Best Of The Web
“There is a spider crawling along the floor mat, William Hazlitt tells us (in an immortal essay from 1826 called “On the Pleasure of Hating”), and he hates it. Hatred does not lead him to violence. He is an evolved and superior creature, in that regard, or so he says. Lesser persons—“a child, a woman, a clown, or a moralist a century ago” (Hazlitt does want to be noticed)—would crush the bug. But his own impulse is to lift the mat and generously allow the insect to scurry away. He is proud of himself. And yet, he does hate the creepy little thing. He acknowledges a satisfaction or pleasure in hating it, too. The acknowledgment leads him to observe that he does not mind indulging a few other hatreds, as well. Finally he recognizes that hatred is an abiding hunger, stronger and more reliable than love, and its gaping maw demands to be fed, and it will be fed.
This was an immortal observation because Hazlitt did not blame the spider. Nor did he attribute the hatred he felt to the devil, or to social conditions, or to theological error, or to some horrible disfigurement of soul. He attributed it merely to his own normal and natural human quality, which was an observation that, so far as I know, nobody had ever offered so clearly and purely in the past (though I might be wrong about that). In later years, the study of hatred may have undergone a few advances, culminating, as I see it, in 1946 in a brilliant essay by Sartre called Reflections on the Jewish Question, or Anti-Semite and Jew. Sartre’s big discovery bore on the sources of racist hatred. In his interpretation, hatred does not begin with the object of hatred. It begins with the hater, who, for reasons of his own, finds a satisfaction in hating. Anti-Semitism is not about the Jew; it is about the anti-Semite. But the road that led to Sartre’s insight began with Hazlitt and his spider.
Does anything in these ruminations shed a light on Donald Trump and his wall? Trump himself invokes common sense on behalf of his wall, or, at least, he pretends to do so. But there is a reason why, judging from the polls, a significant number of people seem to have concluded that policies more sophisticated than a wall might do a better job of coping with whatever problems are worrying the president. Drug smuggling, for instance, might best be dealt with at places where drugs actually enter the country, which is the official entry ports. And why crack down at all on people who overstay their visas?”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"After five years of war with the Islamic State, the biggest problem for the winners is coping with the losers. The aftermath has produced one of the world’s most perplexing postwar challenges..."
"What do we mean when we say that the “soul of the city” is under threat? Often, it’s really about politics, nostalgia, and the fear of community change."
"...the pendulum of history never stops moving. Indeed, one of the few constants of history is unceasing change. While we seem to be heading in one direction, we must remember that there will surely be pauses, turns, and reversals."
""Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé," premiered early Wednesday and it was the fulfillment of all the ancestors' hopes and dreams. Beyoncé also dropped "Homecoming: The Live Album.""
"Seven in 10 adults ages 18 to 34 received financial support from their parents in the last year, including more than half of those in their early 30s. Almost three in five millennials said they couldn’t afford their lifestyles without the support."
"Social media influencers have helped turn public lands into tourist-infested swamps. And one cantankerous man is fighting back."
"One particular myth that attached itself to Ledger was that his death was somehow a result of immersing himself in the character of the Joker."
"In 2018, for the second year in a row, American publishers released fewer translated titles: 609 books were published, down from 650 in 2017 and the industry high in 2016 of 666."
"Egg freezing had become so routine among my single peers that when I hit 35, I never thought twice. Here’s what I wish I had known."
"When it comes to Passover cuisine, most home cooks know to avoid wheat, oats, rye, and other forbidden ingredients. But what consumers might not realize is just how much cotton they eat during the holiday."
"A masked figure looms over your recumbent body, wielding power tools and sharp metal instruments, doing things to your mouth you cannot see."
"Passover is a holiday that commemorates the Jewish people escaping slavery in Egypt. It is often referred to as the “festival of freedom.” My Passover in prison was at a place called the Wallkill Correctional Facility..."