The recent interview with Bob Dylan in Rolling Stone is, without a doubt, the most fascinating thing I’ve read all year. It’s contentious, sure, but a lot of Dylan interviews are contentious–you know, where you get the sense he’s almost enjoying confounding the interviewer. Or at least not willing to put up with an ounce of nonsense or non-wisdom, especially when it comes to his work and person. For example, reading how Dylan responds when the interviewer, Mikal Gilmore, tries to lure him onto the partisan bandwagon-of-the-month is worth the price of admission alone. In fact, we watch as Dylan’s…
Another Week Ends: Dead Liberal Arts, Glorious Ruin, Cagematch: Hoffman-Phoenix, Victorians in Baltimore, Creative Anxiety, and Imputed Guilt (by Association)
1. Over at The Daily Standard, writer and lecturer Joseph Epstein asks, “Who Killed the Liberal Arts?” With pre-professional education and a degree of liberal-arts relativizing on the rise, Epstein finds a central problem with American higher education to be the same kind of achievement cult that recent films like Waiting for “Superman” have criticized. Epstein’s phrasing is particularly succinct:
Trained almost from the cradle to smash the SATs and any other examination that stands in their way, the privileged among them may take examinations better, but it is doubtful if their learning and intellectual understanding are any greater. Usually propelled by…
Another Week Ends: F. Scott FitzDylan, Dormroom Surrender, Self-Fulfilling Paranoia, Caveman Vulnerability, Campaign Boredom, More Olympics and Air Conditioning
1) The New Yorker recently released a very good (and very short) story from none other than F. Scott Fitzgerald, called “Thank You for the Light.” A “pretty, somewhat faded woman of forty,” a midwestern corset saleswoman, she cannot find a place to smoke a cigarette away from judgmental eyes. She is becoming desperate and in her desperation she finds, yes, a church. A small sampling here, but be sure to take the extra five minutes and read the whole thing here.
And to herself she was thinking, If I could just get three puffs I could sell old-fashioned whalebone.
Flow, river, flow
Let your waters wash down
Take me from this road
To some other town
It is a disservice to lump Easy Rider into the slews of “counterculture” or “indie” filmscapes of the late 1960s and early 70s. It’s not that these descriptors aren’t accurate–both are quite true–or that it wasn’t a hippie-handed film, standing against those “scissor-happy, beautify America” typesetters that George Hanson (Jack Nicholson) could still so aptly classify. What makes it different, though, and thus limited by such descriptors, is that it so inclusively sups with the whole (“All walks of life!”) far too…
Davy Jones’ premature death last month was only the most recent (and visceral) in a long line of Monkee tragedies. Journalists have done their best to respect the late entertainer, shoring up The Monkees’ legacy by mentioning their influence on such contemporary attempts to manufacture prefab chart-toppers as American Idol and The Voice. And they’re not wrong. The Monkees do represent one of the more crass meetings of commerce and art in the TV-era. But the larger tragedy is that most people think that’s all they were.
The singles speak for themselves: “Last Train to Clarksville” “Valleri” “Listen to the Band”…
PZ’s Podcast, 80-83: I’ll Catch The Sun, Violette Amoureuse, Speaking in Tongues, and I’m Younger Than That Now
EPISODE 80: I’ll Catch The Sun
This is about sentimentality. I’m not so bearish about sentimentality as I once was. In fact, I’m pretty bullish on it these days.
Yes, I know: “Sentimentality (is supposed to be) long-term cruelty.” And some well-known dictators have been a lot nicer to their pets than to their subjects. In other words, it’s possible to be a sentimentalist and awful at the same time.
But sentimentality has the benefit of being in touch with feeling. And feeling is good. Feeling is deep, instinctive almost, and often allied with love. Don’t we generally wish we had more “heart”…
A fitting follow-up to our recent post about how memory relates to self-justification from NPR, “For the Dying, A Chance to Rewrite Life.” The segment looks at a new therapeutic technique being used with the dying, something called “dignity therapy,” which involves those in the last stages of life putting together formal written narratives of their lives. As you might imagine, the results have a sacramental aspect, combining confession, apology, self-justification, delusion and willful if heartfelt revision. What’s perhaps most interesting is the conclusion of the piece; dignity therapy may superficially appeal to our denial of death – i.e. the…
Another Week Ends: Online Echo Chambers, Deathbed Regrets, Dylan at the Cross, MJ’s Bad, Singing Spiderman, Penmanship Psychology & Seinfeld
1. A couple of articles that follow-up on the filter bubble phenomenon we posted on last week, both from The NY Times. The first is an editorial by Eli Pariser, “When The Internet Thinks It Knows You” and the second a slightly broader look at the issue, “The Trouble With The Echo Chamber Online.” While the issue is clearly an important one, the solutions being proposed – i.e. programmed diversity – strikes me as a tad shallow. That is, there’s clearly a resistance to the idea that we might actually be culpable in our selective listening/browsing in a way that…
It seems that Dylan might have written Russ’s entry! As the list gets longer (“Ho ho ho”, beard that’s white, cherry nose, reindeer sleigh, and so on, and so on), the pace gets quicker, and the party gets rowdier. Watch as the classic mood goes from jovial festivity–arm-swinging good times–to a violent barrage of shattering nog glasses and chandelier swinging. I love the shrug at the end. What are you gonna do? What can be done?
It seems that Christmas brings out the best in us.
Today two new talks have been published on “PZ’s Podcast” (Subscribe free on iTunes.)
The first is entitled The Browning Version and concerns a 1951 movie starring Michael Redgrave and written by Terence Rattigan, which is based on Rattigan’s 1948 play.
It is about a man who must lose his life in order to gain it. The material connects directly with the 25th Chorus of “Mexico City Blues”:
Is my own, is your own,
Is not Owned by Self-Owner
but found by Self-Loser —
Old Ancient Teaching
This podcast is dedicated to David Browder.
The second cast for this week is called “‘Man Gave Names…