Some links for September 11

September 11, 2021

Hard to believe it was twenty years ago.  I've heard a couple podcasts where people are talking about this, then they admit they were in kindergarten, or ten years old, when it happened.  That seems outrageous to me, for some reason; so much of the experience was felt, was lived, that it's hard to know how to listen to people who think they know about something but weren't really around for it.

Then I think--isn't that the human experience more generally?  I certainly talk about things that happened long before I was ever born.  I suspect the full reality of history will always later generations, as they simply don't experience the symphonic phenomenology of living in the moment.  But maybe, on the flip side, such escape from the whole booming buzzing confusion allows them to see more clearly the durable facts of the reality.  I don't know; all I know is that, now having lived through a couple different "moments of history," I have a deeper awareness of what the difference is between a living memory of something (which has its own filters and evasions, to be sure), and an historical reconstruction of it.

In any event, I hope you have had a good day, away from whatever memories, or memorials, you have witnessed, or constructed, or endured.  I hope you did something to turn away from that day twenty years ago.  I think it maybe has lived too long in the American psyche as a livid wound.  I think it is beginning to be time to let the dead bury the dead.  

And for today, here are a few things I've found good to think with, lately:


This is pretty cool—Arendt’s recommendation letters (from Heidegger, Jaspers, and Mannheim; and Arendt’s brief rec letter for Susan Sontag!


Good review of a recent book by the sociologist John B Thompson on how books and the book business are being reshaped by “the digital revolution.” 


Encoding, pluripotency, multiplicity: three features of Bach’s music that reveal a great deal of its complexity.  This is a very helpful (to me, anyway) analysis of Bach’s fascination with structure (thus, counterpoint) and numerology in his music.


I think there is something to this. Because generation X has experience such a wide range of US foreign policy strategies, and because some of them were quite successful, I think we still hold out hope for the possibility of good foreign policy much more than our younger fellow citizens.


This is a really fine podcast interview between Ezra Klein and Michael Lewis, author of many good books. It touches a lot of things, including the conception of Lewis’s books, how he chooses his topics and what role actual humans rather than ideas playing that for him, and some of his techniques and getting close to humans to understand them. It also touches on Trump, and the character of media today, and even the dangers of social media. It also reveals a little bit about Ezra Klein, as finally his amour propre is made a topic of explicit discussion; this makes him simultaneously a (to me) somewhat more understandable person, and (also to me) a more pitiable one.


This is an exceptionally good, and by “good” I mean stupid, example of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good enough.


It’s kind of magical – – since hurricane Ivan, divers have discovered a heretofore-buried underwater Cypress Forest in the Gulf of Mexico.


Be well.  Stay safe.