripe, juicy piece of fruit on the counter, we just want to pick it up and eat it. Except now, we have to look for this little sticker. And dig at it with our nails, damaging the flesh. Then rolling up that sticker — you know what I mean. And then trying to flick it off your fingers. (Applause) It’s not fun, not at all.

1:58 But something interesting happened. See the first time you did it, you probably felt those feelings. You just wanted to eat the piece of fruit. You felt upset. You just wanted to dive in. By the 10th time, you started to become less upset and you just started peeling the label off. By the 100th time, at least for me, I became numb to it. I simply picked up the piece of fruit, dug at it with my nails, tried to flick it off, and then wondered, “Was there another sticker?”

2:34 So why is that? Why do we get used to everyday things? Well as human beings, we have limited brain power. And so our brains encode the everyday things we do into habits so we can free up space to learn new things. It’s a process called habituation and it’s one of the most basic ways, as humans, we learn.

2:56 Now, habituation isn’t always bad. Remember learning to drive? I sure do. Your hands clenched at 10 and 2 on the wheel, looking at every single object out there — the cars, the lights, the pedestrians. It’s a nerve-wracking experience. So much so, that I couldn’t even talk to anyone else in the car and I couldn’t even listen to music. But then something interesting happened. As the weeks went by, driving became easier and easier. You habituated it. It started to become fun and second nature. And then, you could talk to your friends again and listen to music.

3:37 So there’s a good reason why our brains habituate things. If we didn’t, we’d notice every little detail, all the time. It would be exhausting, and we’d have no time to learn about new things.

3:51 But sometimes, habituation isn’t good. If it stops us from noticing the problems that are around us, well, that’s bad. And if it stops us from noticing and fixing those problems, well, then that’s really bad.

4:06 Comedians know all about this. Jerry Seinfeld’s entire career was built on noticing those little details, those idiotic things we do every day that we don’t even remember. He tells us about the time he visited his friends and he just wanted to take a comfortable shower. He’d reach out and grab the handle and turn it slightly one way, and it was 100 degrees too hot. And then he’d turn it the other way, and it was 100 degrees too cold. He just wanted a comfortable shower. Now, we’ve all been there, we just don’t remember it. But Jerry did, and that’s a comedian’s job.

4:44 But designers, innovators and entrepreneurs, it’s our job to not just notice those things, but to go one step further and try to fix them.

4:54 See this, this person, this is Mary Anderson. In 1902 in New York City, she was visiting. It was a cold, wet, snowy day and she was warm inside a streetcar. As she was going to her destination, she noticed the driver opening the window to clean off the excess snow so he could drive safely. When he opened the window, though, he let all this cold, wet air inside, making all the passengers miserable. Now probably, most of those passengers just thought, “It’s a fact of life, he’s got to open the window to clean it. That’s just how it is.” But Mary didn’t. Mary thought, “What if the diver could actually clean the windshield from the inside so that he could stay safe and drive and the passengers could actually stay warm?” So she picked up her sketchbook right then and there, and began drawing what would become the world’s first windshield wiper.

5:55 Now as a product designer, I try to learn from people like Mary to try to see the world the way it really is, not the way we think it is. Why? Because it’s easy to solve a problem that almost everyone sees. But it’s hard to solve a problem that almost no one sees.

6:15 Now some people think you’re born with this ability or you’re not, as if Mary Anderson was hardwired at birth to see the world more clearly. That wasn’t the case for me. I had to work at it. During my years at Apple, Steve Jobs challenged us to come into work every day, to see our products through the eyes of the customer, the new customer, the one that has fears and possible frustrations and hopeful exhilaration that their new technology product could work straightaway for them. He called it staying beginners, and wanted to make sure that we focused on those tiny little details to make them faster, easier and seamless for the new customers.

7:03 So I remember this clearly in the very earliest days of the iPod. See, back in the ’90s, being a gadget freak like I am, I would rush out to the store for the very, very latest gadget. I’d take all the time to get to the store, I’d check out, I’d come back home, I’d start to unbox it. And then, there was another little sticker: the one that said, “Charge before use.”

7:33 What! I can’t believe it! I just spent all this time buying this product and now I have to charge before use. I have to wait what felt like an eternity to use that coveted new toy. It was crazy.

7:45 But you know what? Almost every product back then did that. When it had batteries in it, and you had to charge it before you used it. Well, Steve noticed that and he said, “We’re not going to let that happen to our product.” So what did we do? Typically, when you have a product that has a hard drive in it, you run it for about 30 minutes in the factory to make sure that hard drive’s going to be working years later for the customer after they pull it out of the box. What did we do instead? We ran that product for over two hours. Why? Well, first off, we could make a higher quality product, be easy to test, and make sure it was great for the customer. But most importantly, the battery came fully charged right out of the box, ready to use. So that customer, with all that exhilaration, could just start using the product. It was great, and it worked. People liked it.

8:43 Today, almost every product that you get that’s battery powered comes out of the box fully charged, even if it doesn’t have a hard drive. But back then, we noticed that detail and we fixed it, and now everyone else does that as well. No more, “Charge before use.”

