The Pnyx and the Angora

Richard Sennett discusses the use of space that contributed to the political richness of ancient Athens and suggests modern designers could follow suit.

“Difference” today seems about identity — we think of race, gender, or class. Aristotle’s meant something more by difference; he included also the experience of doing different things, of acting in divergent ways which do not neatly fit together. The mixture in a city of action as well as identity is the foundation of its distinctive politics.

Mona Lisa’s Smile

Walter Isaason’s beautiful account of how Leonardo’s expertise in human anatomy and art combined to make him the only person who could’ve painted Mona Lisa’s smile.

Stand before the Mona Lisa, and the science and the magic and the art all blur together into an augmented reality. While Leonardo worked on it, for most of the last 16 years of his life, it became more than a portrait of an individual. It became universal, a distillation of Leonardo’s accumulated wisdom about the outward manifestations of our inner lives and about the connections between ourselves and our world. Like Vitruvian Man standing in the square of the Earth and the circle of the heavens, Lisa sitting on her balcony is Leonardo’s profound meditation on what it means to be human.