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Monthly Archives: June 2012
Literary critic Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), in the famous preface to his eight-volume edition of Shakespeare’s plays (1765), attempts to address the question of Shakespeare’s genius: why have his plays been so captivating to so many for so long? Johnson offers … Continue reading
In the New York Review of Books, John Gray’s review of Slavoj Zizek’s career and most recent book, Less Than Nothing, is damning. At bottom, Gray pegs Zizek as an armchair revolutionary lending intellectual and moral support to terrorism and … Continue reading
It’s her first sonnet in Sonnets from the Portuguese : I thought once how Theocritus had sung Of the sweet years, the dear and wished-for years, Who each one in a gracious hand appears To bear a gift for mortals, … Continue reading
Donna Haraway (b. 1944) teaches feminist and science studies in the History of Consciousness program at the University of California at Santa Cruz. In addition to taking a degree in English, she also studied biology at Yale. In 1985 she … Continue reading
In his essay, “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern” (2003), historian of science Bruno Latour (b. 1947) worries that the intellectual atmosphere in the humanities—in which many scholars, including him, have … Continue reading
I’m uncomfortable with the arguments made in the below video, but I can’t think of any holes in them. And the calm rationality on display seems to invite complacency. But I was already complacent.
Martha Nussbaum’s Question: How Can We Activate Our Imaginative, Critical, And Moral Intelligences Against Invisibility?
In her essay, “The Narrative Imagination” (1997), Martha Nussbaum (b. 1947), a classicist, philosopher, and legal scholar who contributes regularly to the New Republic and teaches at the University of Chicago, writes the following: When a child and a parent … Continue reading
“Courtly Love, Or, Woman As Thing”: How To Do Lacanian Analysis Like Slavoj Zizek (Or, At Least Understand What He’s Getting At When He Does)
In his essay, “Courtly Love, or, Woman as Thing” (1994) cultural critic Slavoj Zizek (b. 1949) presents courtly love—knight-Lady romance as ritualized in the European Middle Ages—through a Lacanian lens (Jacques Lacan, the psychoanalyst popularly dubbed the “French Freud”). Courtly … Continue reading
The universe appears to be lacking in purpose in some ways, but not in others. For example, the Holocaust and the panda’s “thumb” would seem to suggest that we live in a historically contingent universe indifferent and blind to both suffering and … Continue reading
Two novels-of-ideas by Ayn Rand (1905-1982)–The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957)–and the individualist and pro-capitalist positions that she laid out over the course of her lifetime under a philosophical system she created and designated “objectivism,” have had an outsized … Continue reading
__________ The above video is amusing, but also raises an interesting question: what is it, exactly, that’s wrong with bestiality? Notice that the perpetrator isn’t getting it on with women and fantasizing about animals; instead, he’s getting it on with … Continue reading