9:01 So why am I telling you this? Well, it’s seeing the invisible problem, not just the obvious problem, that’s important, not just for product design, but for everything we do. You see, there are invisible problems all around us, ones we can solve. But first we need to see them, to feel them.

9:23 So, I’m hesitant to give you any tips about neuroscience or psychology. There’s far too many experienced people in the TED community who would know much more about that than I ever will. But let me leave you with a few tips that I do, that we all can do, to fight habituation.

9:41 My first tip is to look broader. You see, when you’re tackling a problem, sometimes, there are a lot of steps that lead up to that problem. And sometimes, a lot of steps after it. If you can take a step back and look broader, maybe you can change some of those boxes before the problem. Maybe you can combine them. Maybe you can remove them altogether to make that better.

10:05 Take thermostats, for instance. In the 1900s when they first came out, they were really simple to use. You could turn them up or turn them down. People understood them. But in the 1970s, the energy crisis struck, and customers started thinking about how to save energy. So what happened? Thermostat designers decided to add a new step. Instead of just turning up and down, you now had to program it. So you could tell it the temperature you wanted at a certain time. Now that seemed great. Every thermostat had started adding that feature. But it turned out that no one saved any energy. Now, why is that? Well, people couldn’t predict the future. They just didn’t know how their weeks would change season to season, year to year. So no one was saving energy, and what happened?

10:56 Thermostat designers went back to the drawing board and they focused on that programming step. They made better U.I.s, they made better documentation. But still, years later, people were not saving any energy because they just couldn’t predict the future. So what did we do? We put a machine-learning algorithm in instead of the programming that would simply watch when you turned it up and down, when you liked a certain temperature when you got up, or when you went away. And you know what? It worked. People are saving energy without any programming.

11:34 So, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. If you take a step back and look at all the boxes, maybe there’s a way to remove one or combine them so that you can make that process much simpler. So that’s my first tip: look broader.

11:49 For my second tip, it’s to look closer. One of my greatest teachers was my grandfather. He taught me all about the world. He taught me how things were built and how they were repaired, the tools and techniques necessary to make a successful project. I remember one story he told me about screws, and about how you need to have the right screw for the right job. There are many different screws: wood screws, metal screws, anchors, concrete screws, the list went on and on. Our job is to make products that are easy to install for all of our customs themselves without professionals. So what did we do? I remembered that story that my grandfather told me, and so we thought, “How many different screws can we put in the box? Was it going to be two, three, four, five? Because there’s so many different wall types.” So we thought about it, we optimized it, and we came up with three different screws to put in the box. We thought that was going to solve the problem. But it turned out, it didn’t.

13:00 So we shipped the product, and people weren’t having a great experience. So what did we do? We went back to the drawing board just instantly after we figured out we didn’t get it right. And we designed a special screw, a custom screw, much to the chagrin of our investors. They were like, “Why are you spending so much time on a little screw? Get out there and sell more!” And we said, “We will sell more if we get this right.” And it turned out, we did. With that custom little screw, there was just one screw in the box, that was easy to mount and put on the wall.

13:36 So if we focus on those tiny details, the ones we may not see and we look at them as we say, “Are those important or is that the way we’ve always done it? Maybe there’s a way to get rid of those.”

13:53 So my last piece of advice is to think younger. Every day, I’m confronted with interesting questions from my three young kids. They come up with questions like, “Why can’t cars fly around traffic?” Or, “Why don’t my shoelaces have Velcro instead?” Sometimes, those questions are smart. My son came to me the other day and I asked him, “Go run out to the mailbox and check it.” He looked at me, puzzled, and said, “Why doesn’t the mailbox just check itself and tell us when it has mail?” (Laughter) I was like, “That’s a pretty good question.” So, they can ask tons of questions and sometimes we find out we just don’t have the right answers. We say, “Son, that’s just the way the world works.” So the more we’re exposed to something, the more we get used to it. But kids haven’t been around long enough to get used to those things. And so when they run into problems, they immediately try to solve them, and sometimes they find a better way, and that way really is better.

15:07 So my advice that we take to heart is to have young people on your team, or people with young minds. Because if you have those young minds, they cause everyone in the room to think younger. Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is when he or she grows up, is how to remain an artist.” We all saw the world more clearly when we saw it for the first time, before a lifetime of habits got in the way. Our challenge is to get back there, to feel that frustration, to see those little details, to look broader, look closer, and to think younger so we can stay beginners.

15:55 It’s not easy. It requires us pushing back against one of the most basic ways we make sense of the world. But if we do, we could do some pretty amazing things. For me, hopefully, that’s better product design. For you, that could mean something else, something powerful.

16:17 Our challenge is to wake up each day and say, “How can I experience the world better?” And if we do, maybe, just maybe, we can get rid of these dumb little stickers.

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TED. 23 hrs ·

The designer of the iPod shares three tips for solving invisible problems in the world around you:

t.ted.com|By Tony Fadell, designer of the iPod

Steve Jobs Keynotes addresses

April 19, 2015

A Steve Jobs keynote was a tightly choreographed and relentlessly prepared presentation, according to the new book Becoming Steve Jobs, by Brent Schlender.

