Links for an almost full moon

December 04, 2022

Where we live, out in the country, buffered from any town by mountains, we have good night skies.  And on cold nights, like tonight, if it is a clear sky, the stars and the moon are emphatically brilliant.  And when the moon is full, or almost so, again like tonight, the shadows it casts on the ground are as sharp as its possible for shadows to be.  But the texture of the world displayed is distorted; all color is drained, leaving nothing but shades of gray, and the whole, especially when you look at things more than twenty or so feet from where you stand, gives a very distorted sense of depth and distance.  It is as if it is daylight, but the sun is encased in ice, and it throws shadows with precision, but it befuddles our sense of distance.  Still, the light through the trees and their bare branches, with their skeletal shadows on our hillside, and the mountains on our horizons, painted with this pale, bleached illumination, is a wondrous sight.  I hope it never goes away, and I hope you have your own version of it, wherever you are.  It is a nearly full moon tonight, and for the next several days; go outside one evening and look up at it.

And then come back in and check out these links!


A nice memoir excerpt by Darryl Pinckney, working for the New York review of books, and with Elizabeth Hardwick, in the 1970s.


This is a great example of scholarship about the pre-modern, that is before printing. Cause you a lot of the stuff that class assists and people who study integrity in the Greco Latin world get up to. This little blog post is possible only because of the last several centuries of meticulous scholarship by many different thinkers across many generations


“Why are such thinkers relevant? Because their way of thinking, the system they have designed, is found congenial, or has an explanatory power given the circumstances we face today. We search in their writings for explanations of  our current ills. The longer the social scientist is relevant, the more important he/she is. I do not think that anyone who has read even one chapter of Plato’s “Republic” or Aristotle’s “Politics” was  not struck by how extraordinary relevant they are. This is greatness. And this is what Marx has in abundance.…Our own age is the age of pettiness and if our objectives are petty, we cannot even begin to conceptualize that somebody looks beyond that.”

Branko Milanovic thoughtfully responds to a recent silly paper about why Marx is so widely read in the modern world.  Worth reading his response (I don’t think it’s worth reading the paper that provoked it, though.)


This really is one of the most astonishing and unambiguous moral transformations of my lifetime.  I say to my students, “when I was a kid, everybody smoked and nobody was gay; now it’s different.”  The suddenness of acceptability of same-sex relations, and marriage in particular, has been an event only taking several decades: astonishingly fast for a major moral transformation.  (Which this is.)  Contrariwise, the ethical stigmatization of smoking today is nowhere near as widespread as pro-same sex relations, but it is something that was utterly inconceivable, I think, when I was young.  (And to be clear, I too am opposed to smoking, which killed both my parents and a couple of my aunts; I’m just surprised, a bit, at the moral stigmatization associated with it.)


Interesting piece about the history of humans domesticating the horse.


A beautiful exhibit of some pages of an illuminated City of God from the fifteenth century.


Nice piece on Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt, his new, vast, and perhaps greatest play, on (imho) the twentieth century and the twenty-first century’s relation to it.


Good night, everyone, wherever you are.