Saturday, August 15th, 2020
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
Jordan Peterson has huge charisma, period, and his recent travails serve to render him even more human. His efforts to ground our current unmoored times (the chaos referred to in the title) in the fertile garden of our intellectual and spiritual heritage (the curative order) are the work of the angels.
The first of his 12 Rules for Life is Nietzschian, an evolutionary biological backgrounder for the maxim to fake it till you make it. The second is Rousseauian: we must love ourselves with amour de soi rather than amour-propre. But the whole thing — and particularly this second rule — is peppered with discussion of founts fundamental to me — Genesis, Taoism, Jung — so that the book feels like it fell out of my own mind, albeit a more disciplined, erudite, deeper version.
Either because of this over-familiarity or because the book is in fact junk food, I cannot remember anything of it as I revisit a few weeks later to write this. Is Peterson merely an Alain de Botton of the Right, a popularizer / informal codifier of what every self-respecting Westerner already knows? Either I need to pick up the book and start again, or perhaps stop reading everything else and get back to the Bible, Plato and Aristotle.
Friday, April 3rd, 2020
Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life
Nusseibeh’s central thesis (well, secondary thesis, the primary implicit one being that the Palestinian people should all along have appointed both his Dad and then him their oh-so-reluctant leaders) I too have felt almost in my bones: that Israelis and Palestinians are natural allies. Or, more accurately, that there’s a natural affinity which will enable us to be powerful allies if and when we ever get over our admittedly fundamental conflict.
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
A Beginner's Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations
Written aphoristically, long-time Kyoto resident travel writer Pico Iyer provided me with a new view of a major people: that the Japanese exemplify Oscar Wilde’s catechism that style is substance, surface depth. One telling anecdote from his pal the Dalai Lama: when speaking to Western audiences, they perk up at the philosophy and tune out for the rituals; with the Japanese it’s the opposite. There are many more such reflections. One reviewer says the book is profound, and I guess that is the case, yes.
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
Meir Kraus, a fellow at the research center at the Shalom Hartman Institute, sets out challenges, lessons, options and insights for a balanced and feasible option on Jerusalem as part of a wider solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Saturday, October 5th, 2019
A conversation on Jewish concepts of sin ABA failure with David Bashevkin that could have gone on a lot longer. Very good stuff for those needing to augment their awareness that we are in the Days of Awe.
Wednesday, September 25th, 2019
Mototaka Nakamura, who has published a score of climate-related papers on fluid dynamics, has written a small book in Japanese and English entitled Confessions of a Climate Scientist: The Global Warming Hypothesis is An Unproven Hypothesis arguing that we lack the tools to forecast temperature. He writes:
In climate research and modelling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.
Sun, ice, oceans, clouds: none are being modelled with any approximation to reality, he writes.
Monday, July 22nd, 2019
Monday, May 13th, 2019
We must be facing this: David Gelertner on giving up Darwin. Like Smith’s invisible hand and even Newton’s laws of physics, these glorious, newly-algorithmic cosmologies — the precursors to our wonder-world of bitty digitalism — aren’t the full explanation.
Sunday, November 11th, 2018
It All Adds Up
Bellow is meaty to pick up on any topic; we’re confident in the arms of a leading novelist. His tributes to old friends read the richest, even though impressionistic, more journalistic pieces such as his coverage of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty signing are also satisfying.
Tuesday, October 30th, 2018
Species eradication and wiping out animal populations seem to me a more dire problem than mere climate change. It should be our environmental priority.
Wednesday, September 26th, 2018
More incredibleness: sefaria.org, a beautiful bountiful platform of the Jewish texts. What an accomplishment.
Monday, September 10th, 2018
When Judaism curls into something surely bonkers and even deleterious: Orthodox Jewish women shamed for long wigs. Ah, to cover one’s hair with… hair.
Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018
Pinhas Inbari sheds new (to me) light on the roots of Palestinian nationalism, arguing that the similarities to Syria’s schisms are more than parallels but in fact the same issue: pan-Arabism (Fatah, Ba’athists) vs pan-Islamism (Hamas, ISIS).
Sunday, August 19th, 2018
On nationalism old and new. In Tablet, the prophetic columnist David P. Goldman discusses Yoram Hazony’s new book The Virtue of Nationalism.
Tuesday, July 10th, 2018
Tuesday, June 5th, 2018
Justice Anthony Kennedy: “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”
Thursday, May 31st, 2018
The Dawn of Day
This is a delicious book to pick up in spurts — BMW punchy as Emerson is Rolls-Royce bubbly — but I couldn’t say what it’s chiefly about, where it starts, where it ends, how it fits in with Nietzsche’s other books, nor whether I’ve even read it before (I do remember particular points but perhaps they’re also mentioned in the other books). As usual this 19th-century giant sounds as if he writes… this morning.
Thursday, May 24th, 2018
Michael Pollan’s everywhere-on-the-internet excursion into psychoactives is excerpted in The New York Times Magazine.
“I” now turned into a sheaf of little papers, no bigger than Post-its, and they were being scattered to the wind. But the “I” taking in this seeming catastrophe had no desire to chase after the slips and pile my old self back together.
