Running among the butterflies

Because there, each summer, thousands—no, hundreds of thousands—of butterflies would gather, and I would run among them, chasing them, all those brilliant hues floating about. I never actually tried to catch any. It was just the swarming of all that color. And that was my initial association when I saw the slides of Shapinsky’s paintings for the first time. They reminded me of the butterflies back in Calcutta, and the rhythms of classical Indian dance, too—another great passion of mine. I knew I must be in the presence of a profound art if it could inspire associations like that.”

— SHAPINSKY’S KARMA
By Lawrence Weschler (The New Kings Of Nonfiction, edited by Ira Glass)

Six degrees of separation

Milgram’s idea was to test this question with a chain letter. For one experiment, he got the names of a hundred and sixty people, at random, who lived in Omaha, Nebraska, and he mailed each of them a packet. In the packet was the name and address of a stockbroker who worked in Boston and lived in Sharon, Massachusetts. Each person was instructed to write his name on a roster in the packet and send it on to a friend or acquaintance who he thought would get it closer to the stockbroker. The idea was that when the letters finally arrived at the stockbroker’s house Milgram could look at the roster of names and establish how closely connected someone chosen at random from one part of the country was to another person chosen at random in another part. Milgram found that most of the letters reached the stockbroker in five or six steps. It is from this experiment that we got the concept of six degrees of separation.

Malcolm Gladwell —Six Degrees Olof Lois Weinberg (The New Kings Of Nonfiction, edited by Ira Glass)

A diorama of the twentieth century and all its plagues

The more I studied Stringfellow, though, the less it seemed to me to be simply a complex of lawsuits. It became, in my mind, a diorama of the twentieth century and all its plagues: complexity, chaos, existential fear, tedium, colossal wads of money, and a neo-medieval conviction that the objective truth is attainable if only one can spend enough money and take enough depositions.

Jack Hitt —TOXIC DREAMS: A CALIFORNIA TOWN FINDS MEANING IN AN ACID PIT Lewis (The New Kings Of Nonfiction, edited by Ira Glass)