On Learning The Meaning Of ‘Delirium’

I learned the meaning of the words ‘delirium’ and ‘delirious’ when I was nine. The spring of that year, I came down with a viral fever of an unknown variety. My body temperature rose sharply, and my mother responded with the usual battery of treatments: antipyretics and cold cotton wraps for my forehead. But theContinue reading “On Learning The Meaning Of ‘Delirium’”

Parental Rage And Giving Babies The Bird

Rebecca Schuman–who often pisses off many on the Internet thanks to her writing on modern academia–recently made herself the target of a great deal of vitriol thanks to a post on Slate that featured her giving her sleeping baby the bird. The usual avalanche of abuse, characteristic of Internet furores, spilled forth: threats to reportContinue reading “Parental Rage And Giving Babies The Bird”

Lorrie Moore’s ‘A Gate At The Stairs’ And An Implausible Grieving

There is much to like in Lorrie Moore‘s A Gate At The Stairs: there is Moore’s trademark dry humor, her dazzling vocabulary and eye for natural and urban detail, her exploration of weighty issues–race, adoption, gender, families, parenting–with a writerly touch that is deft and light in equal measure. But there is a crucial implausibilityContinue reading “Lorrie Moore’s ‘A Gate At The Stairs’ And An Implausible Grieving”

On Being Of Only Average Intelligence

Around the time that my teen years were to commence, I took an IQ test. My brother had stumbled upon one of HJ Eysenck‘s famous IQ books–it would have been either Know Your Own I.Q. (1962) or Check Your Own I.Q. (1966)–and after testing himself, insisted that I do so too. Intrigued by this mysteriousContinue reading “On Being Of Only Average Intelligence”

The Pleasures Of Anger

Anger is toxic, corrosive, and damaging; it is the poison we imbibe to hurt others. But like other substances described as ‘poisons’ anger is also intoxicating. As those who have ever felt ‘the red mist’ draw down over their eyes will readily testify, an outburst of anger is wholly controlling; a terrifying loss of self-control.Continue reading “The Pleasures Of Anger”

Kundera On Nostalgia For The Present

In Identity (HarperCollins, New York, 1998, pp. 40), Milan Kundera has Chantal thinking nostalgically about her love, Jean-Marc, but: Nostalgia? How could she feel nostalgia when he was right in front of her? How can you suffer from the absence of a person who is present? (Jean-Marc knew how to answer that: you can suffer nostalgiaContinue reading “Kundera On Nostalgia For The Present”

Scott Walker: Destroying Tenure, Keeping You ‘Free’

Scott Walker is well on his way to destroying one of the finest systems of public education in this country.  Those who cheered his attack on public sector unions will cheer this move on too: it has everything they want. A repeal of tenure, destruction of faculty governance, budget slashing, more power to university administrators.Continue reading “Scott Walker: Destroying Tenure, Keeping You ‘Free’”

The ‘Lone Killer’ And The Mentally Ill World

The invocation of mental illness and lamentations over ‘the state of the American mental health system’ are an inevitable accompaniment to news stories about lone white gunmen who carry out massacres. (c.f. Charleston massacre.)  With that in mind, the following wise remarks by Helen De Cruz are worth pondering: People are not just motivated byContinue reading “The ‘Lone Killer’ And The Mentally Ill World”

A Sympathy Inducing Reminder Of Basic Human Wants

A few years ago, a young union organizer stopped by my office to talk with me about an upcoming campaign of activism directed at CUNY administration. As we spoke, I felt increasingly impatient. I didn’t need to be ‘organized’; my participation in the activities planned by the union was a foregone conclusion; this young manContinue reading “A Sympathy Inducing Reminder Of Basic Human Wants”

Kundera On Virtuous and ‘Timid’ Centers

In Immortality, (HarperCollins, New York, 1992, pp. 75) Milan Kundera writes: Goethe: the great center. Not the center in the sense of a timid point that carefully avoids extremes, no, a firm center that holds both extremes in a remarkable balance… There is something Nietzschean about the kind of center that Kundera has in mind.Continue reading “Kundera On Virtuous and ‘Timid’ Centers”