James Cozzens On The Supposed Theater Of The Law

In The Just and the Unjust (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York, 1942, p. 9) James Gould Cozzens writes: It might be argued that providing spectacles was not now, or ever, the office of a court of law. Good in theory, in practice these arguments overlooked the fact that spectators made anything they watched a spectacle,Continue reading “James Cozzens On The Supposed Theater Of The Law”

On Not Being Able To Knot (A Tie)

I cannot knot a tie; I never learned to. Thankfully, my work responsibilities do not require me to self-induce asphyxiation on a regular basis and so I can eschew the wearing of one to work. On the rare occasions that I wear a jacket–the last occasion was in September 2014, when I officiated a friend’sContinue reading “On Not Being Able To Knot (A Tie)”

Colorado Notes – IV: The Outdoor Act That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Apparently bears shit in the woods.¹ What about hikers? Forget about ‘going’ in outer space. How do you ‘go’ in the great outdoors? The answer to this question scares many off from overnight camping, sending them back to the safety of the trailhead, the car, and then, onwards to modern civilization’s greatest achievement: the indoorContinue reading “Colorado Notes – IV: The Outdoor Act That Dare Not Speak Its Name”

Bertrand Russell On Deterrence By Making ‘Freedom More Pleasant’

In ‘What I Believe,’ an essay whose content–selectively quoted–was instrumental in him having his appointment at the City College of New York revoked¹, Bertrand Russell wrote: One other respect in which our society suffers from the theological conception of ‘sin’ is the treatment of criminals. The view that criminals are ‘wicked’ and ‘deserve’ punishment isContinue reading “Bertrand Russell On Deterrence By Making ‘Freedom More Pleasant’”

Justice Hugo Black, The Ku Klux Klan, And The Trump Candidacy

In 1914, Hugo Black–a future Supreme Court Justice–was elected solicitor, or district attorney in Birmingham, Alabama. He lobbied to improve prison conditions for both black and whites, and even published a report on coerced confessions. As a trial lawyer, he had successfully represented a black man who had been imprisoned twenty-five weeks beyond his originalContinue reading “Justice Hugo Black, The Ku Klux Klan, And The Trump Candidacy”

Men Writing As Women, And Vice-Versa

A few days ago, I excerpted a passage from James Baldwin‘s If Beale Street Could Talk (Bantam, New York, 1974)  in which the central character, a young woman named Tish, describes her–and her boyfriend, Fonny’s–perceptions of Bell, the policeman who has sent Fonny to jail. Tish: But I was beginning to learn something about theContinue reading “Men Writing As Women, And Vice-Versa”

Lessons From A Vision Of A Funeral Pyre

My grandfather’s funeral was the first I attended of a significant family member. It was also the first time I witnessed a cremation, that fiery return to the ashes–and possibly eternal cycles of becoming and passing away–which signals the end of a Hindu’s life. As we prepared for it, I was aware, even through theContinue reading “Lessons From A Vision Of A Funeral Pyre”

Simone Beauvoir On Psychotherapeutic Healing As Mutilation

In Simone de Beauvoir‘s The Mandarins (WW Norton, New York, 1954; 1999, pp. 64), Anne Dubreuilh, a practicing psychoanalyst wonders: Why does healing so often mean mutilating? What value does personal adjustment have in an unjust society?….My objective isn’t to give my patients a false feeling of inner peace; if I seek to deliver them from their personalContinue reading “Simone Beauvoir On Psychotherapeutic Healing As Mutilation”

On Being Protected By My Father

Around the time my father retired from his military service, he decided to build a home on the then-still-developing outskirts of India’s capital, New Delhi. We bought a small plot of land, hired a contractor, and work began. We–my mother, my brother, and I–occasionally accompanied my father on his many trips to inspect the progressContinue reading “On Being Protected By My Father”

On Meeting An ‘Illiterate’

As my daughter approaches that miraculous stage in her cognitive and intellectual development when reading independently will start to become a possibility, opening up a portal to a world whose outlines she has, with some astonishment and delight, started  to sense, I am reminded of a childhood encounter which first made clear to me the singular importanceContinue reading “On Meeting An ‘Illiterate’”