The Best Stuff We've Read this Week

Josh Clark

Blood, Sweat and Fears. The author of this article published in the Stanford Medicine journal, John Sanford, chronicles his own fear of blood, which is, it turns out, one-third of a triumvirate of related fears, called a blood-injury-injection phobia. What sets this phobia apart from most other phobias is the physical response it cultivates in the individual - namely the potential for making a person faint. Interestingly, the phobia, as debilitating as it can be, is surprisingly curable without medications.

There is Only Awe. Rachel Aviv in the magazine n+1 publishes a book review of a compilation of the work of pioneering Princeton psychologist Julian Jaynes, who bucked his field by publishing a prosaic explanation of consciousness in humans that makes utter sense but largely circumvents the scientific method. To Jaynes (and his later followers), human consciousness, that is the awareness of the self and the volition we have through it, is extremely young; Jaynes places its emergence at some point after the 8th century BCE. What is (also) so thoroughly engrossing about Jaynes ideas is that it pretty convincingly explains the emergence of the world's modern religions. A pretty good primer of Julian Jaynes that will make you want to read his original work.

2010: Paul Warner Powell, jurisprudentially confused. Headsman, the author behind the blog ExecutedToday.com, examines the case of a Virgina white supremacist who murdered one girl and a short while later raped (and attempted to murder) her sister. What makes the story of Powell's case interesting is that he originally escaped execution on a technicality; (incorrectly) convinced he was protected by double jeopardy, Powell boasted in writing to the prosecutor details about the crime, delivering to the state the information they needed to convict him of a capital crime and put him in the electric chair.

Is it time for a fern bar revival? This short Washington Post article examines the rise of the fern bar, which we didn't even realize was a thing. The fern bar -- the type of bar Jack Tripper frequented in Three's Company and that gave rise to chains like TGI Friday's -- is, it turns out, no so much an overlooked part of the history of bars as a studiously ignored one. This brief primer contains a mention of a lengthier San Francisco Chronicle article on the topic that is worth looking up we think.

'I Know What The Shining Is Really About': Inside the Crowded Cult at the Overlook Hotel. Mark Jacobson, writing in the most recent issue of New York magazine, covers the subculture surrounding the Stanley Kubrick improving film adaptation of Stephen King's novel The Shining. As depicted in the documentary Room 237, Kubrick's film has prompted some deep meditation on what his film really means, from metaphors for Native American genocide, to an apology for him faking the moon landing, to the idea that we don't yet have a means of understanding the transcendent message the director used his film to convey. The author even develops his own theory.