On Becoming More ‘Confessional’ In The Classroom

A few weeks ago, in the course of a conversation with a colleague here at Brooklyn College, I remarked that over the years I had become more ‘confessional’ in my classroom  interactions with my students. When gently pressed to explain what I meant, I said that I had become more unguarded there, in that space–inContinue reading “On Becoming More ‘Confessional’ In The Classroom”

An ISIS Communique For Our Times

From: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi To: All Jihadi Brothers In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. My warriors, after Paris, much work remains to be done. But we have many new recruits. They are infidels, but they have to come to our aid, they will do our work with us. They willContinue reading “An ISIS Communique For Our Times”

The Post-Apocalyptic World Of The War Refugee

A year or so ago, in writing about classroom discussions centering on Cormac McCarthy‘s The Road, I had noted that the homeless–whom the Man and the Boy most resemble–live in a post-apocalyptic world of their own: The central characters in The Road are homeless folk….the homeless among us live in such a post-apocalyptic world now:Continue reading “The Post-Apocalyptic World Of The War Refugee”

On Not Celebrating Steven Salaita’s Settlement With UIUC

I cannot bring myself to celebrate the news of Steven Salaita‘s settlement with the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC). The reasons for this are fairly straightforward–as noted in a petition now circulating: the crucial legal issues at the heart of his dismissal remain unresolved, and his job has not been reinstated. Shortly afterContinue reading “On Not Celebrating Steven Salaita’s Settlement With UIUC”

Marco Rubio And The Philosophy Of Welding

Many years ago, I taught the inaugural edition of my Philosophy of Welding seminar. I began the semester by introducing some of the problems that would hold our attention during the semester: What is welding? How is it distinguished from other activities that claim to be welding? Is there a distinctive being-in-the-world characteristic of the welderContinue reading “Marco Rubio And The Philosophy Of Welding”

The Pleasures Of Comfort Reading

We eat comfort food when we are sick, angry, depressed, or unhappy: chicken soup, chocolates, <insert your own, idiosyncratic favorite here>, substances that satisfy cravings which tap into some deep nexus of the mind and body and momentarily elevate our mood. Comfort food is comfortable because it is ‘easy’; it does not tax you unduly;Continue reading “The Pleasures Of Comfort Reading”

No One ‘Conquers’ An Eight-Thousander

Despite the dozens, if not hundreds, of mountaineering tales that talk about the ‘conquest’ of mountains, especially the fourteen eight-thousanders that are the world’s tallest mountains, no one ‘conquers’ them. Not the mountaineers who climbed them first, who ‘deflowered’ their ‘virginity,’; not the ones who climb them by new routes, each selected to be harderContinue reading “No One ‘Conquers’ An Eight-Thousander”

Vilhelm Ekelund On Dogs And Literary Critics

In Nordic and Classic (reprinted in Dagbok och Diktverk by Sven Linquist, Bonniers, Stockholm 1966; excerpted in Vilhelm Ekelund: The Second Light, North Point Press, San Francisco, 1986, page 26), Vilhelm Ekelund, the master Swedish poet and aphorist, writes: Into the dog’s sense of life enters, no doubt as an essential fact, the joy thatContinue reading “Vilhelm Ekelund On Dogs And Literary Critics”