Tuesday, June 19th, 2018
Tyler Cowen: Why read news?
If you follow the news, you will work at it every day, more or less. Better those compound returns than to do something else once every three months and a half.
Sunday, June 17th, 2018
Michael Chabon on Finnegan’s Wake .
As my year of diving languorously into the murky waters of the Wake wore on, I came to feel that it was this failure, this impossibility, this grand futility of the Wake, that constituted its secret theme, its true aboutness.
Saturday, June 16th, 2018
First she called herself a Joycean, then she realized she’s more of a Joyceaholic. A great fun rueful erudite walk around the city that is James Joyce.
This is not the first time I’ve broken up with Joyce. A couple of years ago I decided we were in a co-dependent relationship. Except how could that be true if I was the only dependent one?
Friday, June 15th, 2018
What a lovely episode of Westworld is the latest, “Kiksuya”. I think the show has been great recently, such as crashing into the Shogun version of Sweetwater in “Akane no Mai”, and James Delos’s incarceration and repeated relaunches in “The Riddle of the Sphinx”.
There is so much death depicted in Westworld; I haven’t watched Game of Thrones nor The Walking Dead so perhaps that is par for the course nowadays on tv but it’s new for me. In reality this level of mayhem only exists in pockets (and of course among the non-human), so I suppose it is important that we be reminded of it.
I love the ongoing reversal within Westworld that the real world shot outdoors is fake while the indoor sets underground, reached through Lost-like hatches, are real. And the music; beautiful! And the scenery, beautiful! Without these two elements, how great can a moving picture story ever be?
Tuesday, June 12th, 2018
Thursday, June 7th, 2018
The Web is coming to the Watch! No webfonts yet though.
Tuesday, June 5th, 2018
Saturday, June 2nd, 2018
Bernard Lewis, 102 by Yonoson Rosenblum:
Lewis was one of the first to take note of the “Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders,” issued in an obscure London Arabic paper in February 1998 by Osama bin Laden. Lewis began his piece in Foreign Affairs as only one deeply immersed in Arabic literature could, with attention to the declaration as a “magnificent piece of eloquent, at times even poetic, Arabic prose.”
At times, he has been a player, not just chronicler of events. Well before the Yom Kippur War, he was tasked by Egyptian diplomat Tahseen Bashir with bringing to Israeli leaders the message that President Sadat was ready to make peace. Bernard met with then prime minister Golda Meir, whom he describes as having a “personal filtration system” that allowed through only what she wanted to hear, as well as Moshe Dayan, Yitzchak Rabin and Menachem Begin. Only the last was eager to pursue the diplomatic feelers.
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.
Tuesday, May 29th, 2018
Newsweek excerpts Ronen Bergman’s upcoming book about the Mossad, Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations. The chapter recounts an Egyptian missile program being developed by ex-Nazi engineers (comic-book nefarious!).
After failing to subvert it with mail bombs and intimidation, Israel recruited a high-living Hitler favorite and produced enough evidence — echoes of Netanyahu’s recent evidence cache on Iran’s nuclear program — to persuade the German government to take benign steps to intervene and halt the program.
The institutional fallout included Isser Harel’s ouster, the IDF coming in to rebuild, and it seems the resignation of Ben-Gurion himself.
Monday, May 28th, 2018
Revenge of the Audience. In the comments after this Variety article about Solo, people consider why this movie is a box office disaster.
Watching Carrie Fisher tell her son about his Dad in Catastrophe, s3e6, she removes her glasses and her bitter old character eccentricities and we see just her face and eyes and she is as glittering onscreen as ever. Yet in the two new movies they gave her static scenes, which I think is a significant reason for Star Wars fatigue: what they did to the original troika in these new movies is distasteful.
I know why I didn’t see Solo: because The Last Jedi.
Sunday, May 27th, 2018
Saturday, May 26th, 2018
Prince William will make the first ever official tour of Israel by a member of the British royal family (Jordan first though).
I think this is quite a big deal; Britain has complicated feelings towards Israel — to wit, the country’s non-appearance to date in 25 James Bond movies.
Thursday, May 24th, 2018
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018
Great fun illustrated article on the aesthetics of Trumpism by Nick Hilton.
This next product, emblazoned with the number 45, looks more like a golfer’s baseball cap than a trucker’s … that styling — №45 in fancy serif font — would be perfectly at home on the label of a $100 bottle of scotch. Someone wearing this cap would not be immediately outing themselves as a ‘deplorable’ (as was, to a large extent, the appeal of the MAGA hat). It’s a flashback to a moment when the Trump brand was all about luxury hotels and links courses. No wonder it’s on sale.
Hilton also wrote a piece on Trump-based magazine covers.
Monday, May 21st, 2018
The Closing of the Hi-Gloss Colonel of American Letters Tom Wolfe’s Eyes. The New York Times obituary by Deirdre Carmody and William Grimes.
Caroline Glick praises the genius of Trump’s recognition of Israel’s capital. I’d go further: its most important function is as the crowning piece of pressure on the Palestinians to finally strike a deal with Israel and end the existential conflict; it transforms East Jerusalem from a given they have pocketed into a prize they can win.