Jobs turned the product launch into an art form.

He leaves a legacy by which entrepreneurs can learn to dazzle their audiences. The following five keynotes will help anyone give the presentation of a lifetime.

1. The Mac launch

Every Steve Jobs presentation had one moment that people would be talking about the next day. These “moments” were tightly scripted and relentlessly rehearsed. Remarkably, Jobs’ flair for the dramatic started before PowerPoint or Apple Keynote were available as slide design tools, which proves you don’t need slides to leave your audience breathless.

Related: Former Apple CEO John Sculley: This Is What Made Steve Jobs a Genius

On Jan. 24, 1984, Steve Jobs introduced the first Macintosh with a magician’s flair for the big reveal. He showed a series of images and said, “Everything you just saw was created by what’s in that bag.” And with that Jobs walked to the center of a darkened stage that had a table and a canvas bag sitting on top it. He slowly pulled the Mac from the bag, inserted a floppy disk, and walked away as the theme from Chariots of Fire began to play as images filled the screen.

The lesson: A presentation doesn’t always need slides to wow an audience.

2. The iPhone

The rule of three is one of most powerful concepts in writing. The human mind can only retain three or four “chunks” of information. Jobs was well aware of this principle and divided much of his presentations into three parts. Sometimes he even had fun with it.

For example, on Feb. 16, 2007, Jobs told the audience to expect three new products: a new iPod, a phone and an “Internet communication device.” After repeating the three products several times, he made the big reveal — all three products were wrapped in one new device, the iPhone.

The lesson: Introduce three benefits or features of a product, not 23.

3. The first MacBook Air

When Jobs introduced the “world’s thinnest notebook,” the MacBook Air, he walked to the side of the stage, pulled out a manila envelope hiding behind the podium and said, “It’s so thin it even fits inside one of those envelopes you see floating around the office.” With a beaming smile, he slowly pulled it out of the envelope for all to see.

Most presenters would have shown photographs of the product. Jobs took it one step further. He knew what would grab people’s attention. This did. Most of the blogs, magazines and newspapers that covered the launch ran a photograph of Steve Jobs pulling the computer out of the envelope.

The lesson: Don’t just tell us about a product, show it to us, and do it with pizzazz.

Related: 5 Things I Learned About Successful Startups From Steve Jobs

4. The iTunes Store

Every great drama has a hero and a villain. Steve Jobs was a master at introducing both heroes and villains in the same presentation. On April 28, 2003, Jobs convinced consumers to pay 99 cents for songs. Jobs began with a brief discussion of Napster and Kazaa, sites that offered “near instant gratification” and, from the user’s perspective, free downloads. On the next slide he listed the “dark side.” They were:

  • Unreliable downloads
  • Unreliable quality (“a lot of these songs are encoded by 7-year-olds and they don’t do a great job.”)
  • No previews
  • No album cover art
  • It’s stealing (“It’s best not to mess with karma.”)

In the next section of the presentation Jobs replaced each of the drawbacks with the benefits of paying for music.

  • Fast, reliable downloads
  • Pristine encoding
  • Previews of every song
  • Album cover art
  • Good Karma

The lesson: Great presentations have an antagonist — a problem — followed by a hero — the solution.

5. The genius in their craziness

In 1997, Jobs returned to Apple after a 12-year absence. Apple was close to bankruptcy at the time and was quickly running out of cash.

Near the end of Jobs’ keynote at Macworld in August 1997, he slowed the pace, lowered his voice, and said: “I think you always had to be a little different to buy an Apple computer. I think the people who do buy them are the creative spirits in the world. They are the people who are not out just to get a job done, they’re out to change the world.

We make tools for those kind of people. A lot of times, people think they’re crazy. But in that craziness, we see genius. And those are the people we’re making tools for.”

The lesson: Don’t forget to motivate your internal audience — your team, employees and partners. Give them a purpose to rally around.

When I wrote The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, I argued that Jobs was the world’s greatest brand storyteller. When I watch these presentations over again, I’m convinced he’s still the best role model for entrepreneurs who will pitch the next generation of ideas that will change the world.

Related: Top 10 Ways to Make Your Presentations More Memorable

 

Which Dystopian Novel Got It Right:

Orwell’s ‘1984’ or Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’?

In Bookends, two writers take on questions about the world of books. This week, Charles McGrath and Siddhartha Deb debate which classic dystopian vision rings truest at the beginning of 2017: George Orwell’s “1984” or Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.”

By Charles McGrath

Was Orwell right after all? Not yet. Trump would be much more comfortable in Huxley’s world.

Photo

Charles McGrath Credit Illustration by R. Kikuo Johnson

A month ago I would have said that not only is “Brave New World” a livelier, more entertaining book than “1984,” it’s also a more prescient one.

Orwell didn’t really have much feel for the future, which to his mind was just another version of the present. His imagined London is merely a drabber, more joyless version of the city, still recovering from the Blitz, where he was living in the mid-1940s, just before beginning the novel. The main technological advancement there is the two-way telescreen, essentially an electronic peephole.

