From NYRB, the dreamlike paintings of the German artist Neo Rauch are as mystifying and enigmatic as those of any artist at work today, although his figurative scenes, carnivalesque in their rich, surprising colors and tricky shifts from the real to the fantastic, are also among the likeliest to grab the attention of twelve-year-olds. From Forward, an article on Pissarro’s Unquiet Pastoral. A review of Evocative Objects: Things We Think With, ed. Sherry Turkle. And God created the artist... or was it the other way around? Ever since the dawn of civilisation, artists have been in competition with the gods. The hand-made tale: In cultural terms, authenticity is all-important. But it has always been a tricky notion, a blurry concept even more complex in the contemporary art world. Culture, done right, can be a cash cow for cities: A review of The Warhol Economy by Elizabeth Currid.
From PopMatters, an article on Peter Lunenfeld’s MediaWork Pamphlets. The legacy of the auteurs: Filmmakers like Bergman and Antonioni have taught us to think in pictures. Truls Lie on the two recently deceased film greats (and more from LRB). Killer Films: Why the new vigilante movies are a lot like the old vigilante movies. Why "Torture Porn" Isn't: Notes on the contemporary horror movie. Portrait of the President as a Skin Mag: After his commission for an official presidential portrait was revoked, artist Jonathan Yeo decided to create a montage of Bush using shots from porn magazines. But does it work as political critique? The Spire of Dublin: A modern monument that points up what's wrong with the World Trade Center Memorial. A New Social Construct: Modernism may be dead, but the world desperately needs radically new ideas about living, working, and governing in the 21st-century city.
From Radar, Google controls your e-mail, your videos, your calendar, your searches—What if it controlled your life? A story by Cory Doctorow. The man who found himself: In a moment of crisis, Jim Killeen decided to Google himself, coming up with a wide assortment of identically monikered men around the world. So began his very own journey. Here’s looking at us: Facebook’s appeal lies in the architecture that lends itself so easily to voyeurism and exhibitionism. If anything, the latest social craze may just be sucking us into a false sense of comfort and popularity. Can a social network become Silicon Valley's next multi-billion-dollar profits machine? The buzz around Facebook is increasingly reminiscent of that surrounding Google in the days before the internet search company went public in 2004. Wikipedia doesn't distinguish "need to know" from "didja know?" — and it's lousy for browsing. That's why there's Wired Geekipedia.
From The New Yorker, a review of Edward McPherson's The Backwash Squeeze & Other Improbable Feats: A Newcomer’s Journey Into the World of Bridge. A review of Under the Boards: The Cultural Revolution in Basketball by Jeffrey Lane. Why We Love Football: Grace and idolatry run crossing patterns in the new American pastime. A review of Brand NFL: Making and Selling America's Favorite Sport by Michael Oriard. Which sporting event is the best attended? The Numbers Guys finds out. Sex Scandals, Stadium Sponsors, and National TV: Just three of the reasons to boycott big-time high-school football. [The most recent issue of Bookforum includes a review of Michael G. Long’s First Class Citizenship: The Civil Rights Letters of Jackie Robinson and a review of Mark Maske’s War Without Death: A Year of Extreme Competition in Pro Football’s NFC East.]
Black Sheep Squadron: Is Switzerland Europe's heart of darkness? Fadela Amara, France’s urban minister, is passionate about helping the banlieues. A review of Azouz Begag's Ethnicity and Equality: France in the Balance. A review of The Discovery of France by Graham Robb (and more and more). Form New Statesman, the gagging of the mandarins: How the Foreign Office systematically silences critical civil servants and does Britain really understand its true position in the new world order? Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's former ambassador to the UN, gives a controversial analysis. A review of Politics & the People: A History of British Democracy Since 1918 by Kevin Jefferys. A review of From Anger to Apathy: The British Experience Since 1975 by Mark Garnett. A look at how the Iraq War is responsible for Scottish independence. Really.
