The Coven’s Vision of Hell and ‘Repetition Compulsion’

American Horror Story‘s third season, The Coven, ended last night. The show as a whole did not quite meet my expectations–a critique echoed here and here; but still, for various reasons, I quite enjoyed the season’s finale. Among them was it’s take on hell: each of us has our own private one. Misty, the “swamp-dwelling,Continue reading “The Coven’s Vision of Hell and ‘Repetition Compulsion’”

The Nature Documentary and the Failed Hunt

Like many middle-class children, here or elsewhere, I watched wildlife documentaries while ‘growing up.’ There was a long-running Sunday feature whose name I forget that subjected one species to its lens each week; there were the full-length movies–sometimes on the big cats (my personal favorite), sometimes on elephants, sometimes on the primates–my parents took meContinue reading “The Nature Documentary and the Failed Hunt”

Superbowl Notes: The Great Dictator, Sorry, Sports Coach

In 1984, like a good sports fan, I paid diligent attention–as I had previously in 1976 and 1980–to the Olympics, held that year in Los Angeles. Very few events were telecast live; we had to be content with lengthy packages of highlight clips. Included in them was as the triumphant march to an eventual goldContinue reading “Superbowl Notes: The Great Dictator, Sorry, Sports Coach”

Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero and the ‘Hidden Presence of Others’

Michael Ondaatje‘s Divisadero is a wise book, elliptical and allusive in his distinctive style, one replaying close, attentive reading to its many lovely, lyrical lines, too many to excerpt and note. Here is one that hones in on a truth already known to those who create: Everything is biographical…What we make, why it is made,Continue reading “Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero and the ‘Hidden Presence of Others’”

My Imagined Interlocutors

Sometimes I find myself conducting arguments with  myself; ‘in my head’, as it were. I walk along the streets, running their premises and conclusions through my mind; I refine their rhetorical pitch, I rehearse them; sometimes, I find myself overcome by the emotion associated with their content; indeed, one of the reasons I write hereContinue reading “My Imagined Interlocutors”

Satadru Sen on Eagles Over Bangladesh

Satadru Sen has written a very thoughtful and engaged review of Eagles over Bangladesh: The Indian Air Force in the 1971 Liberation War. His generally positive review also strikes some critical notes in it, and I’d like to respond to those. These critical points are all largely concerned with how well the book succeeds asContinue reading “Satadru Sen on Eagles Over Bangladesh”

Combating Envy with the Quotidian

Last week, I suffered a crippling, sickening, attack of envy. For one day, soon after I had awoken and fixed myself my morning cuppa, a missive arrived, confirming for me not just someone else’s spectacular success, but also the darkest assessments I often entertain about my professional and intellectual worth. I tried to put these thoughtsContinue reading “Combating Envy with the Quotidian”

The Stygian Staircase

When I first encountered the word ‘pitch-black’, a long time ago, in a children’s adventure book, I was puzzled; I asked my mother what it meant and she said, (roughly), “That means it was really, really dark, so dark you couldn’t see anything, no matter how long you waited.” Even at that tender age, IContinue reading “The Stygian Staircase”

The Missed Rejoinder: Memorable For All The Wrong Reasons

A few years ago, I served as a referee for the National Science Foundation, reading and evaluating grant proposals, and hopefully, being fair to the hopeful applicants. Once I had submitted my preliminary report, I traveled to Washington DC for a final meeting with other referees for that round of funding; we met over twoContinue reading “The Missed Rejoinder: Memorable For All The Wrong Reasons”

The American Tragedy of Willie Bosket

The story of Willie Bosket, now serving a life sentence, due only to be released from solitary confinement in 2062,  and once described as New York state’s most dangerous prison inmate, is the kind of tale all too easily described as an American tragedy. Fox Butterfield‘s All God’s Children: The Bosket Family and the American Tradition ofContinue reading “The American Tragedy of Willie Bosket”