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Essays by

Jon Baskin

 

Friends Like These

While Gopnik’s liberal commitment to openness may enjoin him to give the criticisms of liberalism a fair hearing, what never seems to occur to him is what Trilling felt viscerally: that the criticisms of liberalism could be true.

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On the Hatred of Literature

The hatred of literature, though it remains almost unheard of among the general reading public, has become the default mode in the upper reaches of our literary culture.

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Off the Wave

Justin E. H. Smith is a professor of history and philosophy of science at the University of Paris. In addition to his recent book, Irrationality: […]

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On Left Straussianism

Nobody shares all their private complaints with an audience, but how do we know how much to share and with whom? Certainly, in the name […]

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On the End

What ought we to be optimistic for? For the survival of the earth? For the continuation of the human species?

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Letter on Denialism

In November, Politico published a profile of Claire Lehmann, the founder of the web magazine Quillette, which it hailed as the “unofficial digest” of the intellectual dark web.

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Restoring Justice

Jobi Cates is the director of Restore Justice, a Chicago-based nonprofit devoted to promoting “fairness, humanity and compassion” in the Illinois criminal justice system.

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Tired of Winning

My first full-time job after college was with the Center for American Progress, a policy institute in Washington, D.C.

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Letter on The Point

Every issue of The Point contains a “symposium” section organized around a question that takes the form: What is x for?

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Out of Good Reasons

Elena Ferrante, a pseudonymous Italian author about whom little is known personally, has in the past two years become a household name in American literary […]

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Adult Conversation

God, listen to me! Or don’t. –A. O. Scott As you may have heard by now, A. O. Scott wrote an article earlier this month […]

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Doubters

What if Nietzsche were a police officer in present-day New Orleans? More than any of his specific ideas, this is the question True Detective explores through Rust.

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Enlightened

“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.

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The Circle

Dave Eggers’s The Circle is so carelessly written, so predictably plotted, and so thinly conceived that it threatens to make a mockery of anyone who […]

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Coming to Terms

Franzen has reflected repeatedly on his differences with his friend and rival, for instance in the aftermath to his lengthy exploration of the so-called Status vs. Contract models of literature in the 2002 essay, “Mr. Difficult,” and then again early last year, when he told The Paris Review that he considered his relationship with Wallace to have been “haunted by a competition between the writer who was pursuing art for art’s sake and the writer who was trying to be out in the world.” Then, in a highly anticipated piece for the April 18th, 2011 New Yorker, Franzen proposed a brand new distinction, the simplest yet. The real difference between the two writers, he argued, was that whereas Franzen cares about other people, Wallace had always been a narcissistic jerk.

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Conserving the Novel

In Issue 9 of n+1, the critic (and UCLA English professor) Mark McGurl describes the problem facing the contemporary novel this way: What should the […]

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Steroids, Baseball, America

Whether steroids are considered an unforgivable sin or a culturally sanctioned misdemeanor akin to speeding, those inclined to question their significance will find themselves led reliably to a higher question: What is the significance of sports, today, in America?

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The Perspective of Terrence Malick

The thought occurs to the viewer that Holly is already in her magical land, if only she could see it. But she would have to see it from our perspective—the perspective of Malick’s camera.

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Granta’s Chicago Issue

The editor has claimed the issue will be successful if it gives its readers a feel for “exactly what the city is like,” although it should also succeed as a “work of art.” The question of whether literature with the same aspirations as tourism could qualify as art is not asked by Granta’s Chicago issue, although it is answered by it.

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Death Is Not the End

David Foster Wallace, who hanged himself in his home last September, wrote about authenticity, self-consciousness and the pursuit of happiness in America. It became a […]

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