The General in Our Labyrinth: David Petraeus and grandiose failure in the Middle East. The No-Exit Strategy: He broke Iraq. Why trust Bush to fix it? More False Optimism on Iraq: How many mulligans should we let Iraq war boosters take? Sunni World: Marc Lynch on how the cheerleaders for the surge have constructed a Disney-esque fantasy of Iraq which might as well be in Orlando for all it has to do with the grim reality on the ground. And Abu Risha's assassination isn't likely to dim that fantasy. Deceptive or Delusional? Fred Kaplan on Bush's appalling Iraq speech and Dennis Ross on Bush's sad, ignorant Iraq speech. Why It’s So Hard to Win: As we’ve seen in Iraq, premodern enemies have become more effective in insurgencies against postmodern societies. Victor Davis Hanson tells why. The Missing Measure of Our Outrage: If most of us can agree the Iraq War is a colossal failure, why aren't we doing much about it?
A look at why the GOP's '08 candidates can't keep dodging Iraq much longer. From Reason, an article on The Unbearable Lightness of Fred: The Big Voice announces for president. America’s Mayor Goes to America: Rudy Giuliani has staked his campaign on the idea that he will keep America safe from terror the same way he kept New York City safe from crime — with ruthless efficiency. Is there a method to his relentlessness? The Looming Republican Delegate Disaster: Think the GOP nomination will be sewn up by the convention? Think again. The Conditional Retirement of Chuck Hagel: The dream of a Bloomberg-Hagel presidential ticket next year, as far as the Senator is concerned, is very much alive. From Slate, The Great Presidential Mashup: What the Democrats have to say about health care, Iraq, and more. The Legacy Problem: Hillary and her rivals take on the Clinton Administration. Hillary's Enforcer: Meet Patti Solis Doyle, the Clinton campaign's consigliere.
From Discover, an article on The 9/11 Cover-Up: Thousands of Manhattan residents were endangered by WTC debris—and government malfeasance; and World Plague Center: Philip Landrigan tracks the massive health fallout from breathing NY air after 9/11. From The Village Voice, Clearing the Air: Sorting solid claims about the 9/11 toxic cloud from the obscuring haze of uncertainty. The Girl in the 9/11 Bubble: How Emma Rathkey, the teenage daughter of a man who perished in the Twin Towers, finally found solace in the company of those who’d suffered the same loss. From Mother Jones, Too Little, Too Late? Six years after 9/11 and three years after the 9/11 Commission, Congress has just started to do what's necessary to protect us from the next terror attack. But have they done enough? And is time running out?
Martha Minow (Harvard): Tolerance in an Age of Terror. Fighting at a Disadvantage: Bad cultural habits plague the West in the War on Terror. Martin Amis on 9/11 and the cult of death: Our response to September 11 has been deficient. A review of The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror by Bernard Lewis. Radical Islam must be recognised as a fanatical death cult, such as Nazism or Bolshevism. Islamism Goes Mainstream: Christopher Hitchens meets Tariq Ramadan. Islam Dunk: Six years after 9/11, the shelves creak with racist panic books; and on The Myth of Separation: An American travels to the Muslim world looking for more than just a 30-second soundbite. Divided we stand: It's common to blame the end of post-9/11 unity in the US on the invasion of Iraq. But it was really down to the political misuse of 9/11 by people like Karl Rove.
The first chapter from Spying Blind: The CIA, the FBI, and the Origins of 9/11 by Amy B. Zegart. Conscience of a Conservative: When Jack Goldsmith took over as the key constitutional adviser for the Bush administration, he soon found himself at odds with the White House, and a review of The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration (and more). Learning to Love the Imperial Presidency: How conservatives made peace with executive power. What's so nefarious about Jews exercising their right to speech? More and more and more and more and more and more on The Israeli Lobby. A review of World War IV by Norman Podhoretz and The Iranian Time Bomb by Michael Ledeen. A review of The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas P.M. Barnett. Oh! What a Lovely War on Terror - - it's the number the arms dealers love: The biggest threat to our freedoms comes not from al-Qaida but from the security bureaucrats and their cronies. Fading superpower? Like all empires before it, the U.S. will slip from the top of the heap. Let's start getting ready.
A new issue of Econ Journal Watch is out. From Financial Times, a review of Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction by Thomas K. McCraw; John Kenneth Galbraith: A 20th Century Life by Richard Parker; The Chicago School: How the University of Chicago Assembled the Thinkers Who Revolutionized Economics and Business by Johan Van Overtveldt; and John Maynard Keynes 1883-1946: Economist, Philosopher, Statesman by Robert Skidelsky. An interview with Tyler Cowen, author of Discover Your Inner Economist, on the economics of parenting, reading, dentistry, art museums and education.
