The Nineties happened some time between the Queen’s 1887 Jubilee and the trial of Oscar Wilde in 1895, at which point The News of the World was pleased to announce that ‘The aesthetic cult in the nasty form is over’. Even at this remove, the period continues to exert a quasi-mystical fascination, with its taint of sybaritism, suicide and sin, genius and degeneracy, high aspirations and low vices perversely intertwined. Stokes’s publishers have been at pains to stress these saleable qualities in their publicity material, since the author has elected to look at this colourful decade resolutely in black and white, chiefly through the medium of contemporary newspapers, magazine articles and other little-read ‘texts’ such as Max Nordau’s Degeneration, a fine example of the early Paul Johnson style of middlebrow vituperation.
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The minimalist Fumio Sasaki 'confesses that as he began to purchase fewer consumer goods, his meals shrank in size. He decluttered and lost weight. Accumulation is not just an economic way of life but a form of embodiment too. Enlightenment is reduction.'
'The river’s desecration mirrors Colombia’s long history of violence: "for years we treated it like a sewer," says Ahmed, a survivor of a particularly brutal paramilitary massacre, "just like we treated each other".'
Patrick Wilcken on the Magdalena.
It's 'all lively and entertaining but rather too black and white. Her account of British politics and the success of the Brexit campaign verges on the cartoonish.'
@David_Goodhart on Anne Applebaum's 'Twilight on Democracy'.