Friday, April 27th, 2018
This review of The Jewish Joke: An essay with examples (less essay, more examples) has examples.
Sunday, April 1st, 2018
Michael Rubin at aei.org: Yes, Turkey has definitely become a rogue regime.
From my brief travels I came across the standard blue/red divide, but it’s more virulent in Turkey due to the revolutionary power of the local religion.
What did Jews tend to die of? The entry on morbidity in the Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906.
Friday, March 30th, 2018
When Galileo looked up at the night sky with his new-fangled teslescope one profound effect was the dislodging of the nonsensical metaphysical notion from Aquinas of the perfection of the stars.
Tuesday, February 27th, 2018
Wednesday, January 24th, 2018
Watching Mike Pence’s speech to the Knesset [transcript and video at Haaretz], Prime Minister Netanyahu can’t jump to his feet fast enough.
The US Vice President draws parallels between America’s and Israel’s stories. He sets a 2019 deadline for moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. And he recites Shehechianu in Hebrew.
This historic speech furthers the momentum of the new American way in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To paraphrase the Grateful Dead: More than this I will not ask.
Thursday, December 14th, 2017
Who showed up, who stayed home, and who broadcast a weather program while Erdoğan spoke at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit condemning America’s recognition of Israel’s capital. Jordan was there but Saudi, Egypt and the UAR weren’t.
Friday, September 8th, 2017
Where man could not unravel he learned to create.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Dawn of Day
Saturday, June 24th, 2017
He had me with his first-paragraph mention of Trattoria Da Enzo, my favorite. I’ve forwarded to visitors this panegyric to Rome by the incoming New York Times’ bureau chief. A lot of attractive restaurants mentioned and described. [via Juan Carlos Bronstein, who was unimpressed by the tone, as are many others in the comments]
Wednesday, June 21st, 2017
At the Borei Choshech blog about depression and Jewish prayer, a brief discussion on an important part of the Jewish morning prayer, Elohai Neshama.
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016
An inviting tour of the Hebrew writer’s oeuvre as Shai Agnon is translated into English. [via aldaily.com]
Saturday, July 16th, 2016
“The Kemalist era in Turkish history lasted for almost 100 years, but finally came to an end in the last 18 hours.” A great balance between up-to-the-minute reports and historical background, Walter Russell Mead live-blogs the failed Turkish Coup.
“Belief” has been at all times—for example in Luther—only a cloak, a cover, a curtain behind which the instincts played their game.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo
Thursday, July 7th, 2016
There can only be religion where there is a desert country.
Gertrude Stein, Everybody’s Autobiography
Tuesday, May 10th, 2016
Friday, December 25th, 2015
A professor of medieval history laments the contemporary propensity to be surveilled just as Europeans were by the Church. [Via aldaily.com]
Sunday, April 19th, 2015
A sharply written discussion of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina in Commentary Magazine: “It is not exactly that Stiva has a bad memory. Rather he has an excellent forgettory.”
Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
Monday, July 7th, 2014
By looking the other way and unconditionally supporting and arming Maliki, President Obama has only lengthened and expanded the conflict that President Bush unwisely initiated, argues — nay, explains — a US official who saw it all. A must-read.
Thursday, April 24th, 2014
An enquiry into one of Egyptians’ psychic scourges: conspiracist anti-Semitism.
Sunday, April 6th, 2014
But men are better than their theology.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sunday, September 8th, 2013
Monday, August 12th, 2013
Dr Mark Post of Maastricht University serves the world’s first non-lethal hamburger.
Friday, June 7th, 2013
Leon R. Kass on The Ten Commandments is the opening essay at the new http://mosaicmagazine.com.
Monday, May 27th, 2013
Sorry, but more David P. Goldman, this time at Tablet with “Dumb and Dumber” (not his title) on recent US Middle East policy. He begins: “Errors by the party in power can get America into trouble; real catastrophes require consensus.” Like liberals, neocons got mugged by reality.
Tuesday, May 21st, 2013
The horror, the horror. Spengler looks at Syria. What we’ve seen so far, he says, are merely the preliminary skirmishes of Sunni-Shi’ite war.
Saturday, January 19th, 2013
Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
“The Bashar al-Assad regime commits atrocities that are designed to be unforgivable,” Spengler postulates, “in order to persuade their base to fight to the end.” His conclusion? “Let the Alawites have their enclave, and let the Sunni Arabs have a rump state, minus the Syrian Kurds, whose autonomy would be an important step towards an eventual Kurdish state.” Me, I’d be willing to wager just three things about the Middle East in 50 years: there will be Israel, there will be Kurdistan, and there will be Arabs. PS — Doesn’t Goldman look like Gary Oldman playing James Baker III?
Monday, November 5th, 2012
James Bond and the Jews in The Forward. While the article itself is unfortunately flimsy — I could have done better myself — there’s some knowledgeable discussion in the comments.
Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
Andrew C. McCarthy in National Review: The challenge is Sharia.
Tuesday, October 16th, 2012