Monthly Archives: July 2008

On July 21, 1969, the Day after Astronauts Stepped onto the Moon, What Did the Front Page of the New York Times Look Like?

  I can’t help but hear, in the headline, an echo of the ancient Roman Imperium: We came, we saw, we conquered.

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Santi Tafarella v. PZ Myers: An Agnostic Urges Liberals, Secular and Religious, to Boycott PZ Myers

University of Minnesota biologist, and now illiberal iconoclast, PZ Myers, has managed to get hold of a consecrated host and desecrate it. Here’s his post on it: OK, time for the anticlimax. I know some of you have proposed intricate … Continue reading

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“Creation Story”: A Poem by Santi Tafarella

    It seems to have started as an argument.    Nothing became something, rapidly expanding   to a whole laundry list of things.   Separation and settlement followed.   Over time things cooled. Mother got her planets; Father    … Continue reading

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Slate Reviews James Wood’s New Book, “How Fiction Works”

Slate yesterday had an interesting review of New Yorker book critic James Wood’s new book. Money quote: I hope this isn’t taken the wrong way, but by the end of How Fiction Works, I felt as though I had just read a … Continue reading

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“The Apology of Dionysus”: A Poem by Santi Tafarella

I know that you like my bee- balmy glades, and my jugs heavy with their sweet wines— but mine also are the snake’s skin and the wind-whip of biting sands. I weed your gardens with rakes of lightening and flurries of hail, frosting your fruits and … Continue reading

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The Upanishads, the Bible, and Greek Tragedy: Would We Have Had These Great Works of Literature Without Dick Cheney-like Free Market Competition?

What role does competition play in the generation of imaginitive art and literature? Here are six things that suggest that competition plays a very large part indeed: First, in ancient Indian literature, particularly in the early formation of the Rig Veda … Continue reading

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Are Our Earth Mother’s Oily Boobies Running Dry?: The LA Times on the “Peak Oil” Debate

We’ve long unveiled our Earth Mother, and easily stolen her oily milk and fruits. Maybe that’s over.           Today, in the Los Angeles Times, is a front page article on the Peak Oil debate, in which dueling experts vociferously disagree with … Continue reading

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“Weather Report”: A Poem by Santi Tafarella

  like soapsuds   floating   on the surface of dishwater   70   degrees in LA   and scattered clouds

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American Fast Food: The Back of a Televangelist’s Book Deconstructed

Daddy eye!     I think that the back of this old book advertises itself in a crassly mendacious fashion. Here’s some things that I notice: The photo and the author’s name take up the top half of the back cover’s display—suggesting that … Continue reading

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Are You a Passive Pessimist, ala Schopenhauer, or an Agressive Pessimist, ala Nietzsche?: A Review of Joshua Dienstag’s Book, “Pessimism”

Pessimism (Princeton 2006), by Joshua Foa Dienstag, is excellent on many levels, but its chief value is in the way it locates “pessimism” as an identifiable philosophical position. The author traces the pessimistic tradition through the Dionysian pre-Socratics, Rousseau, Schopenhauer, … Continue reading

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Thomas Aquinas—Poet?: In a Salon Interview, James Carse Asserts that Poetry Undergirds Religion

James Carse, a retired academic who ran the Religious Studies Program at New York University for 30 years, just came out with a new book titled, The Religious Case Against Belief. In an interview at Salon.com, he said something about Thomas Aquinas … Continue reading

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It’s a Madhouse!—But I Still Want To Live: Albert Camus, Fichte’s “Flungness,” and the Planet of the Apes

  When I think of Albert Camus’s famous quip that the first question of philosophy is whether or not to commit suicide, I also think of the late-1960s version of Planet of the Apes, starring Charlton Heston. Three astronauts find themselves in a … Continue reading

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Beating Our Swords into Ploughshares?: John Gray, Barack Obama, and the Utopian Imagination

  John Gray, Professor of European thought at the London School of Economics, has this rather sharp take on utopianism in his book, Black Mass (2007): The pursuit of a condition of harmony defines utopian thought and discloses its basic … Continue reading

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“Little Reminder”: A Poem by Santi Tafarella

  When your mother’s belly rose, I did not leave you unmoored,   but bound and docked you by umbilical cord.   And when the floodgates opened, and you washed forth like a turtle, held aloft and helpless in a … Continue reading

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“At the Creation, October 1, 1890”: A Poem by Santi Tafarella

  Be just arrived.   Be Midwestern dirt under Midwestern   fingernails   puncturing the skin of a juice-heavy orange.   Be flesh of orange mist of orange before orange in sunshine of orange.   Be the light softening   the clay-lipped … Continue reading

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Turn Me on Ad Man: A Great Book on the Dark Arts of Persuasion

The book, Age of Progaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion (Holt 2001), attempts to demystify propaganda and the persuasion process, and it does so in a scholarly, fluid, and engaging manner. The authors, Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson, walk … Continue reading

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Severe Hawkeye: Albrecht Durer Paints His 70 Year Old Father

  “Marble heavy, a bag full of God.” –Sylvia Plath, “Daddy”

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History, Myth, or Something in Between: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know about the Genre of the Gospels, But Were Afraid to Ask

When we look at the gospels, an important literary question that immediately confronts us is this: What genre (broadly speaking) are they written in? In other words, are we reading history, myth, or some combination of the two? Obviously, such … Continue reading

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“Hip”: A Poem by Santi Tafarella

  beneath the sour apple tree   you will knob my more of tone and fin   we will bop and lie in wraps and yalp   and moan   your ribs i’ll finger like a harp   and you … Continue reading

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Blame it On the God of Poetry?: Is an Emotionally Charged Metaphor the Real Reason You Say That You Believe in God—Or Say That You Don’t?

Is metaphor-charged experience behind the power of conversion? When the Apostle Paul, in Romans 1:18-20, says that God reveals himself “plainly” to us by a direct apprehension of nature and the heavens, might we shift focus and have an equally visceral … Continue reading

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