A few good links

July 26, 2021

Today I've been thinking about ethical integrity in today's world.  In On War, Clausewitz said "In war everything is very simple; but the simplest things are very, very difficult."  Sometimes everyday life feels like that as well--the clichés we learned growing up, about being decent, showing compassion, not being afraid of other people yelling at you, not caring what other people think, and many others: they're all true; but the difficulty is in acting on those claims.  Anyway, some links below.


9000 years ago, people were trading, or at least moving, obsidian 2000 miles across North America.  Amazing.


Where do new complicated ideas come from?  Normally, from the margins.  (It feels like Homi Bhabha taught this decades ago, but still.)


This piece has a useful contextualization and some of the debates flaring up right now around the idea of critique. 


An interesting article about the different ways this author has a tight in the James in the classroom, to undergrad and graduate students, over many decades. This is an interesting genre of writing, using the prism of your own classroom experience to illuminate your own relationship with an offer. I will keep it in mind.


Good piece about teaching a class organized exclusively around one book. I have done this as well, though with very large books, but even with large books it has been very satisfying.


Wow.  Oldest intact rock painting in Australia has been dated at approximately 17,300 years old.


A provocative piece by Mark Edmundson, who is worried that the New York Times has lost its authority in becoming a player in our political war. I think there’s something to his worry, so I might also play up the way that Trump was a distorting field which effectively forced people who are neutral to pick sides. I am mildly more hopeful than Edmundson is, that the Times can recover its authority in the wake of Trump. But maybe I should not be.

“In what may be her most illuminating essay, “What Is Authority?” Hannah Arendt says she should be asking not what authority is, but what it was. Genuine authority, she argues, has passed away from the world. The classical instance of authority was a cultural feature of ancient Rome. There people were guided by the best deeds and words of their ancestors. They could never hope to attain the virtue that the early generations possessed, but that virtue was their guide. The best Romans sought to reproduce the values of the elders in their own lives, and so always had guidance, and a secure base. They turned to the past for authority.”


Be well, everyone.