Memories of Hot Summers Elsewhere

Talking about the weather is supposedly a concession, an admission that a conversation has run aground, spun off into irrelevancies; nothing, it seems, quite shows the lack of an agenda for an exchange of words like a discussion about the heat, the cold, the rain. Well, I admit defeat; I admit I’m tongue-tied and incoherent.Continue reading “Memories of Hot Summers Elsewhere”

The ‘Victims’ of ‘Realistic Literature’

In 1965, Gordon Lloyd Harper interviewed Saul Bellow for the Paris Review (9.36, 1966, 48-73). During the interview the following exchange took place: INTERVIEWER It’s been said that contemporary fiction sees man as a victim. You gave this title to one of your early novels [The Victim], yet there seems to be very strong oppositionContinue reading “The ‘Victims’ of ‘Realistic Literature’”

Kundera on the Novel’s Powers of ‘Incorporation’

In ‘Notes inspired by The Sleepwalkers‘ (by Hermann Broch), Milan Kundera writes: Broch…pursues ‘what the novel alone can discover.’ But he knows that the conventional form (grounded exclusively in a character’s adventure, and content with a mere narration of that adventure) limits the novel, reduces its cognitive capacities. He also knows that the novel has anContinue reading “Kundera on the Novel’s Powers of ‘Incorporation’”

General Petraeus at CUNY: Poor Judgment Under Fire

General David Petraeus‘ $200,000 deal with CUNY is no longer on; he will now teach in the fall at CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College for the princely sum of $1. Yesterday, I participated in a Huffington Post Live segment–along with Cary Nelson, former president of the American Association of University Professors and Kieran Lalor of the NewContinue reading “General Petraeus at CUNY: Poor Judgment Under Fire”

The Perils and Pleasures of the Scatological

Warning: Please do not continue reading if scatological references and language upset and offend you. A couple of weeks ago, I traveled with some friends to upstate New York. We were on a Members’ Appreciation trip organized by the farm that supplies our local community supported agriculture collective (CSA) with its beef, pork, chicken andContinue reading “The Perils and Pleasures of the Scatological”

William Pfaff on the Indispensability of Clerical Leadership

In reviewing Garry Wills‘ Why Priests? A Failed Tradition (‘Challenge to the Church,’ New York Review of Books, 9 May 2013), William Pfaff writes: How does a religion survive without structure and a self-perpetuating leadership? The practice of naming bishops to lead the Church in various Christian centers has existed since apostolic times. Aside fromContinue reading “William Pfaff on the Indispensability of Clerical Leadership”

The All Too Inevitable Denouement of the Trayvon Martin Story

In commenting on the murder of Trayvon Martin last year, I wrote: The killing of Trayvon Martin is a classically American nightmare: a suburb somewhere, a dark night, a young black man on the streets, guns in the hands of people who imagine it will make them safer, calls to 911 that provide grim, brief,Continue reading “The All Too Inevitable Denouement of the Trayvon Martin Story”

General Petraeus Goes to CUNY: Nobel Prize Winners, Eat Your Heart Out

The initial reaction to the hiring of General David Petraeus to teach at CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College was one of astonishment at the salary–$150k for one semester–offered; this has since devolved into looking askance at the source of the funds and an inquiry into whether such expenditure was the best possible for a public universityContinue reading “General Petraeus Goes to CUNY: Nobel Prize Winners, Eat Your Heart Out”

Mark Twain on General Baby

In 1879, at a banquet in Chicago, given by the Army of the Tennessee to their commander General Ulysses S. Grant, Mark Twain rose to propose a toast to a oft-ignored ‘minor’ entity: You soldiers all know that when that little fellow arrived at family headquarters you had to hand in your resignation. He tookContinue reading “Mark Twain on General Baby”

CUNY Board of Trustees and General Petraeus: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

The ‘General David Petraeus is teaching at CUNY for a ludicrous amount’ scandal has been brewing for a while now. To catch up on its all its salacious, rage-provoking details, you could do worse than check out Corey Robin‘s coverage. In brief: cash-strapped urban public university invites retired US military figure to teach one course forContinue reading “CUNY Board of Trustees and General Petraeus: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”