Huxley, on the other hand, writing almost two decades earlier than Orwell (his former Eton pupil, as it happened), foresaw a world that included space travel; private helicopters; genetically engineered test tube babies; enhanced birth control; an immensely popular drug that appears to combine the best features of Valium and Ecstasy; hormone-laced chewing gum that seems to work the way Viagra does; a full sensory entertainment system that outdoes IMAX; and maybe even breast implants. (The book is a little unclear on this point, but in “Brave New World” the highest compliment you can pay a woman is to call her “pneumatic.”)

Huxley was not entirely serious about this. He began “Brave New World” as a parody of H.G. Wells, whose writing he detested, and it remained a book that means to be as playful as it is prophetic.

And yet his novel much more accurately evokes the country we live in now, especially in its depiction of a culture preoccupied with sex and mindless pop entertainment, than does Orwell’s more ominous book, which seems to be imagining someplace like North Korea.

So was Orwell right after all? Well, not yet.

For one thing, the political system of “1984” is an exaggerated version of anticapitalist, Stalin-era Communism, and Trump’s philosophy is anything but that. He would be much more comfortable in Huxley’s world, which is based on rampant consumerism and where hordes of genetically modified losers happily tend to the needs of the winners.

Huxley believed that his version of dystopia was the more plausible one.

In a 1949 letter, thanking Orwell for sending him a copy of “1984,” he wrote that he really didn’t think all that torture and jackbooting was necessary to subdue a population, and that he believed his own book offered a better solution. All you need to do, he said, is teach people to love their servitude.

The totalitarian rulers in Huxley’s book do this not by oppressing their citizens but by giving them exactly what they want, or what they think they want — which is basically sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll — and lulling them into complacency. (That’s exactly what the US has been offering its citizens in the last 50 years)

The system entails a certain Trump-like suspicion of science and dismissal of history, but that’s a price the inhabitants of Huxley’s world happily pay. They don’t mourn their lost liberty, the way Orwell’s Winston Smith does; they don’t even know it’s gone.

Charles McGrath was the editor of the Book Review from 1995 to 2004, and is now a contributing writer for The Times. Earlier he was the deputy editor and the head of the fiction department of The New Yorker. Besides The Times, he has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic and Outside. He is the editor of two golf books — “The Ultimate Golf Book” and “Golf Stories” — and is currently working on an edition of John O’Hara’s stories for the Library of America.

By Siddhartha Deb

Why stop at one of two books, as if the literary realm must mimic the denuded, lesser-of-two evils choices of electoral politics?

Photo

Siddhartha Deb Credit Illustration by R. Kikuo Johnson

There exists a comfortably predictable and, to my mind, uninspired approach to the dystopic novel and its powers of prognosis, a Pavlovian response that involves reaching for a copy of George Orwell’s “1984” or Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” whenever extreme turbulence hits the West.

Together they make up a short reading list, if a rather familiar one, redolent of high school literature classes and expanding, if forced, to Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We” and Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.”

That’s it, we’re done — a brief tour in four books to dystopias where the individual’s sense of freedom is always under threat from the totalitarian state.

The last few months have been hard, no doubt, the news more distressing by the hour, but there is still something perversely groupthinkish in the fact that the impulse of resistance has homed in on the same book, and that a measure of opposition to the horrors of the Trump administration is the climb of “1984” to No. 1 on Amazon.

There is much in Orwell’s novel, in fact, that translates poorly into the contemporary moment. From its texture of material deprivation, the loosely packed cigarettes and boiled cabbages recalling wartime rationing in Britain, to its portrayal of Ingsoc, Big Brother and various Ministries (Truth, Peace, Love, Plenty), all of which assume control by a heavily centralized State, it is a work very much of the ’40s as experienced by an English intellectual.

In “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” the American media critic Neil Postman in fact argued that Huxley’s novel was far more relevant than Orwell’s when it came to the United States, where the dominant mode of control over people was through entertainment, distraction, and superficial pleasure rather than through overt modes of policing and strict control over food supplies, at least when it came to managing the middle classes.

Three decades after Postman’s account, when we can add reality television, the internet and social media to the deadly amusements available, “Brave New World” can still seem strikingly relevant in its depiction of the relentless pursuit of pleasure.

From the use of soma as a kind of happiness drug to the erasure of the past not so much as a threat to government, as is the case in Orwell’s dystopia, but as simply irrelevant (“History is bunk”), Huxley marked out amusement and superficiality as the buttons that control

His relentless focus on the body, too, seems inspired, his understanding of what Michel Foucault identified as “biopolitics,” extending to the individual body as well as to entire populations and, in “Brave New World,” playing out as a eugenic system based on caste, class, race, looks and size.

As for his depiction of the “savage reservation” in New Mexico, this seems to foreshadow the fetishization of the natural on the part of one of the most artifice-ridden populations in the history of the world.

A great deal funnier, subtler and darker than Orwell’s book, Huxley’s satire nevertheless has its limitations.