Defender of the Faith? In old age, Sigmund Freud, committed atheist, began to see what’s so great about God. The rise and possible fall of unbelief: A review of A Secular Age by Charles Taylor (and more). From Edge, Jonathan Haidt, author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, on moral psychology and the misunderstanding of religion. A review of Plotinus and the Presocratics by Giannis Stamatellos. A review of Metaphysics and Method in Plato's Statesman by Kenneth M. Sayre. A review of The Socratic Paradox and Its Enemies by Roslyn Weiss. A review of Confronting Aristotle's Ethics: Ancient and Modern Morality by Eugene Garver. A review of Violence in Late Antiquity. A review of The Other Bishop Berkeley: An Exercise in Re-Enchantment by Costica Bradatan. The introduction to Nietzsche's Political Skepticism by Tamsin Shaw.
No matter what your politics, UC Irvine's treatment of legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky was wrong; he says his ordeal is a lesson in academic freedom, and Chancellor Michael Drake on why he let Chemerinsky go. Donald Rumsfeld has been appointed to a one-year stint as a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Peter Berkowitz on Our Compassless Colleges. Stuart Taylor and K.C. Johnson's Until Proven Innocent reads like a legal thriller and exposes deep problems with America's legal system and academic culture. Clarence Page on what the Duke lacrosse case has taught us. A review of Color and Money: How Rich White Kids Are Winning the War over College Affirmative Action by Peter Schmidt. A look at why Harvard wants you to be unhealthily thin. A review of God's Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America by Hanna Rosin (and more and more and more).
From Bookforum, Roamin' Legions: Fifty years after the publication of On the Road, the question remains: Where was Kerouac going? (and more, and more from American Heritage). The Beats gave us a plague of lazy writers: Like it or not, they're responsible for turning impressionable young males into seriously bad authors. From TLS, a review of The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as writers in community by Diana Pavlac Glyer; a review of Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the margin of my time by Clive James; and 150 years after the birth of Joseph Conrad, a look back to E. V. Lucas's 1907 review of The Secret Agent — a book which reminds us "how simple men really are". A review of The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad by John Stape. A review of Joseph Conrad: His Moral Vision, by George A. Panichas.
From Ralph, a review of The Book That Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate The Books that Matter Most to Them. From American, a review of The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself by Susan Bell. Giving a book a high quotation: A carefully chosen epigraph can add an extra dimension, but trying to look learned will get you nowhere. Fans of books like Eats, Shoots and Leaves have nothing to fear. There is no reason to suppose that America is on its way to no one knowing the difference between quotation marks and emphasis. One of the week's best invented words: Remasculate: "to regain one's masculinity after engaging in a less-than-masculine activity". Are litblogs making writers risk-averse? How would the literary New Puritans have fared if they had launched their movement in the days of the blogosphere?
A review of The Cult of the Amateur: How today's internet is killing our culture by Andrew Keen. From The Economist's "Technology Quarterly", the idea of sending information through the air in the form of flashes of light is being given a high-tech makeover. The online numbers game: Measuring web traffic is far from an exact science, and that's a big problem for online advertisers. From OJR, how Robin Miller saved hundreds of newspapers... and won $2000. From New York, hard-charging editor-in-chief Col Allan spent the last year at the center of one embarrassing Post incident after another. But he remains the undaunted master of the tabloid art, and he can still drink you under the table. The celebrity interview is dead: Lennon's attack on McCartney, Nixon's near-confession, Bacon's revelations: none of these could have happened today.
From Finance & Development, The Rise of Sovereign Wealth Funds: We don't know much about these major state-owned players. The first chapter from Reputation and International Cooperation: Sovereign Debt across Three Centuries by Michael Tomz. The first chapter from The Social Construction of Free Trade: The European Union, NAFTA, and Mercosur by Francesco Duina. A review of Making Globalization Work by Joseph Stiglitz. Why capitalism needs terror: An interview with Naomi Klein, and a review of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Comment is free debates The Shock Doctrine. The thesis of a new book by Naomi Klein is that unconstrained free-market policies go hand in hand with undemocratic political policies (and more and more and more and more, and an excerpt). Robert Kuttner on the myth that nations become more democratic as they become more market-oriented.
