A Rarely Realized Classroom Ideal

Last night, in my graduate seminar–which carries the snappy title ‘From Schopenhauer to Freud (Via Nietzsche): Depth Psychology and Philosophy‘–my students and I spent the entire two hours of our class meeting time reading and discussing Section 354 of Nietzsche‘s The Gay Science. We each had a copy of the section in front of us; IContinue reading “A Rarely Realized Classroom Ideal”

The Books We Own And Will Never Read

Let’s get real, be honest, face the facts: There are some books on my shelves I will never read. The reasons for this are manifold: the contents of the shelves are not static, as I keep adding to them; my shelves are disorganized, which means that many books escape detection as I inspect the shelvesContinue reading “The Books We Own And Will Never Read”

Brooklyn College’s Disrepair And The Attack On Public Education

Over the past two weeks, I’ve sent the following emails to my departmental faculty list, complaining about the state of classrooms at Brooklyn College. First on Thursday, September 7, I wrote: Once again, this semester, I’m teaching in 4145 and 4219 Boylan. These classrooms are a disgrace. The air conditioner is so loud we cannotContinue reading “Brooklyn College’s Disrepair And The Attack On Public Education”

Rooms Full Of Books: Soulful Abodes

In Books: A Memoir Larry McMurtry writes: [I]t puzzles me how bookless our ranch house was. There must have been a Bible, but I don’t remember ever seeing it. My father did read the range cattle books of J. Frank Dobie, but the only one I remember seeing in our house, which, by this time, wasContinue reading “Rooms Full Of Books: Soulful Abodes”

CUNY And The Public University That Couldn’t

In the fall of 2015 I taught my philosophy of law class in a hostile environment: my classroom.  With windows and doors open, it was too noisy to be heard; with windows and doors closed and the air conditioner turned on, it was too noisy. With the air conditioner turned off, it was too hot.Continue reading “CUNY And The Public University That Couldn’t”

The Virtuous, Ubiquitous Skipping Of Lines And Pages

In Immortality (HarperCollins, New York, 1990), Milan Kundera writes, If a reader skips a single sentence of my novel he won’t be able to understand it, and yet where in the world will you find a reader who never skips a line? Am I not myself the greatest skipper of lines and pages? As a childContinue reading “The Virtuous, Ubiquitous Skipping Of Lines And Pages”

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’”

Adam Phillips On “The Leavisite Position” On Reading

In the course of his Paris Review interview on the Art of Non-Fiction (No. 7, conducted  by Paul Holdengräber) Adam Phillips says: If you happen to like reading, it can have a very powerful effect on you, an evocative effect….It’s not as though when I read I’m gathering information, or indeed can remember much of what I read. IContinue reading “Adam Phillips On “The Leavisite Position” On Reading”

Serendipity In The Library Stacks

I like libraries. Always have. My most favored writing space these days is a library, that of the CUNY Graduate Center in midtown Manhattan. I arrive by subway at the 34th Street station, exit at 35th Street, enter the B. Altman Building through the lobby, buy myself a coffee, and then head upstairs to theContinue reading “Serendipity In The Library Stacks”

On Stumbling While Reading

Sometimes your reading runs aground. You read and read, moving on smoothly, even if not effortlessly, taking in the written word, perhaps admiring the art and craft on display, perhaps envying a competence and creativity beyond your own, and then, abruptly,  jarringly, there is no more purchase, no swell to lift the boat. You stareContinue reading “On Stumbling While Reading”