Sunday, January 7, 2018
Compass, by Matias Énard
Agamemnon's Daughter, by Ismail Kadare
Escape from Freedom, by Erich Fromm
Theory of the Novel, by Guido Mazzoni
Love as Human Freedom, by Paul A. Kottman
No Name in the Street, by James Baldwin
In a Lonely Place, by Dorothy B. Hughes
Dark Ecology, by Timothy Morton
Almost No Memory, by Lydia Davis
The Blind Owl, by Sadegh Hedayat
Men We Reaped, by Jesmyn Ward
Kingdom Cons, by Yuri Herrera
The Last Wolf, by Laszlo Krasznahorkai
Translation as Transhumance, by Mireille Gansel
Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid
The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy, by Michael McCarthy
On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder
Perfect Wave, by Dave Hickey
Lives Other Than My Own, by Emmanuel Carrère
Like Death, by Guy de Maupassant
Satchmo: The Genius of Louis Armstrong, by Gary Giddins
Joyous applause and a special mention for two extraordinary new translations:
The Odyssey, as translated by Emily Wilson
The Golden Ass, as translated by Sarah Ruden
Saturday, January 28, 2017
— D.H. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literature
Sunday, November 27, 2016
A country that has transformed its colleges and universities from schools of rhetoric, science, and the arts into job training centers that leave new trainees with no guarantee of employment and often with crushing debt.
A country whose most recognizable heroic role models come from comic books written for newly pubescent males.
A country that regularly advertises and airs human cage-fighting on its major television channels, during primetime family programming.
A country that has re-labelled decency, civility, and kindness as "political correctness."
A country that has been erotically dulled by the newly ubiquitous presence of joyless, loveless pornography.
A country that claims as its favorite sport a brain-destroying gladiatorial battle, run by a multi-billion dollar corporation, in massive arenas, between drug-enhanced, heavily-armored, faceless members of its poverty class.
A country that no longer turns to professional journalists for news and information but relies upon a single corporation's personalized "newsfeed," which has been specifically designed to reinforce the particular beliefs of each reader.
A country that refuses to see a commonly-organized, commonly-shared defense against illness and accident as a social good.
A country that uses science to create vast wealth, extraordinary luxury, and unprecedentedly long lifespans, while openly and unapologetically dismissing the most important scientific discovery in its history: that its lifestyle is rapidly destroying the global ecosystem.
A country that represents 4.4% of the world's population yet incarcerates 22% of its prisoners—and that, as a matter of legal practice, regularly executes some of those prisoners.
A country in which its college-aged population spends, on average, eight hours a day looking at a cellphone screen.
And, lastly, ironically, a country that rejects, for the only political office beholden to the general population, the actual vote of the general population, and relies instead upon a Constitutional gimmick put in place at its founding to secure the support of those citizens at the time who practiced human slavery.
Friday, January 8, 2016
Just an open letter to all my friends and family who voted for president O'Bama. From here on out I am asking just a little favor. I would like to know how I am suppose to measure his successes.... You create the criteria and then stick by it. YOU tell me what success is in O'Bama's presidency so that I can measure it.... How will you have me measure it? Starting ...NOW. Oh... and by the way...not opinions... source each "success" with an article that supports your statement that he has succeeded in the categories that you have previously defined.Earlier this week, I remembered that I'd responded to his appeal. I couldn't recall what I'd written, however; so, out of curiosity, I looked up my response, to see if, in fact, the president, whom I have come to regard as an extraordinary success, had met my criteria for success as I'd set it forth on that particular day. A year remains in his presidency, of course, and history makes clear that anything can happen, just about. Nevertheless, below I've pasted what I wrote, formatted here as an organized checklist, with my evaluation of his performance. I have provided links for the sources in support of my evaluation, as my cousin requested.
Outcome: Private sector jobs have grown dramatically under Obama, but public sector jobs have now begun to grow as well, very slightly. Therefore, Partial Success.
Outcome: Obama has used executive orders to mitigate the destructive effects of our inhumane immigration policies. But executive orders are not a long-term solution. Therefore, Partial Success.
Outcome: Fewer warheads, but a commitment to modernize our nuclear arsenal rather than radically cut it. Therefore, Partial Success.
Outcome: Not the person I had in mind, and ultimately something of a failure, but Obama gave me what I asked for. Therefore, Success.
Source: The last seven years.
Outcome: Despite all of the above, Abject Failure.
Source: My cousin's Facebook Timeline.
In summary: Obama has achieved either Success or Partial Success in all twelve measurements.
In other words, I have, like tens of millions of other Americans, gotten what I voted for. Well done, Mr. President.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
During the pregame warm-ups, the boys lined up along the sideline to watch. Players for both teams came and went. Eventually the boys were escorted onto the field and introduced. Someone sang the National Anthem. The boys then marched in single file to the sideline, to be escorted from the field. Prior to their exit, one player — only one — came over and gave every one of them a high-five: Patrick Willis.
I don't watch football much anymore. Given what what it does to the players, it has lost much of its charm. But I used to love watching the game and always loved watching Patrick Willis. Since the day he arrived in San Francisco, he has been — was — the best player on the team. He is, as far as I'm concerned, the greatest middle linebacker of his generation.
And I've come to believe that there is a connection, however small, between his gesture that day — his thoughtfulness — and his greatness. How ironic, I thought then, that the best player on the team is the one who thought to come over and congratulate those little boys. But perhaps it's not ironic at all. Perhaps it's all of a piece. The same character, the same attention to detail, that made Patrick Willis football's best linebacker for nearly decade also made him pause to come shake my son's hand.
Monday, March 2, 2015
Which struck America then and strikes me now as some kind of stupefying miracle.
We haven't lived up to that miracle, needless to say, but it is part of our inheritance. It has made possible other miracles, including the one I witnessed at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company on November 4, 2008. That miracle was earned, like Selma, by decades of suffering, and likely occurred—like Selma—in part so that white America could restore for itself the myth of its innocence. Regardless, it occurred, and I witnessed it and will never forget it.
I was raised to ask for miracles by praying. And it was nice to think that miracles could come from prayer. But prayer, when it plays any role whatsoever, is basically the singer warming her voice. In the end, miracles are earned by hard work and good thinking. Dr. King, to our great good fortune, knew how to think. He understood that to "lift white consciousness," it was necessary to deploy white America against itself. The myth of white innocence could not tolerate the sight of white cruelty. Innocence Lost mandated Innocence Restored. Fair enough, Dr. King said: If your myth is important you, it could use some defending in Selma.
When the march finally happens, after blood has run in the streets, the film rewards us with archival footage of the real-life marchers. One is struck by the joy in their faces. It is, dare I say, divine joy. Dr. King was tired and would soon be dead. But his marchers were not tired and perhaps—Hands Up, Don't Shoot!—still aren't.