From New Left Review, Richard Walker and Daniel Buck on The Chinese Road: The PRC’s breakneck transition to capitalism seen through the prism of 19th-century Europe and America, as its cities rehearse the processes analysed by Marx: commodification of land and labour, formation of markets and capitalist elites. What lessons might the West’s past hold for China’s future? Death by consumerism: As part of its "civilising mission" - and to deter independence - China is taking control of the Tibetan economy. Modernity is being imposed by force, creating ghettos and spreading deprivation across the countryside. The Tao of Junk: Pundits bemoan our trade deficit with China. But those container ships aren't heading home empty. China's eternal empire: Its power — dating back thousands of years — has always rested on restricting basic rights. A review of The First Emperor of China by Frances Wood.
From LRB, Perry Anderson on Depicting Europe. A review of Geert Mak's In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century. Overweight but underpowered: The European Union is an economic giant with surprisingly little clout. From Transit, directly after the fall of communism, hopes burgeoned for democracy and capitalism in a "new" eastern central Europe. What does the current climate of populism, and in many cases an accompanying extremist nationalism, mean for these hopes? Central Eastern Europeans must be given the time they need to unravel their complex legacy of Communism and Fascism. From Eurozine, Poland's relations with Germany, Russia, and Ukraine are determined by its perception of these countries' contrition — or lack thereof — for wartime damages. Sovereignty Wars: The troubled relationship between the European Union and Russia is about more than policies or interests - it reflects a fundamental clash between two political visions of the post-cold-war world.
From Governing, The Young and the Restless: There are proven ways to recruit and retain the emerging generation. Most states and localities don’t seem to know about them. From Government Executive, A Transformative Idea: In defense of a plan to create a U.S. Public Service Academy. Finding our way to great work: An article on Eleanor Roosevelt and the life of public service. Things can still only get better: Talk of moral decline shows that people still refuse to give up on the idea of a better world. Does capitalism make us more materialistic? Ben O'Neill investigates. A review of The Billionaire Who Wasn’t: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune by Conor O’Clery. Who’s the most charitable of us all? Celebrities don’t always make the cut. A review of Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World by Bill Clinton. And for My Second Act, I’ll Make Some Money: Athletes do it. So do movie stars. Why not former presidents?
Charles de Bartolome (Colorado) and Stephen Ross (Connecticut): The Race to the Suburb: The Location of the Poor in a Metropolitan Area. The first chapter from The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South by Matthew D. Lassiter. Not in Whose Backyard? America’s poorest neighborhoods are also its most polluted. What can be done? Scientists find out gentrification is bad for you: At a time when we hail creativity as an urban panacea from New York to Toronto, from Berlin to Shanghai, those who research the downside of gentrification, and expose social exclusion and marginalization will not go silently into the urban night. A review of Robert Moses and the Modern City by Hilary Ballon and Kenneth T. Jackson. The Morphing Megalopolis: In the 1950s, the urban corridor from Boston to Washington looked like a radical innovation in human settlement.
Harold Southerland (FSU): Love for Sale: Sex and the Second American Revolution. Libby Adler (Northeastern): The Dignity of Sex. From TLS, a review of In Praise of the Whip: A cultural history of arousal by Niklaus Largier. Wide-Stance Sociology: A legendary social science book is back in the news. Scott McLemee looks at a controversial classic, Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places by Laud Humphreys. So Many Men's Rooms, So Little Time: Christopher Hitchens on why men like Larry Craig continue to court danger in public places. Gay By Choice? An article on the Science of Sexual Identity: If science proves sexual orientation is more fluid than we've been led to believe, can homosexuality still be a protected right? The Larry Craig story, combining as it does the libidinal and the scatological, has been a comic bonanza. Larry Craig's downfall: In 20 years, the sexual issues and tensions that led to Craig's demise will not matter anymore.
