December 23, 2021

I'll start up again next week, I bet.  Merry Christmas!

Such a great piece by Jon Malesic, on the nature of discourse around “burnout” and what the phenomenon of burnout can tell us about how hard many people—especially in his case academics—work, and for what rewards?

From a vivid obit, not just of a life but of an era:

“From the time it opened in 1986, the Samovar, at 256 West 52nd Street, was less a restaurant than a civilization in exile, a refuge for writers, artists, musicians, dancers and poets who, like Mr. Kaplan himself, had either fled from or been banished by the Soviet Union. Everything that had been lacking there — joy, conviviality, free and uninhibited speech — abounded at the Samovar….“Roman is our Rick,” the Russian writer Solomon Volkov once said, referring to Humphrey Bogart’s restaurateur in “Casablanca.”

Wow—wish I had gone in its heyday.  Wish I had tried to go.

“Religious people are likely to be heartened by ­Debray’s interpretation of the Green movement. He not only vindicates the traditional institutions through which we once acknowledged the holiness of creation, but also finds inadequate the enthusiasms we have put in their place….But this is not, ultimately, a religious or even philosophical viewpoint. It is a ­sociology impregnated with nostalgia.”

This is a good piece by Christopher Caldwell on Regis Debray.

Progressive Policy Institute has a weekly “trade fact” (among other things) and the one for Dec 20 is interesting: the amount of financial remittances flowing back to home countries from migrant workers is double the entire amount of all foreign aid programs.  Indeed, as they say:

“If we combine all low- and middle-income countries (using the World Bank definition but excluding China, Russia, and EU members Bulgaria and Romania), trade is easily the largest earner, with remittances a fairly distant second and about equal to FDI and foreign aid combined:

$14,210 billion GDP$3,850 billion       Exports
$462 billion Remittances$267 billion       Foreign Direct Investment
$175-$250 billion*  Foreign Aid”

Shows you how important global flows of workers are to the world.

Interesting report on how comfortable Americans are at organizing the world into good and evil:

U.S. Christians are much more likely than religiously unaffiliated Americans to say that most things in society can be clearly divided into good and evil (54% vs. 37%). Nearly two-thirds of White evangelical Protestants (64%) say this, as do 57% of Black Protestants. Members of these two groups also attend religious services and pray at higher rates than other U.S. adults.

By comparison, only around half of U.S. Catholics (49%) and White Protestants who do not identify as evangelical (47%) say that most things in society can be clearly divided into good and evil.

Among those who identify their religion as “nothing in particular,” 43% say that most things in society can be clearly divided into good and evil. But far fewer atheists (22%) and agnostics (29%) say the same. Combined, these three groups make up the nation’s religiously unaffiliated population, also known as religious “nones”; overall, a majority of these unaffiliated Americans (62%) say most things in society are too complicated to be divided into good and evil.

A great (and apparently publicly available?) roundtable on Lisa Wedeen's book AMBIGUITIES OF DOMINATION.  One thing I want to note: I remember reading some of Wedeen's work back in the 90s, and I thought the influence of thinkers like Havel (esp around "living in truth") was pretty visible in her. In these exchanges, that's been replaced by people like Zizek. I think that is a loss--Havel's deeper, if less jargony.  Still, a good & enriching exchange.  Robyn Marasco's account of Wedeen as critiquing (but also developing) Weber seems esp good.

My Christmas tip: don't miss the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge.  10 AM EST on Christmas Eve--that's tomorrow, if you're not ready for Christmas yet.  Glorious.

Merry Christmas!