It's been a few days...classes finished, exams ahoy, and about to go on a big international trip (!!) for the first time since the pandemic began. (Well, we came back home to the US during the pandemic, in July of 2020, so maybe that's not technically accurate. But still.) Looking forward to the conferencing ahead (no, really), but it's meant that I've been bearing down on getting a lot of work done here, clearing the decks before I take off. So I've been silent--sorry.
Maybe during the trip I'll post more? Who knows?? For now, there's this.
A thick profile of Adam Tooze. This seems right: “What Tooze gives a reader like Williams is not a piercing, singular insight but a sense of rigorous mastery.…Tooze’s great intellectual power is a gift for synthesis.” Also the phenomenon of “Tooze boys,” which seems to me terrifying—I appreciate Tooze’s work, but it itself begs to be, well, related to other approaches, other methodologies. People looking for a person to tell them what to think are precisely not what we need more of. Also, I didn’t know that Tooze’s grandfather is Arthur Wynn, noted KGB agent and thus traitor to the UK. (People in Western Europe—the part that the KGB didn’t oversee for forty years—don’t like the analogy, but imagine if your grandpa was a Nazi spy; it’s akin to that.) Nonetheless, despite the questionable family history, despite the apparently endless psychodrama of his life (multiple therapists a week! my friend, I would say, balance that with some yoga, or even go to church or something like that)—every time I hear the guy I really enjoy his clear enthusiasm and the way the thoughts and ideas come tumbling out of his brain, through his mouth. He’s very much worth your while. Just don’t become a Tooze boy.
Vaclav Havel is always worth reading, and this piece, from 1994, is no exception, not least for its prescience. “To make my point briefly and simply: it seems to me that the fate of the so-called West is today being decided in the so-called East.”
A fascinating look at some new quantitative and archaeologically-based approaches to understanding premodern cities. Sounds to me like there’s some resonances with Georg Simmel on things here.
Fun little thing (by a parent and child, both astute) on Glenn Gould, whose recordings I’ve been in love with for almost thirty years, now.
Don’t ignore the fact that the Ukraine war is tied up with a larger religious dispute about the Eastern Orthodox world. “Moscow’s push for control in recent years has taken on aspects of a religious Cold War. The Russian and Eastern Orthodox prelates have battled for dominion over churches in Africa, Korea, Singapore and elsewhere.”
Is the Ukrainian war going to be a catalyst like the Korean War was? This piece asks that question. I don’t like what the author anticipates as conseqences, but he may well be right. Highly recommended.
Take good care, everybody.