Hi everyone! Or, anyone. Apologies for the three-month hiatus. There was nothing event-ish about the break, nothing dramatic, let alone traumatic, unless you count the pandemic, the warm, a very busy work schedule, and the like. And of course I have been struggling with my deep desire to finish (or at least advance) some larger academic writing I've been doing (two books!), and so much of my energy has gone in that direction, pretty self-indulgently, I'm afraid. So, for multiple reasons I was just not drawn to putting stuff up here. But what's weird is, I continued to gather pieces to eventually put up here. So something in my mind was still thinking about the blog.
I don't know how reliable this will be, but I hope to off-load some of this stuff on you guys. We'll see how this goes. Here's a first start:
Terry Teachout—a drama and music writer—died late last year. I had been reading his stuff for a while, and following him on twitter for the last couple years. He’s wonderfully vivid about his life, sometimes in painful ways. This is great about him: “Terry possessed an extraordinary talent, all the more extraordinary because his life’s work was a defense of the value, meaning, and profundity of ordinariness.”
Yet another good piece about this human, whose watch has ended:
And yet another good piece on Teachout. He occupied a strange space—personally dispositionally conservative, but not a centrally political creature, able to have relationships with anyone who cared and talked about art, sort of committed to middle America and even the middlebrow, interestingly transparent in his private life when grief and love met him. This is a good piece by a much more liberal writer.
Smart article about an older man who went back to college in his 70s. Not just heart-warming, but important for the future of higher education. One of the other, much younger, students said: “was impressed by the way that Ciro modeled both how to use his voice in class but also how to hold back and let others have the floor. “He really helped people speak their truth; it was like having another professor in the class, a coach.””
As Thomas Mann (no, not that Thomas Mann) is quoted in this piece,
“Even those current Republican senators whose earlier careers indicated a moral sense — Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Richard Burr, Roy Blunt, Lisa Murkowski, Robert Portman, Ben Sasse, Richard Shelby — have felt obliged to pull their punches in the face of the big lie and attempted coup.”
My question is, is this Trumpian dynamic more effective at consolidating a group than converting others to it? In other words, we should obviously recognize the short term dangers of this; but I wonder if the GOP has not in fact been backed into accepting a devil’s bargain, which condemns them in their current state to permanent minority status.
This is an amazing story. A man, having served in the US Air Force for 30 years, buys a house near his childhood home, thinking that one day he might move home and retire there; and it turns out to be the plantation on which his ancestors had been enslaved up until the Civil War.
Fun interview with the “Coffee Guru of Youtube.” I’ll check him out.
This is a hyperbolic piece, but it brings together a number of desperate pieces of evidence in a unified way, and for that it is very thought-provoking. However, it also has overwrought claims like this one:
“The liberal order is, in fact, deeply exclusionary. By promoting free markets, open borders, democracy, supranational institutions, and the use of reason to solve problems, the order challenges traditional beliefs and institutions that have united communities for centuries: state sovereignty, nationalism, religion, race, tribe, family.”
All for today!