December 2011

Living in History

December 29, 2011

. I am reading Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands. I would be interested in the history anyway, but I have a personal interest too. Snyder identifies the “bloodlands” thus: The bloodlands were where most of Europe’s Jews lived, where Hitler and Stalin’s imperial plans overlapped, where the Wehrmacht and the Red Army fought, and where the Soviet [...]


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Diction and Democracy

December 27, 2011

. The Huffington Post/Chronicle of Higher Education offered a well-written and observed overview late last week of the Vendler-Dove conflict regarding Dove’s Penguin anthology of twentieth century poetry. Author Peter Monaghan kindly cited my own “The Politics in Poetry” a couple of times, but he unfortunately covered only the more easily reviewed cultural politics – [...]


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For Your Transcendental Weekend

December 24, 2011

. Active Child, “You Are All I See.”


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Tea Party Bolshevism

December 22, 2011

. Today is a good day to reiterate the essential nature of the Tea Party and contemporary GOP political impulse in practice. As even Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell calls on House Republicans to compromise and pass the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, we need understand not how, but why we got here. What we [...]


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Christopher Hitchens, Glenn Greenwald, and the War of Ideas

December 21, 2011

John Cook of Gawker writes of Christopher Hitchens that he “loathed sentiment, welcomed combat, and delighted in inflicting hard truths.” Cook undoubtedly means “sentimentality,” which masquerades everywhere as sentiment, in which case he is indisputably right about Hitchens, who would have begrudged those now attacking him only the regrettable spectacle (he surely would have believed) [...]


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The Hitchens Post

December 16, 2011

. In the end, no one will be remembered, a monumental few for a very long time. Others, favored by fortune still, and the riches of their own beings – big, big people – leave a hole when they depart. The air is sucked out of the room, which subsides into a banal kind of [...]


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Perspective (Oh, Yeah) on Israel and the U.S.

December 15, 2011

. Two days ago, in a column causing some commotion – “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby” – Tom Friedman wrote this: It confuses [many Jewish American students] to read a Financial Times article from Israel on Monday, that said: “In recent weeks, the country has been consumed by an anguished debate over [...]


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The Politics in Poetry: Vendler vs. Dove

December 13, 2011

. Poetry is relevant! I kid poetry. Poetry is always relevant. What do you think The Iliad was doing if it wasn’t writing the history of the victors? The inept and cowardly Paris stole Helen from Menelaus – sure. I wonder how the Trojans might have told that story. It has also long been facile [...]


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Art on the Brain

December 7, 2011

. Welcome brainiac, hail mensch. From Alva Noë, “Art and the Limits of Neuroscience“: What we do know is that a healthy brain is necessary for normal mental life, and indeed, for any life at all. But of course much else is necessary for mental life. We need roughly normal bodies and a roughly normal environment. [...]


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Myanmar, Not Forgotten in the Darkness

December 6, 2011

. During the 1990s and into the next century, I was a member of a local Amnesty International group. We were a rich and varied assemblage: Iranian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Swedish, Jewish and other American-born, Spanish; businessmen, professors, students, JPL employees, journalists, future lawyers. Among the central tasks of a local Amnesty group is to take [...]


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Everything Old is Newt Again

December 2, 2011

. I’ve taken some time off for real life this week – that oddly embodied and sensate earthly manifestation so much more vivid than Cyberlife. It’s been a trip. I kinda liked it, so – I don’t know – worldly. Still, I have received communiqués from that way station between the two worlds – political [...]


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