Journalism Should Embody Anarchist Ideals

Bill Keller‘s lengthy online exchange with Glenn Greenwald makes for very interesting reading. It illuminates a great deal, especially the modern ‘mainstream’ understanding of journalism–as ‘objective’ reporter of ‘facts’–and its supposed ‘responsibilities’ and the ‘alternative’ view of journalism as fundamentally adversarial, beholden to no nation or state, dedicated to exposing the machinations of the powerful.Continue reading “Journalism Should Embody Anarchist Ideals”

Tim Kreider and the Problem of Too Many Writers

Tim Kreider has a very familiar sounding complaint in the New York Times. It is familiar because his article follows a well-worn template of talking about the Brave New Bad World of Free Content, and because the Times routinely publishes such Op-Eds. Like most screeds put out by what I have termed ‘the whining artist‘Continue reading “Tim Kreider and the Problem of Too Many Writers”

Nicholas Carr on Automation’s Perils

Nicholas Carr offers us some interesting and thoughtful worries about automation in The Atlantic (‘All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of Machines,’ 23 October 2013). These worries center largely around de-skilling: as automation grows ever more sophisticated–and evidence suggests it is pushing into domains once thought to be inaccessible–humansContinue reading “Nicholas Carr on Automation’s Perils”

‘The Road’ and the Centrality of Love for Existence

How can a difficult read be an easy one? It can be easy because the difficulty is compelling and seductive, because ‘difficult’ does not mean ‘obscure’, because difficult can be worthy of admiration. A few days ago, when I saw John Hillcoat‘s The Road, based on Cormac McCarthy‘s novel of the same name, I had not yetContinue reading “‘The Road’ and the Centrality of Love for Existence”

The Post-Apocalyptic Zone of Moral Instruction

During a Facebook discussion in response to my post yesterday on The Road, my friend Maureen Eckert wrote: I am never sure what to make of “post-apocalyptic porn.” On the one hand they seem to be thought experiments about the “State of Nature.” On the other, they seem to tend to express exaggerated exasperation withContinue reading “The Post-Apocalyptic Zone of Moral Instruction”

John Hillcoat’s ‘The Road’: Bleak and Unsparing

John Hillcoat’s The Road is a faithful cinematic adaptation of Cormac McCarthy‘s bleak vision of a post-apocalyptic world. It is almost unrelentingly grim because it is unsparing about the bitter truths of a world in which food and morality are both in short supply: existence is a mere step up from the eventual slow deathContinue reading “John Hillcoat’s ‘The Road’: Bleak and Unsparing”

‘Empire,’ ‘Self-Government,’ and ‘Religious Conflict’

In The Colors of Violence, an attempt to contribute ‘a depth-psychological dimension to the understanding of religious conflict, especially the tensions between Hindus and Muslims [in India]’, Sudhir Kakar writes¹: If Hindu-Muslim relations were in better shape in the past, with much less overt violence, it was perhaps also because of the kind of polityContinue reading “‘Empire,’ ‘Self-Government,’ and ‘Religious Conflict’”

On ‘Bureaucratic Torture’ – Contd.

Yesterday I wrote about ‘bureaucratic torture.’ I anticipated it and remembered it with little joy. Today, I experienced it. I showed up on time at the consulate’s office (or rather, the office of the company to whom consular services have been outsourced.) I stood in line, dealt with the usual gruff security guards, was usheredContinue reading “On ‘Bureaucratic Torture’ – Contd.”

On ‘Bureaucratic Torture’

For the past few days I’ve been racked with a terrible anxiety: I have a visa application appointment tomorrow. At the Indian consulate, to apply for a ten-year tourist visa, so that I may journey back to the land of my birth and former citizenship. I’ve had photographs taken, filled out forms, checked and re-checkedContinue reading “On ‘Bureaucratic Torture’”

William Dalrymple’s Uneven Vision of Modern India

William Dalrymple is a talented writer who can very often turn out gorgeous descriptions of lands, peoples and the built environment. As might be expected, when I encounter writings about places and times with which I consider myself to be intimately familiar, I experience an acute ambivalence. Such is the case with Dalrymple’s work.  Continue reading “William Dalrymple’s Uneven Vision of Modern India”