A World State? Games of escalator squash? In any case, why stop at one of two books, as if the literary realm must mimic the denuded, lesser-of-two-evils choices of electoral politics?

There are other powerful fictional dystopias that speak to the United States of today, including a significant portion of the oeuvre of Philip K. Dick and Octavia E. Butler.

There is J.G. Ballard’s hallucinatory Reagan-era “Hello America,” with a future United States that has many contending presidents, including President Manson, who plays nuclear roulette in Las Vegas.

Why not read Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” and Sandra Newman’s “The Country of Ice Cream Star” and Anna North’s “America Pacifica” and Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven” and Claire Vaye Watkins’s “Gold Fame Citrus” and Vanessa Veselka’s “Zazen” and Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Water Knife”?

If the world is going dark, we may as well read as much as possible before someone turns off the light.

 

Carson McCullers at 100: a century of American suffering

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, her debut novel of desolate southern lives, made McCullers an instant star – something she never fully recovered from

“She found me a cheap boarding house somewhere on the west side, where there, cut off and lonely, I passed the day my first book was published,” wrote Carson McCullers in her memoir Illumination and Night Glare, describing the day her classic novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter was published.

Then 23, McCullers and her husband Reeves McCullers were penniless, awaiting the last portion of the advance on the book so that they, both aspiring writers, could move to New York City. Reeves had gone off to work on a boat on Nantucket island and McCullers had little premonition of the literary sensation the book would become – or how completely it would transform her life.

American author and playwright Carson McCullers, pictured around 1955.

‘Cut off and lonely’ Carson McCullers, pictured around 1955. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Turmoil was in the air that fervid summer in 1940.

Despite Roosevelt’s New Deal, the depredations of the Great Depression had sucked hope from America’s bones, birthed a generation that had only known want and that was sceptical of the possibility of change.

In small crowds around newsstands on city corners, uncertain Americans read about the war raging in Europe, but remained unsure as to whether it was “their” problem. Everyone, it seemed, wanted change and no one seemed to know how to hasten it, direct it or evaluate it. In this last sense, and possibly many more, America then was not so different from America now.

Where truth fails, fiction flourishes. In The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers, who would have turned 100 years old on Sunday, distilled all of these consternations, enabling in literature the self-reckoning that had been avoided in reality. Set in a southern mill town much like her own Columbus, Georgia, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter traces the hapless lives of five townspeople, all of whom are inexplicably drawn to a deaf-mute named John Singer.

There is the young Mick Kelly, a teenage girl who dreams of making it big; Biff Bannon, the middle-class owner of a local cafe; Jake Blount, the most overtly political character and Dr Benedict Copeland, the town’s African American doctor who rails against the inequities of a racist society, but is helpless against them. As they all interact with Singer, they fail to notice his pain or that he is mourning a loss of his own: the banishment of his friend Spiros Antonapoulos to an insane asylum.

It is a mad mix, but also an ingenious one. Some, like critic Nancy Rich, writing a decade after McCullers’s death in 1967, have declared it a political parable. Singer represents government and its ineffectuality, the vague dimensions of his character permitting the projections of all the rest. It’s a sad little bunch, each an iteration of the insoluble problems of that time: race, inequality, gutless conformity and the apathy of a silent and self-centred majority.

Can all of this come together to make up a country, a polity? The answer seemed elusive then, as it is in the US’s riven present, but The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter posed the questions, presented the problem.

McCullers was rewarded for her ingenuity. The glamour of becoming an overnight literary phenomenon brought with it new and famous friends – among them a Swiss heiress whose face, McCullers declared, “would haunt her for the rest of her life”. Not long after the book’s publication, McCullers moved in to the famous February House: a Brooklyn brownstone that became a salon and refuge for a gaggle of literary celebrities.

Parking her husband elsewhere – he had blossomed into an alcoholic – McCullers became housemates with the likes of WH Auden, Salvador Dali, Harper’s Bazaar editor George Davis and burlesque performer and author Gypsy Rose Lee.

The war had not yet begun, but McCullers had arrived. Everyone wanted to know her, to talk to her, to live with her. All the magazines – Harper’s, the New Yorker, Story and scores of others who had once rejected her work – now clamoured to see what she would produce next.

Great success births great expectations and it may well have been this burden that shattered McCullers. She kept writing, but none of her ensuing works would parallel the acclaim of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. Some would be painful disappointments. Her second novel, Reflections in a Golden Eye, was set in a military base in peacetime and toyed with voyeurism and implied homosexuality.

While eagerly awaited, it met the fate of many second novels and was deemed an unworthy successor of a brilliant first. McCullers’ health also failed; the afflictions of her youth, among them misdiagnosed rheumatic fever, left her susceptible to strokes that eventually paralysed her. The writer could write no more but she persevered, dictating her autobiography until, in August 1967, the last stroke killed her. She was only 50 years old.

The glib and ruthless pronouncements of her lost literary genius were likely not an easy burden to bear. The pages of McCullers’ unfinished memoir are laden with accounts of her associations with celebrities (including Marilyn Monroe) – a small antidote, perhaps, to the torment of being labelled a one-hit wonder.

