The US Information Service and the Power of Air Conditioning

Shortly before my teen years commenced, my parents arranged a library membership for me at the American Library in New Delhi. (The library was administered by the United States Information Service; its membership rules only allowed adults as members, but my parents spoke to the librarians, signed up for two library cards, and handed themContinue reading “The US Information Service and the Power of Air Conditioning”

The ‘Historic’ Statue Toppling That Wasn’t

In his essay ‘The Toppling: How the media inflated a minor moment in a long war‘ (The New Yorker, January 20, 2011), Peter Maass provides, by way of context and background, a useful deflationary account of the famous toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad’s Firdos Square on April 9, 2003. The statue’sContinue reading “The ‘Historic’ Statue Toppling That Wasn’t”

Gun Control, Propaganda, and the Susceptibility of Man to ‘Unreason’

In An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793), William Godwin wrote: Show me in the clearest and most unambiguous manner that a certain mode of proceeding is most reasonable in itself, or most conducive to my interest, and I shall infallibly pursue that mode, so long as the views you suggested to me, continue present toContinue reading “Gun Control, Propaganda, and the Susceptibility of Man to ‘Unreason’”

Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will: Still Scary After All These Years

I have a confession to make: I had not seen Leni Riefenstahl‘s Triumph of the Will till Friday evening. I’ve talked about it, seen clips from it, read critical essays on it, and even seen a biographical film–The Wonderful, Horrible, Life of Leni Riefenstahl–about its director, but never seen Triumph Des Willens itself. On Friday night,Continue reading “Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will: Still Scary After All These Years”