Monday, December 20, 2010

Where Young People Go to Retire

Not sure if this is exactly the city I live in -- I couldn't help but notice that every person in the video was white, for starters -- but this is a pretty accurate (and hilarious) portrayal of certain pockets of the city, for sure:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Every Book A Solitude

From Paul Auster's The Invention of Solitude:

"Every book is an image of solitude. It is a tangible object that one can pick up, put down, open, and close, and its words represent many months, if not years, of one man's solitude, so that with each word one reads in a book one might say to himself that he is confronting a particle of that solitude. A man sits alone in a room and writes. Whether the book speaks of loneliness and companionship, it is necessarily a product of solitude. A. sits down in his own room to translate another man's book, and it is though he were entering that man's solitude and making it his own. But surely that is impossible. For once a solitude has been breached, once a solitude has been taken on by another, it is no longer solitude, but a kind of companionship."

Auster's book itself is very much an image of solitude, and a powerful examination of grief and life, writing and art and fatherhood. It is at bottom a search for meaning--even if in his "braver moments [he] embraces meaninglessness as the first principle"--and for truth, and for story.


My review of Misadventure, by Millard Kaufman, is in the new issue of Rain Taxi Review of Books. You can't get it online, but the table of contents is here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stop 'Messaging' and Start Meeting

An article
in The Nation about how to make unions relevant again--a vital component to the Left itself becoming relevant again.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

He Liberates Us

"Orwell, by reason of the quality that permits us to say of him that he was a virtuous man, is a figure in our lives. He was not a genius, and this is one of the remarkable things about him. His not being a genius is an element of the quality that makes him what I am calling a figure.

[I]f we ask what it is that he stands for, what he is the figure of, the answer is: the virtue of not being a genius, of fronting the world with nothing more than one's simple, direct, undeceived intelligence, and a respect for the powers one does have, and the work one undertakes to do. We admire geniuses, we love them, but they discourage us. They are great concentrations of intellect and emotion, we feel that they have soaked up all the available power, monopolizing it and leaving none for us. We feel that if we cannot be as they, we can be nothing...

[Orwell] is not a genius--what a relief! What an encouragement. For he communicates to us the sense that what he has done, any one of us can do. Or could do if we but made up our minds to do it, if we but surrendered a little of the cant that comforts us, if for a few weeks we paid no attention to the little group with which we habitually exchange opinions, if we took our chance of being wrong or inadequate, if we looked at things simply and directly, having only in mind our intention of finding out what they really are, not the prestige of our great intellectual act of looking at them.

He liberates us."

From the introduction to Orwell's
Homage to Catalonia by Lionel Trilling.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Jolly Rogers is the Appropriate Course of Action

In honor of Chanukah, a clip from one of my favorite movies from the past few years: