“Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”
No Such Thing? Margaret Thatcher and the End of Society
Insofar as economic inequality is the left’s principal field of battle in contemporary political life, the fact is that it has no real response to neoliberalism. Idealists without an ideal, moralists without morals, to be on the left today is frequently to be both helpless and hypocritical. Faced with such a predicament, hating Thatcher is the easy part.
Perilous Aesthetics: Photojournalism after Instagram
Images like Forman’s “Fire Escape Collapse” and Drew’s “The Falling Man” achieve what we might call an “accidental aesthetic brilliance,” since there was no way those photographers could have purposely stylized these photographs to achieve their most striking aesthetic attributes. … But at what point does the aesthetic excellence of the photograph eclipse the depicted event, or, worse, distract the viewer from inquiring into what happened?
The Lonely Intellectual: David Shields’s Real Problem
What kind of a person, I wonder, responds to Kundera’s revealing statement by immediately wondering how oppressed he is, or compares “wall-to-wall media” to the Cambodian genocide?
Looking Back: Christopher Lasch and the Role of the Social Critic
[Michael J. Kramer]
Populism, Lasch acknowledged, was becoming “increasingly defensive” and had always expressed “some of the worst impulses in the American character: anti-intellectualism, xenophobia, racism.” The movement had, nevertheless, also offered the “only serious attempt to answer the great question of twentieth-century politics: What was to replace proprietorship as the material foundation of civic virtue?”
Prey: Writing about the Dead
I remembered what Laura had said about her professor’s emphasis on respecting the bodies: “I feel like it’s impossible to respect them. We’re cutting them up, looking at them in places they didn’t want to be seen when they were alive. How can they be respected when they’re so vulnerable?” But Laura was dissecting Nancy for the sake of medicine. What was my excuse?
SYMPOSIUM: WHAT IS MARRIAGE FOR?
A Matter of Life and Death
The problem with marriage, we all know, is the endlessness of it. Once you’re married, you’ve significantly cut down the options, and it suddenly makes your life feel shorter—like now there’s a direct line between you and your own death.
On Not Knowing What You’re Doing
It is practically a cliché that, if you have never been in love, then you cannot possibly know what it is like. At the same time, however, we do expect people to recognize the experience of love when it comes along. “When it happens,” we say confidently, “you’ll know.”
Joiners and Quitters
There are two “right answers” to the question of marriage on the American left today. Let’s call the people who give these answers the Joiners and the Quitters.
Like gay marriage, the concept of polyamorous marriage invites participants to ask: What is the point of marriage, anyway? What will be the point of our marriage?
Naturally I wanted to believe that moral condemnation of homosexual acts is deeply misguided, whatever its motives. However, strange as it may sound, I was not confident of this.
Not For Anything
We should show this so-called essence of marriage no respect at all until someone shows us what its tangible value is. In the meantime, we should define our social conception of marriage in response to the considerations that matter to us.
Meeting my husband, Warren, was the best thing that ever happened to my father.
The Love We Use
When I got married I vowed to my wife, on a pulpit in front of all my friends and family, that I would continue to cherish and love her for the rest of her life. It was a kind of promise. But the love we want is spontaneous, underlying, underived and free. This is how it can affirm who we are. How can I commit to continue to love my wife?
The World of Coca-Cola
We are then led into the “Happiness Factory,” a small movie theater where we sit through a seven-minute animated CC ad called “Happyfication.” It is hosted by Pete, a blue critter who appears to be a cross between a smurf and a gremlin, gifted with a groovy smoove Marvin Gaye voice.
Anyone who would criticize an outraged writer’s moralistic tone risks appearing too callous or naïve to realize the enormity of the crime at hand—whether it’s Obama’s visit to an Amazon warehouse or a university’s experimentation with MOOCs. Outrage may look like moral bravery, but it is safe as can be.
Enlightened bears witness to the fact that we continue to live in an age of enlightenment, although whether Kant would recognize it as such is an open question.
It has always struck me that 1994 ought to be one of those years we commemorate, though there’s nothing so momentous as Cobain’s death to put a point on the thing that it was.
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