David Hugh-Jones (Essex): Federalism and Democratic Forms. Chris Bonneau (Pittsburgh): The United States Supreme Court: Continuity and Change. Mark Tushnet (Harcard): The Rights Revolution. Scott Shapiro (Michigan): The Hart-Dworkin Debate: A Short Guide to the Perplexed. Brian Z. Tamanaha (St. John's): Understanding Legal Pluralism: Past to Present, Local to Global. Brian Bix (Minnestota): Law as an Autonomous Discipline. Steven Douglas Smith (San Diego): Jurisprudence: Beyond Extinction? An interview with Steven Smith, author of Law's Quandary. If you are looking for the future of legal scholarship, chances are that you may find it not in a treatise or the traditional law review but in a different form, profoundly influenced by the blogosphere. A review of The Constitutionalist: Notes on the First Amendment by George Anastaplo.
From Metapsychology, a review of Neuroscience and Philosophy: Brain, Mind, and Language by Maxwell Bennett, Peter Hacker, Daniel Dennett, and John Searle; a review of Neuroethics. A review of Cerebrum 2007: Emerging Ideas in Brain Science; a review of The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God by David J. Linden; and a review of How the Body Shapes the Way We Think: A New View of Intelligence by Rolf Pfeifer and Josh C. Bongard. Mind Over Manual: Despite the great progress being made in neuroscience, we still don’t have a clear picture of the brain mechanisms underlying most mental illnesses. Low Technologies, High Aims: MIT has nurtured dozens of Nobel Prize winners in cerebral realms, but lately it has turned its attention toward concrete thinking to improve the lives of the poor.
The Washington Post asks educators, lawmakers and others for their views of No Child Left Behind, and what might improve it. Teaching Past the Test: Schools are leveraging data collected for No Child Left Behind to improve individual student performance. Students have real-life problems too: Grades and learning often pale in comparison to the hard-luck realities faced outside the classroom. You and Your Quirky Kid: What parents and experts say about the children who just don't fit in. An interview with William J. Bennett on all things education. Maryland's Joppatowne High School became the first school in the country dedicated to churning out would-be Jack Bauers. An interview with Abigail Jones and Marissa Miley, authors of Restless Virgins: Love, Sex, and Survival at a New England Prep School. Come Back, Mr. Chips: Stereotyping, low pay, lack of role models. Why the number of men teaching in schools is at a 40-year low.
From BBC Magazine, one of literature's great conspiracy theories has new impetus with Sir Derek Jacobi questioning whether William Shakespeare of Stratford really wrote the works associated with him. So what are the arguments for and against this man really being the Bard? The introduction to Shakespeare's Wife by Germaine Greer. A review of Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary by Henry Hitchings (and an excerpt). 175 years after the death of Scotland’s most celebrated novelist, Murray Pittock asks if Walter Scott was an enemy of the Enlightenment, or its champion. A review of Scotland's Books by Robert Crawford. He's seen it all: They don't call him "Famous Seamus" for nothing - the Nobel Prize-winner has won the Whitbread twice and sells more books in Britain than any other living poet.
From Ralph, a review of American Windmills: An Album of Historic Photographs; a review of Past Tents: The Way We Camped by Susan Snyder. A review of Guerrilla Gardening: A Manualfesto, by David Tracey. Climbing trees, and reading about them, is back in fashion. From high in the canopy, Robert Macfarlane finds a new perspective on our need to reconnect with nature, and more on The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane. A review of The Volcano Adventure Guide by Rosaly Lopes. A review of Marshes: The Disappearing Edens by William Burt. A review of The Unnatural History of the Sea by Callum Roberts. A review of The Most Important Fish in the Sea Menhaden and America by H. Bruce Franklin. A review of Jonathan Miles’s The Wreck of the Medusa: The Most Famous Sea Disaster of the Nineteenth Century.
From HNN, an article on the Saudi Billionaire vs. Cambridge University Press. The University of Michigan Press halts — but may resume — the distribution of Overcoming Zionism by Joel Kovel, a book published in Britain arguing that creation of Israel was a mistake. Thanks, Mr. Nabokov: A trove of rejection files from Alfred A. Knopf Inc. includes dismissive verdicts on the likes of Jorge Luis Borges (“utterly untranslatable”) and Sylvia Plath (“There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice”). Reading serious non-fiction books about current and pressing issues — apart from name-calling books by political hacks and right-wing bitches with flowing Breck-girl hair — is on its deathbed. From Britannica, an article on guilty pleasure books: Mysteries, True Crime Books and Best-Selling “Trash”: Hidden in a Brown-Paper Wrapper. Could you read 100 novels in 100 days?