Arendt and Sontag on Conservatism, Romanticism, and ‘Interesting’ Politics

Last week at Brooklyn College, the Wolfe Institute‘s Spring 2012 Faculty Study Group met to discuss Corey Robin‘s The Reactionary Mind, which aims to identify substantive theses central to that political tradition by way of an intellectual history of conservatism; more precisely, by close readings of some central works of the conservative canon. (The Faculty Study GroupContinue reading “Arendt and Sontag on Conservatism, Romanticism, and ‘Interesting’ Politics”

The FBI, Elaborate Entrapment and Hannah Arendt on Secret Police

David Shipler writes in today’s New York Times about an interesting aspect of a series of ‘lethal terrorist plots’ that have been successfully interdicted by the nation’s law enforcement agencies: [These] dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicideContinue reading “The FBI, Elaborate Entrapment and Hannah Arendt on Secret Police”

We Robot 2012 – UAVs and a Pilot-Free World

Day Two at the We Robot 2012 conference at the University of Miami Law School. Amir Rahmani‘s presentation Micro Aerial Vehicles: Opportunity or Liability? prompted a set of thoughts sparked by the idea of planes not flown by human beings, and in turn, the idea of an aviator-free world.  It has been some 109 years sinceContinue reading “We Robot 2012 – UAVs and a Pilot-Free World”

‘A Ramble of Banalities’: Hitler’s Table-Talk

In his review of Heike B. Görtemaker’s biography of Eva Braun (Eva Braun: Life with Hitler, Knopf, translated by Damion Searls, reviewed in The New York Review of Books, April 26 2012, Vol LIX, Number 7), Anthony Beevor notes: Hitler’s “table-talk,” a ramble of banalities and crassly sweeping judgments on history and art, recorded asContinue reading “‘A Ramble of Banalities’: Hitler’s Table-Talk”

Tourism and the Invented Tradition

Ian Johnson interviews Tian Qing (New York Review of Books Blog, April 6th, 2012), the head of China’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Center, “an institution set up by the government to protect China’s native traditions in the performing arts, cuisine, rituals, festivals, and other forms of culture” in an attempt to figure out whether these culturalContinue reading “Tourism and the Invented Tradition”

Oakeshott, the ‘Practical Past’, Ancestors, and Psychoanalysis

For Michael Oakeshott ( ‘Present, Future, and Past’, from ‘Three Essays on History’ in On History, Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, 1999), the ‘practical past’ is: [A]n accumulation of symbolic persons, actions, utterances, situations and artefacts, the products of practical imagination, and their only significant relationship to past is not to the past to which they ambiguouslyContinue reading “Oakeshott, the ‘Practical Past’, Ancestors, and Psychoanalysis”