What a bonanza it will be when the Palestinians, like the surrounding Arab nations, finally acknowledge they are licked, and accept what they can get from intense genuine negotiations. There should be little shame in admitting defeat — after all, the combined armies of the Arab nations repeatedly failed to defeat Israel. The ideal models here are Japan and Germany, which, after defeat by the United States and the Allies, reconstituted themselves, moved on, and with their national genius become formidable in their own realms. The Palestinians too can become formidable, well positioned to become at very least the eternal prospering middlemen between powerful Israel and the wider Middle East.
70 years after independence, Israel is flourishing in nationhood and statecraft, with a burgeoning birthrate, economy, set of alliances; it has likely possessed nuclear weaponry since 1963, an ICBM global delivery system since 2008. Indeed, Israel under-projects its power; David Goldman accurately coined her a “pocket superpower”. All this means that as Israel strengthens and they weaken, the longer the Palestinians continue to hold off the less they will eventually get.
Up to now, the only pressure the Palestinians faced to encourage them to make a deal was Israeli settlements in the West Bank, bargaining chips being built in front of their eyes. Now under Trump, the USA has changed its approach and added its own diplomatic pressure to bear — epitomized by the Jerusalem recognition. More fundamentally, the region has changed; the Palestinians’ traditional patrons and enablers — Egypt and Saudi Arabia — have at the very least lost interest in their perpetual campaign against Israel.
This sea-change will hopefully lead the next generation of Palestinian leadership to realize that there is no longer any benefit to holding out (not that there ever was) and succeed in conveying this to the people. Here’s hoping, and to fruitful and harmonious דו-קיום (co-existence) sooner than we think possible.
Saturday, May 12th, 2018
Make it work, ‘cos you’ve got opposites.
Friday, May 11th, 2018
“The Moment” is an occasional column/blog by novelist Amit Chaudhuri in The Paris Review.
Wednesday, May 9th, 2018
Tuesday, May 8th, 2018
Even as the USA is troubled at the national level, it is often flourishing locally, argues James Fallows, who has spent five years criss-crossing the country with his wife.
“America is becoming more like itself again,” he writes. “More Americans are trying to make it so, in more places, than most Americans are aware.”
This is good, it seems to me; better than if the reverse were true.
Monday, May 7th, 2018
Saturday, May 5th, 2018
I keep referring back to this article by Kyle Chayka — beautifully and ironically illustrated by Daniel Hertzberg — and in a nice homologue I keep forgetting the term it coins, airspace:
It’s the realm of coffee shops, bars, startup offices, and co-live / work spaces that share the same hallmarks everywhere you go: a profusion of symbols of comfort and quality, at least to a certain connoisseurial mindset. Minimalist furniture. Craft beer and avocado toast. Reclaimed wood. Industrial lighting. Cortados. Fast internet. The homogeneity of these spaces means that traveling between them is frictionless, a value that Silicon Valley prizes.
The title says it’s sterile but is it? The word never appears within the article. Isn’t airspace more a vocabulary? Here in Brighton there are nasty pastiches of it (Tortilla: Real Californian Burritos and Tacos), lovely expressions (Gails Bakery) and sophisticated extensions (Smallbatch Coffee).
Thursday, May 3rd, 2018
Ben Thompson concisely contrasts Amazon and Apple. “I’m not sure that Amazon will beat Apple to $1 trillion, but they surely have the best shot at two.”
Eric Posner and Glen Weyl provide some diagnosis of and solutions for our new Gilded Age.
Joss Whedon on making The Avengers: “There’s very little that I didn’t look at. It’s like, This is a Dr. Strangelove moment. This is The Abyss. This is His Girl Friday. It’s constant. You have to have all that stuff sort of in a blender in your head.”
“Jon [Favreau] said, ‘Look into his eyes. If you look into his eyes you will know. Is he being asked a question or is he asking the question?’” On the making of Iron Man’s HUD.
Tuesday, May 1st, 2018
Ehud Yaari in The American Interest: “Israeli inaction came face-to-face with Iranian proactivity, and Israel now finds itself counting its losses even as the Syrian war winds down.” It seems we have been fighting the last war.
Jaron Lanier on social media: “We got into this by trying to be socialist and libertarian at the same time, and getting the worst of both worlds … we have to choose.”
Sunday, April 29th, 2018
“Our statement is a non-statement.” In this 2007 interview, Robert Culp (“the talent”) speaks of I Spy and his partner Bill Cosby (“the genius”).
Friday, April 27th, 2018
This review of The Jewish Joke: An essay with examples (less essay, more examples) has examples.
Thursday, April 26th, 2018
I liked Michelangelo because the obsessive and extreme torsion of his figures was so obviously derived from that of Jack Kirby.
Geoff Dyer, Comics in a Man’s Life
I can’t go for a few moments without sliding back my chair and gazing with massive self-love at my library.
Geoff Dyer, on books, in Unpacking My Library
Living abroad meant a move out of quotation marks.
Geoff Dyer, on books, in Unpacking My Library
Saturday, April 21st, 2018
In Amtrak’s magazine The National, alum David Schisgall welcomes the College’s new overlordettes, for in July 2018, after years of legal wranglers and decades of dusty nazal-gaving, Deep Springs will go co-ed.
Friday, April 20th, 2018
Another nice ongoing Grauniad series, this one where authors and writers describe their typical writing day.
Eventually I get down to writing and then the real problems begin.
Friday, April 13th, 2018