June 01, 2016
Trying too hard
On the degeneration of a once-handsome city.
On the degeneration of a once-handsome city.
Edmund de Waal, A lecture on the weather, 2015 Happy the man who develops an obsessive interest early in life that remains with him and that he can turn to constructive account. Edmund de Waal is such a man: he alighted on ceramics as a boy and they have remained the focus of his working life ever since.
A review of The White Road: Journey into an Obsession by Edmund de Waal
Revisiting Conversations with the Dead, by Danny Lyon, almost half a century after its original publication.
On “Beauté Congo 1926–2015” at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris.
A review of Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
A few reflections on To Kill a Mockingbird in anticipation of Harper Lee’s new book releases.
Tintern Abbey has changed quite a bit from Wordsworth’s day.
On the sad state of the West English town.
A review of Michel Houellebecq’s newest novel Soumission.
Relentless regulation destroys the necessary conditions for free speech.
The German poet, playwright, and Marxist.
On the one-legged poets W. E. Henley and W. H. Davies.
It is a curious paradox that those who inveigh most vehemently against race as a concept also campaign most vigorously for racial quotas by means of affirmative action. It is only a seeming paradox, however, because it is possible to acknowledge the existence of discrimination on the basis of mere physical difference without ascribing to that difference any greater taxonomic significance than its capacity to evoke the discrimination itself.
A review of A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History by Nicholas Wade
In savage foot-notes on unjust editions He timidly attacked the life he led . .
On the pleasures and pains of judging the Hippocrates Prize in poetry.
Every reader feels a sense of achievement on completing a book, which is why short books please. The pleasure of achievement comes without the pain of labor, and if we feel that we have cheated slightly by having chosen the easy path we can console ourselves that shortness is not necessarily shallowness.
A review of What W. H. Auden Can Do for You (Writers on Writers) by Alexander McCall Smith
Contrasting an exhibition of El Labrador at the Prado and a hyperrealism show at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
What would Solzhenitsyn’s Lenin have thought about modern Zurich?
A small town in North Yorkshire has turned out a surprising number of artists.
Chinese artist Yue Minjun speaks out about China’s problems in his paintings.
On relations between the French intelligentsia and the Soviets.
Several writers have been sentenced to death and reprieved: Dostoyevsky, for example, Arthur Koestler, and the greatest of all South African writers, Herman Charles Bosman. The first participated at a time of revolution in a circle that read subversive literature, the second was a political conspirator, and the third shot his stepbrother dead in a quarrel.
A review of Joseph Anton: A Memoir by Salman Rushdie
The first entry in our series “The digital challenge.” What does the future hold for printed books?
On Eileen Gray and her cold aesthetic.
Working in East Africa, I used to give an afternoon a week to a remote Catholic mission down a bumpy laterite road. It was run by a Swiss nun, aged about seventy, and, astonishingly, it was as spotlessly clean as the most expensive Helvetian clinic.
A review of Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion by Jean H. Baker
On “Diego Rivera: Mural for The Museum of Modern Art” at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
On architecture and art in Coventry.
On the meaning in material world.
On the architecture of Brasilia.
Reconsidering the power of photography.
On a disheartening trip to the Whitworth Gallery of Art, Manchester.
On the ex-PM’s new memoir.
Is it true that undisturbed on the dusty shelves of obscure bookshops lie poems of some merit?
On “Felix Nussbaum 1904–1944” at Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaisme, Paris.
On public virtue in the Victorian era.
On the masochism of John Stuart Mill.
Should we psychoanalyze the Bard?
Has there ever been an age in which middle-aged or elderly men have rejoiced at the rising standard of education among the young. The very idea seems absurd, almost against the nature of things.
A review of Bad Students, Not Bad Schools by Robert Weissberg
On a master’s lesson in true tolerance.
On the Swift-Johnson dialectic.
On the life & times of the great McGonagall.
A critical account of the “Chernyshevsky of individualism.”
Reflections from the Walker Art Gallery.
On the intellectual irresponsibility of Soviet sympathizers.
D. H. Lawrence reconsidered.
On the relics of oppression.
On lowness that proclaims itself.
On the cult of celebrity.
On the ignoble science of boxing’s hangers-on.
On the play, Whose Life Is It, Anyway?, by Brian Clark and the morality of patient autonomy.
On the moral consequences of relativism (from “The Dictatorship of Relativism.”)
On the impact and errors of Alan Sillitoe’s The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.
On “Black Is Beautiful” at De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam.
On England, France, and Ruskinian delusions.
On Le roi se meurt by Eugène Ionesco and the philosophy of Owen Flanagan.
On Manifesto for Silence: Confronting the Politics and Culture of Noise by Stuart Sim.