The sharp girl who had cast such an unforgiving eye on the world around her became a woman imprisoned by her own initial success and her inability to replicate it. The transformation from an outsider who cast her acid gaze on ordinary America and squeezed from it caustic truths, to a member of New York’s literati, came at too dear a price.

McCullers, who had so adeptly captured the desolation of her moment and constructed from a grim reality a distinctly American political parable, was left a famous author but a lesser writer.

Chronic fatigue syndrome? Disease doctors can’t diagnose?

Five years ago, TED Fellow Jennifer Brea became progressively ill with myalgic encephalomyelitis, commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome, a debilitating illness that severely impairs normal activities and on bad days makes even the rustling of bed sheets unbearable.

Brea describes the obstacles she’s encountered in seeking treatment for her condition, whose root causes and physical effects we don’t fully understand, as well as her mission to document through film the lives of patients that medicine struggles to treat.

Jennifer Brea. Filmmaker. PhD student at Harvard when, one night, she found she couldn’t write her own name. Full bio

 [Jennifer Brea is sound-sensitive. The live audience was asked to applaud ASL-style, in silence.]

0:24 Five years ago, this was me. I was a PhD student at Harvard, and I loved to travel. I had just gotten engaged to marry the love of my life. I was 28, and like so many of us when we are in good health, I felt invincible.

Then one day I had a fever of 104.7 degrees. I probably should have gone to the doctor, but I’d never really been sick in my life, and I knew that usually, if you have a virus, you stay home and you make some chicken soup, and in a few days, everything will be fine.

But this time it wasn’t fine. After the fever broke, for three weeks I was so dizzy, I couldn’t leave my house. I would walk straight into door frames. I had to hug the walls just to make it to the bathroom.

That spring I got infection after infection, and every time I went to the doctor, he said there was absolutely nothing wrong. He had his laboratory tests, which always came back normal.

All I had were my symptoms, which I could describe, but no one else can see. I know it sounds silly, but you have to find a way to explain things like this to yourself, and so I thought maybe I was just aging. Maybe this is what it’s like to be on the other side of 25.

 The neurological symptoms started. Sometimes I would find that I couldn’t draw the right side of a circle. Other times I wouldn’t be able to speak or move at all.

I saw every kind of specialist: infectious disease doctors, dermatologists, endocrinologists, cardiologists. I even saw a psychiatrist. My psychiatrist said, “It’s clear you’re really sick, but not with anything psychiatric. I hope they can find out what’s wrong with you.”

Patsy Z shared this link· 23 hrs ·
ted.com|By Jennifer Brea

The next day, my neurologist diagnosed me with conversion disorder. He told me that everything — the fevers, the sore throats, the sinus infection, all of the gastrointestinal, neurological and cardiac symptoms — were being caused by some distant emotional trauma that I could not remember. The symptoms were real, he said, but they had no biological cause.

I was training to be a social scientist. I had studied statistics, probability theory, mathematical modeling, experimental design.

I felt like I couldn’t just reject my neurologist’s diagnosis. It didn’t feel true, but I knew from my training that the truth is often counterintuitive, so easily obscured by what we want to believe. So I had to consider the possibility that he was right.

That day, I ran a small experiment. I walked back the two miles from my neurologist’s office to my house, my legs wrapped in this strange, almost electric kind of pain. I meditated on that pain, contemplating how my mind could have possibly generated all this.

As soon as I walked through the door, I collapsed. My brain and my spinal cord were burning. My neck was so stiff I couldn’t touch my chin to my chest, and the slightest sound — the rustling of the sheets, my husband walking barefoot in the next room — could cause excruciating pain. I would spend most of the next two years in bed.

How could my doctor have gotten it so wrong? I thought I had a rare disease, something doctors had never seen.

And then I went online and found thousands of people all over the world living with the same symptoms, similarly isolated, similarly disbelieved.

Some could still work, but had to spend their evenings and weekends in bed, just so they could show up the next Monday. On the other end of the spectrum, some were so sick they had to live in complete darkness, unable to tolerate the sound of a human voice or the touch of a loved one.

 I was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis. You’ve probably heard it called “chronic fatigue syndrome.” For decades, that’s a name that’s meant that this has been the dominant image of a disease that can be as serious as this.

The key symptom we all share is that whenever we exert ourselves — physically, mentally — we pay and we pay hard. If my husband goes for a run, he might be sore for a couple of days. If I try to walk half a block, I might be bedridden for a week.

It is a perfect custom prison. I know ballet dancers who can’t dance, accountants who can’t add, medical students who never became doctors. It doesn’t matter what you once were; you can’t do it anymore. It’s been four years, and I’ve still never been as well as I was the minute before I walked home from my neurologist’s office.

It’s estimated that about 15 to 30 million people around the world have this disease. In the US, where I’m from, it’s about one million people. That makes it roughly twice as common as multiple sclerosis.

Patients can live for decades with the physical function of someone with congestive heart failure. Twenty-five percent of us are homebound or bedridden, and 75 to 85 percent of us can’t even work part-time. Yet doctors do not treat us and science does not study us. How could a disease this common and this devastating have been forgotten by medicine?

