On Being A Bully

In the long list of personal moral failures for which I will have to atone, participating in schoolyard and dormitory bullying–even if only briefly, and in attenuated fashion–must rank among the very worst. The only exculpation I can offer in my defense is that I was young, but all bullies in school are; I’m afraidContinue reading “On Being A Bully”

Fascism And The Irrelevance Of ‘Truth’

Yesterday, a former student wrote to me, asking for clarification on something he had read in an online discussion group: We [Fascists] don’t think ideology is a problem that is resolved in such a way that truth is seated on a throne. But, in that case, does fighting for an ideology mean fighting for mereContinue reading “Fascism And The Irrelevance Of ‘Truth’”

Hannah Arendt On Our Creations’ Independent Lives

In ‘Remarks to the American Society of Christian Ethics’ (Library of Congress MSS Box 70, p. 011828)¹,   Hannah Arendt notes, Each time you write something and send it out into the world and it becomes public, obviously everybody is free to do with it what he pleases, and this is as it should be.Continue reading “Hannah Arendt On Our Creations’ Independent Lives”

Acknowledging Reported Emotions Before ‘Explaining’ Them

Suppose you say, “I’m <angry, sad, disappointed, anxious, irate,….> because of X <my neighbor’s behavior, my father’s letter, my mother’s language to me last night, my husband’s antics….>.” As an example, “I’m sad because  my brother ignored my birthday this year.” Now, suppose your respondent immediately launches into an ‘explanation’ of, or ‘apologia’ for, X:Continue reading “Acknowledging Reported Emotions Before ‘Explaining’ Them”

Childhood Crushes – I: Nafisa Ali In ‘Junoon’

I was eleven years old when I saw Nafisa Ali, then all of eighteen years old, play the part of Ruth Labadoor in Shyam Benegal‘s 1978 art-house classic Junoon–Ruth is a young Englishwoman, living on an English military cantonment in colonial India with her family. As the Indian Mutiny of 1857 breaks out, Ruth’s familyContinue reading “Childhood Crushes – I: Nafisa Ali In ‘Junoon’”

Lionel Trilling As Philosopher Of Culture

In Freud and The Crisis of our Culture, Lionel Trilling writes: The idea of culture, in the modern sense of the word, is a relatively new idea. It represents a way of thinking about our life in society which developed concomitantly with certain ways of conceiving the self. Indeed, our modern idea of culture may beContinue reading “Lionel Trilling As Philosopher Of Culture”

The Trump-Republican Legacy: Institutional Capture And Degradation

There might be some disputation over whether the Donald Trump-Republican Party unholy alliance is politically effective in terms of the consolidation of executive power or actual legislative activity–seasoned political observers consider the Trump administration to have been an utter failure on both fronts–but there can be little doubt about the extent of the damage theContinue reading “The Trump-Republican Legacy: Institutional Capture And Degradation”

The Indifferent ‘Pain Of The World’

In All the Pretty Horses (Vintage International, New York, 1993, pp. 256-257), Cormac McCarthy writes: He imagined the pain of the world to be like some formless parasitic being seeking out the warmth of human souls wherein to incubate and he thought he knew what made one liable to its visitations. What he had notContinue reading “The Indifferent ‘Pain Of The World’”

On Being In A Quandary On Quandary Peak

On July 19th, my wife, my daughter (aged four and a half years), and I set off to hike Quandary Peak in Colorado–one of the state’s fifty-three fourteeners. We awoke at four a.m., left at five a.m. and after a longer-than-expected drive, were on the trail at 7:50AM. By Colorado standards this was a tad bitContinue reading “On Being In A Quandary On Quandary Peak”