On José Ortega y Gasset and Sigmund Freud.
On La stratégie des antilopes by Jean Hatzfeld.
On the false profundity of Kahlil Gibran.
On Ted Honderich’s strange thoughts on punishment.
On the crank medical theories of George Bernard Shaw.
On the questionable legacy of Jack Kerouac and “On the Road.”
On discovering what ails Shakespeare’s king.
On dystopian novels.
On Pierre Bayard’s Comment parler des livres que n'on la pas lus.
A reply from Anthony Daniels.
On Nick Cohen’s What’s Left?: How Liberals Lost Their Way.
A response from Anthony Daniels.
On reexamining George Orwell’s classic tale of the Spanish Civil War.
On whether Ezra Pound will stand the tests of time.
On “The Yage Letters Redux” by William S. Burroughs & Allen Ginsberg.
A review of John Carey’s “What Good Are The Arts?”
On the Welsh poet.
On “Joshua Reynolds: The Creation of Celebrity” at Tate Modern, London, from May 26 to September 18, 2005 and “Frida Kahlo” at Tate Modern, London, from June 9 to October 9, 2005.
On Kenya’s significant but barely remembered Mau Mau rebellion.
On two stories in which we “see encapsulated the tragic predicament of modern man.”
How being a pundit stands in the way of spelling out proper distinctions in a clear and honest manner.
On Samuel Butler’s autobiographical novel The Way of all Flesh.
A review of The Strange Death of Moral Britain, by Christie Davies.
On the cult of Ernesto Che Guevara; irrational reflection “kept alive by a good dose of commercialism.”
The relationship between technical and moral progress, if there is one, is by no means easy to discern. The history of the twentieth century should be more than sufficient to disabuse anyone of the notion that mans expanding mastery of nature is invariably accompanied by an increase in his self-mastery.
On Robert Baden-Powell and the founding of the Boy Scout movement.
On Scott Turow’s attempt to tackle the subject of capital punishment in his new book, Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer’s Reflections on Dealing with the Death Penalty.
On Jeffrey Meyers’s new biography of this author whose “soul is a secret garden into which the elect may penetrate only after overcoming a number of perilous obstacles.”
Considering two literary prizes & the different ways in which they were undeserveded.
Carl Jung was one of the great gurus of the twentieth centruy. Is he still worth reading?
Reflections on how this peaceful country sowed the killing fields.
A review of In Praise of Nepotism: A Natural History, by Adam Bellow.
Reflections on growing up in a communist household.
A review of The Unsleeping Eye, by Robert J. Stove.
Ivan Illich, the polyglot Austro-Croatian-Sephardic-Mexican-American philosopher and social theorist, died at the beginning of December last in Bremen, Germany. He had his hour of fame in the first half of the 1970s, when he appeared to be the most radical radical on the market, but afterwards went out of fashion and soon faded both from view and from the bookshops.
Book browsing in these unenlightened cities.
A review of The Sexual Life of Catherine M. by Catherine Millet, translated by Adriana Hunter.
A review of Darwin’s Audubon: Science and the Liberal Imagination, by Gerald Weissmann.
On Senior Service: A Story of Riches, Revolution & Violent Death, by Carlo Feltrinelli.
The third in a series titled “The survival of culture.”
Anthony Daniels on The Politics of Sex and Other Essays: On Conservatism, Culture, and Imagination, by Robert Grant.
Considering bioethics & Peter Singer upon the publication of Culture of Death: The assualt on Medical Ethics in America by Wesley J. Smith.
Upon the publication of Frantz Fanon: A Biography, by David Macey.
Occasioned by PC, M.D.: How Political Correctness is Corrupting Medicine, by Sally Satel.
A review of The Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot, by Plinio Alueyo Mendoza, Carlos Alberto Montaner, and Alvaro Vargas Llosa & In the Shadow of the Liberator: The Impact of Hugo Chavez on Venezuala and Latin America, by Richard Gott.
A few months ago I went to dinner with an old friend, a retired professor of great distinction who suffered throughout his career from the vituperation of his academic colleagues who took a view of their chosen subject almost diametrically opposed to his own. Now that he has been proved right, and they have been proved wrong, they denigrate his work as having been nothing more than a statement of the obvious.
The last time I visited the Nigerian writer Ken Saro-Wiwa in Port Harcourt, two years before he was hanged in the city’s prison, the naked corpse of a man lay on the sidewalk of the Aggrey Road, about a hundred yards from his office. Broiling in the noonday sun, the body was so inflated by the gases of decomposition that it looked as if it might ascend to heaven of its own accord, in a halo of black flies.
Regarding victimhood and its literary cachet