June 18, 2019

Books

"If Plato was a philosopher who wanted to use his ideas to change the world in practical ways, but had to settle for a towering intellectual legacy instead, then Marx’s writing had the opposite effect."

"We called “Sister Carrie” a book “one can get along very well without reading,” dismissed “Lolita” as “dull, dull, dull,” and had nothing nice to say about “Howards End.”"

"So the lives of humans and of other animals are very different. But does that mean that human lives are more important or more valuable than the lives of animals?"

"He began to study it, he turned to philosophers like Saadia Gaon and Maimonides. But it was in kabbalistic thought that he found a symmetry between Judaism and science."

"Often described as “Instapoets”, there are several writers sharing short fragments online to enormous followings. The biggest of these audiences belongs to 26-year-old Rupi Kaur..."

"Sensitivity readers (other, better terms include “expert readers” and “authenticity readers”) are representatives of an oft-marginalized group who try to ensure that the portrayal of the group is not dimwitted."

"One thing is certain about clichés: you wouldn’t be caught dead using them. They are widely scorned as signs of debased thought, a lack of imagination and the absence creativity."

"Until recently, Kosoko Jackson was considered an expert in the trapdoors of identity-related rhetoric. Jackson worked as a “sensitivity reader” for major publishers of YA fiction, a job that entails reading manuscripts and flagging them..."

"...this was a #MeToo novel about rape allegations written by a man, and that this man had already written a nonfiction book denouncing a woman for trying to ruin his reputation. Needless to say, these conditions boded ill."

"Under the pen name “L.E.L.,” Letitia Elizabeth Landon had been one of the most famous literary women of her brief pre-Victorian moment, her poetry a staple of the popular literary press for well over a decade."

"The story of Rome’s fall is both complicated and relatively straightforward: The state became too big and chaotic; the influence of money and private interests corrupted public institutions..."

"Americans of all classes and backgrounds turned hungrily to novels, plays, and poems, provoked by a “need to recapture the meaning of personal experience.”"

"Isaac Mizrahi’s new ‘I.M.’ is a classic Jewish memoir of rebelling against stifling expectations to flourish in American possibility... Mizrahi burst on the New York scene as a couture prodigy in the 1980s..."

"If you know John Williams, you likely know him from Stoner, his 1965 novel about the unremarkable life and death of an English professor at a little college in the Midwest."

"Haaretz talks with the provocative professor turned influential YouTube philosopher about why the world would be a better place if we’d just go back to good old Enlightenment values."

"In many ways, stories are uncannily similar to living organisms. They seem to have their own interests. They compel us to share them and, once told, they begin to grow and change, often becoming longer and more elaborate."

"Cool in the humanities isn’t that different from cool in other areas of cultural life, like planking, hotdog-legs photography, mason jar rehabilitation, and novels whose main character is a city."

"Why are there no good graphic novels about Jews and Israel? Like so many works in this genre, a new 350-page graphic treatment of Theodor Herzl is cartoonish in every sense of the word."

"Is it Presidents Day, President's Day, or Presidents' Day? This might just be the greatest question of our time. And unfortunately, nobody has the slightest clue. If they claim to know the right answer, they're lying."

"A gay French writer has lifted the lid on what he calls one of the world’s largest gay communities, the Vatican, estimating that most of its prelates are homosexually inclined..."

"“The Ideas That Made America” by Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen is an anomaly in the genre. Its brevity is a point of pride, yet it aspires to do a little of everything."

"A few years ago, when it suddenly occurred to us that the internet was a place we could never leave, I began to keep a diary of what it felt like to be there in the days of its snowy white disintegration..."

"Thirty years after making waves with her children’s book ‘Heather Has Two Mommies,’ author Lesléa Newman traces a young Jewish immigrant’s ‘Journey’"

"A series of dismaying events has transpired at Augsburg University, in Minneapolis. According to several undisputed news reports, it began in October, when a student read a sentence in class from James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time..."

"Yael Tamir’s new book, “Why Nationalism,” looks at an old idea through the prism of our newly nationalistic world... we discussed how nationalism went from an élite project to an anti-élite one, and how liberals might make use of it."

"Welcome, Bearded Man with a Slouchy Beanie Riding the Subway. You are reading me, a book. I am the reason that everyone in this train car is looking at you."

"Le Guin chose this “despised, marginal” genre, she once said, for a reason she couldn’t acknowledge to herself at the time: Because it was “excluded from critical, academic, canonical supervision, leaving the artist free.”"

"On any given day, someone somewhere is likely leading an Artist’s Way group, gamely knocking back the exercises of “The Artist’s Way” book, the quasi-spiritual manual for “creative recovery,” as its author Julia Cameron puts it..."

"It’s not the best time to publish an appreciation & defense of Henry Miller, whose Tropics trilogy, written in the 1930s, was banned for decades in the US for obscenity, and then indicted by feminist critic Kate Millet in her book Sexual Politics.,"

"Removing the term from the text—which has been done—falsifies the novel. But there’s nothing important I can add to Twain by saying the n-word aloud."

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JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"At 12:42 a.m. on the quiet, moonlit night of March 8, 2014, a Boeing 777-200ER operated by Malaysia Airlines took off from Kuala Lumpur and turned toward Beijing, climbing to its assigned cruising altitude of 35,000 feet. The designator for..."

"“I hereby sentence you to death.” The words of Judge Clifford B. Shepard filled the courtroom in Jacksonville, Fla., on Oct. 27, 1976. Shepard was sentencing Clifford Williams Jr., whom a jury had just found guilty of entering a woman’s house..."

"The video footage of Jewish Israelis dancing with Palestinians at a wedding should be something to celebrate. It should be an expression of joy and joint faith in the future. Instead, it has brought danger and disgrace to Radi Nasser, the mayor..."

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"Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., tells us that wealth inequality is at grotesque and immoral levels. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has a plan to tax everyone lots and lots to solve this. The slight problem is that the Federal Reserve tells us that..."

"For much of World War I, Sir Phillip Gibbs was one of the few journalists the British War Office permitted to correspond from the Western Front. Gibbs’s mission was to describe, in terms that would be acceptable to government censors, the..."

"In the 1940s, sexologist Alfred Kinsey, who was on the verge of publishing his first major report on male sexuality in the US, enlisted a photographer named Thomas Painter to investigate gay subcultures. Painter, a white, openly gay man, had..."

"What was Postmodernism? In the 35 years since Fredric Jameson’s New Left Review essay “Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” — and the 40 years since the publication of Jean-François Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition..."

"My husband and I are proud fathers of a 5-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy. I was grocery shopping with them last week when I saw a sign that made me cringe. Attached to a basket of free fruit, the sign reminded kids to “Ask Mom” before taking a..."

"Family farms are central to our nation’s identity. Most Americans, even those who have never been on a farm, have strong feelings about the idea of family farms — so much that they’re the one thing that all U.S. politicians agree on. Each..."

"The Big Bang is the defining narrative of modern cosmology: a bold declaration that our universe had a beginning and has a finite age, just like the humans who live within it. That finite age, in turn, is defined by the evidence that universe is..."

"After a protracted siege by the Roman tenth legion, the situation of the Sacarii, the Jewish rebels holed up on the mountain fortress of Masada, became hopeless. The Jewish rebels led by Elazar Ben Yair decided to kill themselves rather than be..."