Moved to Sing

To prod students to think about why academic conversations tend to take place on the page, I ask them, toward the end of the semester, to reflect on the virtues of writing and explain what they believe writing can offer that other communicative mediums—e.g. television, film, music, etc—cannot. I believe this to be an important …

Continue reading

Worry = Sanity

Says one wise citizen to another after the death of Edward IV in Richard III: Truly, the hearts of men are full of fear. You cannot reason almost with a man That looks not heavily and full of dread.

Continue reading

Slowness

Each time I land at JFK, I’m amazed at what an incredibly ugly hurry everyone seems to be in. Perhaps my always coming from California, a much more dignified place, exacerbates my shock. Nevertheless, a question for New Yorkers: isn’t being in a hurry less attractive than composure and deliberateness? For the answer, one need …

Continue reading

Fighting Fire With Arson: A Response to Yale Professor Robert J. Schiller’s misguided but not unexpected piece on the housing bubble, titled “Infectious Exuberance” and appearing in the July/August 2008 Atlantic.

Shiller believes our two recent “epidemics of financial optimism” (the dot-com and real estate bubbles) could be followed by a more disastrous financial epidemic if “irrational pessimism and mistrust” manage to spread from the lips and fingertips of sourpuss chicken-little financial pundits to the wider population. According to the author this third epidemic is easily …

Continue reading

The Pleasure of Despair

Two Russians approached in a spit-shined truck w/corporate logo. I didn’t yet know they were Russians but one look and I knew. The driver had a shiny and ruddy face and a pleasant smile. When he nodded hello, smoldering gray bits of cigarette ash tumbled down his chest. He didn’t seem to notice, expressing immediate …

Continue reading

The World is Too Much With Us

I watched Clash of the Titans last night to perform my solemn FCC-like duty of identifying any language, images, or other content unsuitable for my wife’s 7th grade students. I claimed never to have seen it before, but as Perseus approached his climactic battle with Medusa I admitted that the mechanical owl, Harry Hamlin’s lips, …

Continue reading

Easter Reflections

One must be prepared to lay down one’s life for others, while praying devoutly that one is never called upon to do anything so thoroughly disagreeable. Terry Eagleton in Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic. Since both Mark and Matthew have it that “their eyes were heavy,” it seems clear the Gospel writers want …

Continue reading

What does it take to cause agony in another human being?

Last night, I turned away from the HBO miniseries Elizabeth. A man had attempted to kill the queen and he was being stretched on the rack in a creepy, dark, moist, windowless and hell-like torturing dungeon. The putative and apparent goal of the torture was to extract “information” from the man, who had been acting, …

Continue reading