Just a few links

May 14, 2021

A strange (gloriously wonderful and poetic in an oblique way) thing happened today and I may write about it later.  But for now, more prosaic matters: THE LINKS.


What genetic research can tell us about the Scythians.  


Very helpful piece by John Ganz, who I am learning from these days, on "cultural despair" and right-wing intellectuals. 


Nice piece by David Brooks, who’s been interesting to me of late, as annoying as I find that to admit.  I don't agree with what he says about the left, but I think he's on to something regarding the right: 

“Over the last decade or so, as illiberalism, cancel culture and all the rest have arisen within the universities and elite institutions on the left, dozens of publications and organizations have sprung up. They have drawn a sharp line between progressives who believe in liberal free speech norms, and those who don’t.

There are new and transformed magazines and movements like American Purpose, Persuasion, Counterweight, Arc Digital, Tablet and Liberties that point out the excesses of the social justice movement and distinguish between those who think speech is a mutual exploration to seek truth and those who think speech is a structure of domination to perpetuate systems of privilege.

This is exactly the line-drawing that now confronts the right, which faces a more radical threat. Republicans and conservatives who believe in the liberal project need to organize and draw a bright line between themselves and the illiberals on their own side.”


And I really found this piece, by Becca Rothfield, thoughtful and provocative: The problem with “sanctimony literature”:

it “is, in effect, an extension of social media: it is full of self-promotion and the airing of performatively righteous opinions. It exists largely to make poster-cum-authors look good and scrollers-cum-readers feel good for appreciating the poster-cum-authors’ goodness. … Sanctimony literature has similarly affirming and consoling effects: it serves to make us feel proud that we share its ethical assumptions.”


“we also know exactly what goodness, in the circumscribed world of the novels in question, boils down to. What we are denied is the intellectual excitement of trying to answer the exceedingly complicated question of what a morally serious person should be like. It is because sanctimony literature eschews moral realism that it foregoes the sort of style that might at last confer substance."


Be well everyone.  I am so glad that some of you who read this write to me.  (Maybe all of you who read this write to me--could be a small audience.  But if so, you're very high quality, let me tell you!)  I kvetch about technology all the time, but getting a note from someone you've never met (as long as it's not a death threat or an offer to extend the warranty on my car) is enormously, unquantifiably, incommensurably cheering.