When my doctor diagnosed me with conversion disorder, he was invoking a lineage of ideas about women’s bodies that are over 2,500 years old. The Roman physician Galen thought that hysteria was caused by sexual deprivation in particularly passionate women.

The Greeks thought the uterus would literally dry up and wander around the body in search of moisture, pressing on internal organs — yes — causing symptoms from extreme emotions to dizziness and paralysis. The cure was marriage and motherhood.

These ideas went largely unchanged for several millennia until the 1880s, when neurologists tried to modernize the theory of hysteria. Sigmund Freud developed a theory that the unconscious mind could produce physical symptoms when dealing with memories or emotions too painful for the conscious mind to handle. It converted these emotions into physical symptoms. This meant that men could now get hysteria, but of course women were still the most susceptible.

When I began investigating the history of my own disease, I was amazed to find how deep these ideas still run. In 1934, 198 doctors, nurses and staff at the Los Angeles County General Hospital became seriously ill.

They had muscle weakness, stiffness in the neck and back, fevers — all of the same symptoms I had when I first got diagnosed. Doctors thought it was a new form of polio. Since then, there have been more than 70 outbreaks documented around the world, of a strikingly similar post-infectious disease. All of these outbreaks have tended to disproportionately affect women, and in time, when doctors failed to find the one cause of the disease, they thought that these outbreaks were mass hysteria.

Why has this idea had such staying power? I do think it has to do with sexism, but I also think that fundamentally, doctors want to help.

They want to know the answer, and this category allows doctors to treat what would otherwise be untreatable, to explain illnesses that have no explanation. The problem is that this can cause real harm.

In the 1950s, a psychiatrist named Eliot Slater studied a cohort of 85 patients who had been diagnosed with hysteria. Nine years later, 12 of them were dead and 30 had become disabled. Many had undiagnosed conditions like multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, brain tumors.

In 1980, hysteria was officially renamed “conversion disorder.” When my neurologist gave me that diagnosis in 2012, he was echoing Freud’s words verbatim, and even today, women are 2 to 10 times more likely to receive that diagnosis.

The problem with the theory of hysteria or psychogenic illness is that it can never be proven.

It is by definition the absence of evidence, and in the case of ME, psychological explanations have held back biological research.

All around the world, ME is one of the least funded diseases. In the US, we spend each year roughly 2,500 dollars per AIDS patient, 250 dollars per MS patient and just 5 dollars per year per ME patient. This was not just lightning. I was not just unlucky. The ignorance surrounding my disease has been a choice, a choice made by the institutions that were supposed to protect us.

We don’t know why ME sometimes runs in families, why you can get it after almost any infection, from enteroviruses to Epstein-Barr virus to Q fever, or why it affects women at two to three times the rate of men.

This issue is much bigger than just my disease. When I first got sick, old friends were reaching out to me. I soon found myself a part of a cohort of women in their late 20s whose bodies were falling apart. What was striking was just how much trouble we were having being taken seriously.

I learned of one woman with scleroderma, an autoimmune connective tissue disease, who was told for years that it was all in her head. Between the time of onset and diagnosis, her esophagus was so thoroughly damaged, she will never be able to eat again. Another woman with ovarian cancer, who for years was told that it was just early menopause. A friend from college, whose brain tumor was misdiagnosed for years as anxiety.

 Here’s why this worries me: since the 1950s, rates of many autoimmune diseases have doubled to tripled.

Forty-five percent of patients who are eventually diagnosed with a recognized autoimmune disease are initially told they’re hypochondriacs. Like the hysteria of old, this has everything to do with gender and with whose stories we believe.

Seventy-five percent of autoimmune disease patients are women, and in some diseases, it’s as high as 90 percent.

Even though these diseases disproportionately affect women, they are not women’s diseases. ME affects children and ME affects millions of men.

And as one patient told me, we get it coming and going — if you’re a woman, you’re told you’re exaggerating your symptoms, but if you’re a guy, you’re told to be strong, to buck up. And men may even have a more difficult time getting diagnosed.

 My brain is not what it used to be.

Here’s the good part: despite everything, I still have hope. So many diseases were once thought of as psychological until science uncovered their biological mechanisms.

Patients with epilepsy could be forcibly institutionalized until the EEG was able to measure abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Multiple sclerosis could be misdiagnosed as hysterical paralysis until the CAT scan and the MRI discovered brain lesions. And recently, we used to think that stomach ulcers were just caused by stress, until we discovered that H. pylori was the culprit.

ME has never benefited from the kind of science that other diseases have had, but that’s starting to change. In Germany, scientists are starting to find evidence of autoimmunity, and in Japan, of brain inflammation. In the US, scientists at Stanford are finding abnormalities in energy metabolism that are 16 standard deviations away from normal. And in Norway, researchers are running a phase-3 clinical trial on a cancer drug that in some patients causes complete remission.

What also gives me hope is the resilience of patients. Online we came together, and we shared our stories. We devoured what research there was. We experimented on ourselves. We became our own scientists and our own doctors because we had to be.

