The argument of Surfaces and Essences may be stated fairly simply: When we as subjects attempt to make sense of any phenomenal experience in the world, which we do at every waking moment, we do so through a kind of quick cognitive shorthand, forging analogies between the unknown and past experience, both consciously and unconsciously.
The war on terror was sold as a war scarier than all the rest. Even now, it’s tempting to see America’s foreign-policy blunders in the early twenty-first century as aberrations born of panic, fear, and ignorance. The shock of September 11, the emergence of mysterious antagonists, and the Bush
The day after the Newtown, I wrote a blog post titled "Dumb Fucking Gun Nuts." It began by noting that I'm a gun owner myself. It's a .22 semiautomatic rifle that an old girlfriend, raised in a gun family, bought me years ago. The rifle's been sitting in a black vinyl zip-up bag I left in my father's
AS THE HORRORS OF THE SCHOOL MASSACRE IN NEWTOWN, Connecticut, had begun to sink in, and nestle their way into the broken anatomy of the American body politic, another shooting incident took place, this time in the Rochester, New York, suburb of Webster, on Christmas Eve. The gunmen in both incidents
<strong style="font-size: 10pt;">DURING THE 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN</strong>, every Republican candidate but one—Jon Huntsman—questioned, denied, or, in the case of Mitt Romney, openly mocked climate change and its consequences. “President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and
Renata Adler's newly reissued novels, Speedboat (1976) and Pitch Dark (1983), consist of anecdotes, vignettes, jokes, aphorisms, epigrammatic asides, and longer passages of prose—eclectic inventories of consciousness. Their immediate effect is that of a flea market in Samarqand or Ouagadougou, where the items on display are fractionally different enough, in style and provenance, from their cousins at the local swap meet to look like artifacts of an alternate universe. Adler's eye and ear for the peculiar are unmatched in American letters.
CLARICE LISPECTOR had a diamond-hard intelligence, a visionary instinct, and a sense of humor that veered from naïf wonder to wicked comedy. She wrote novels that are fractured, cerebral, fundamentally nonnarrative (unless you count as plot a woman standing in her maid’s room gazing at a closet
WAVES OF HISTORY, as they subside, leave behind a detritus of facts—“stupid things,” as Ronald Reagan memorably misspoke, since the little darlings never speak for themselves. They require legions of interpreters and translators before they make sense—and even then, they make sense only as
IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN CULTURE, intellectual celebrity requires the ability to hear the ideological background music of the historical moment, and to play effortlessly in tune with it. Some people have a special knack for this: One thinks of Francis Fukuyama announcing “the end of history” when