And slowly I added five percent here, five percent there, until eventually, on a good day, I was able to leave my home. I still had to make ridiculous choices: Will I sit in the garden for 15 minutes, or will I wash my hair today? But it gave me hope that I could be treated. I had a sick body; that was all. And with the right kind of help, maybe one day I could get better.

 I came together with patients around the world, and we started to fight. We have filled the void with something wonderful, but it is not enough. I still don’t know if I will ever be able to run again, or walk at any distance, or do any of those kinetic things that I now only get to do in my dreams. But I am so grateful for how far I have come. Progress is slow, and it is up and it is down, but I am getting a little better each day.

I remember what it was like when I was stuck in that bedroom, when it had been months since I had seen the sun. I thought that I would die there. But here I am today, with you, and that is a miracle.

 I don’t know what would have happened had I not been one of the lucky ones, had I gotten sick before the internet, had I not found my community. I probably would have already taken my own life, as so many others have done. How many lives could we have saved, decades ago, if we had asked the right questions? How many lives could we save today if we decide to make a real start?

15:56 Even once the true cause of my disease is discovered, if we don’t change our institutions and our culture, we will do this again to another disease.

Living with this illness has taught me that science and medicine are profoundly human endeavors. Doctors, scientists and policy makers are not immune to the same biases that affect all of us.

16:22 We need to think in more nuanced ways about women’s health. Our immune systems are just as much a battleground for equality as the rest of our bodies. We need to listen to patients’ stories, and we need to be willing to say, “I don’t know.” “I don’t know” is a beautiful thing.

“I don’t know” is where discovery starts. And if we can do that, if we can approach the great vastness of all that we do not know, and then, rather than fear uncertainty, maybe we can greet it with a sense of wonder

Mistinguett of The Moulin Rouge:  Biggest star insured legs for 500,000 francs in 1919

Mistinguett  was a French actress and singer, whose birth name was Jeanne Florentine Bourgeois. She was at one time the highest-paid female entertainer in the world.

Once during a tour of the United States, Mistinguett was asked by Time magazine to explain her popularity. Her answer was, “It is a kind of magnetism. I say  ‘Come closer’ and draw them to me.

Mistinguett, born in poverty, was not particularly beautiful but had an undeniably quick wit. She wanted to build her own life and said “the poor suburbs, it’s not enough just to want to get out.

I had a talent: life. All the rest remains to be done, to be thought about. I couldn’t allow myself just to be a beautiful animal, I had to think of everything”. A peerless businesswoman, she first listened carefully then captivated.

Source
Source

 

 Maurice Chevalier and Mistinguett, Source
Maurice Chevalier and Mistinguett, Source

 

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Source

 

 Mistinguett and Josephine Baker in 1927. Source
Mistinguett and Josephine Baker in 1927. Source

At an early age Mistinguett.aspired to be an entertainer. She began as a flower seller in a restaurant in her hometown, singing popular ballads as she sold blossoms.

After taking classes in theatre and singing, she began her career as an entertainer in 1885. One day on the train to Paris for a violin lesson, she met Saint-Marcel, who directed the revue at the Casino de Paris.

He engaged her first as a stage-hand, and here she began to pursue her goal to become an entertainer, experimenting with various stage-names, being successively Miss Helyett, Miss Tinguette, Mistinguette and, finally, Mistinguett.

 

 Mistinguett at the Moulin Rouge Source
Mistinguett at the Moulin Rouge Source

Bourgeois made her debut as Mistinguett at the Casino de Paris in 1895 and went on to appear in venues such as the Folies Bergère, Moulin Rouge and Eldorado.

She was at one time the highest-paid female entertainer in the world.

thevintagenews.com

Her risqué routines captivated Paris, and she went on to become the most popular French entertainer of her time and the highest paid female entertainer in the world, known for her flamboyance and a zest for the theatrical.In 1919 her legs were insured for 500,000 francs.

 Mistinguett in her Chrysler, Deauville, France, 1929 Source
Mistinguett in her Chrysler, Deauville, France, 1929 Source

 

 Mistinguett in the United States in 1924 Source
Mistinguett in the United States in 1924 Source

 

 Mistinguett poster, 1911 Source
Mistinguett poster, 1911 Source

 

 Mistinguett sitting on her Chrysler with a group of photographers in Deauville in 1929. Source
Mistinguett sitting on her Chrysler with a group of photographers in Deauville in 1929. Source

 

 Mistinguett Source
Mistinguett Source

 

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Mistinguett died in Bougival, France, at the age of 80, attended by her son, a doctor.

She is buried in the Cimetière Enghien-les-Bains, Île-de-France, France.

Upon her death, writer Jean Cocteau observed in an obituary, “Her voice, slightly off-key, was that of the Parisian street hawkers—the husky, trailing voice of the Paris people.

She was of the animal race that owes nothing to intellectualism. She incarnated herself. She flattered a French patriotism that was not shameful. It is normal now that she should crumble, like the other caryatids of that great and marvelous epoch that was ours”.


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