All entries by this author

Hugh Kenner *

Nov 26th, 2003 | Filed by

The New York Times obituary.… Read the rest


Nov 26th, 2003 12:35 am | By

More update on Stephen King at the National Book Awards and the whole ‘You should feel guilty for not reading John Grisham’ line. Excellent comments from Terry Teachout here and here. And the story in the Independent.Read the rest

Dr Fox

Nov 25th, 2003 9:12 pm | By

A kind and helpful reader alerted me to this article in an email yesterday. It’s very interesting (and also rather amusing, especially at the beginning), but it turns out it doesn’t corroborate what I’m saying in quite the way I thought it might. But that’s okay, because it does raise another issue, which I think it’s worth talking about.

The claim of the article is that difficulty carries prestige, quite independent of content or substance. That educated people will rate a lecture or article more highly if it is ‘difficult’ than if it’s not (with the substance remaining the same). But the trouble is, the measure of difficulty is not a very good one, as the author, Scott Armstrong, acknowledges … Read the rest

GM Propaganda War Not Helpful *

Nov 25th, 2003 | Filed by

If each side leaves out important facts, conclusions are obscured and the public is confused.… Read the rest

Stephen King Revisited

Nov 24th, 2003 11:46 pm | By

Update – I commented a few days ago on Stephen King’s strange remarks at the National Book Awards. They’re having a very lively discussion of the same subject at Crooked Timber today.Read the rest

Amazing Mess

Nov 24th, 2003 11:34 pm | By

Serendipity is always fun. I tend to experience a lot of it, because my bookshelves are so peculiarly organized, and also double-shelved, so that it’s easy to forget what’s behind the front row – I’m always rummaging around looking for one book and ending up with five or six others that I’d been thinking of looking for, wondering where I’d put, wishing I had in my hand. And everything is like that. I’m not very tidy. There are forgotten magazines, forgotten notes, forgotten drafts of essays and articles, forgotten all sorts of things. Nothing that will decay – I’m careful about that – no oozy apples or slimy pears turning up after months of wondering what that smell is. But … Read the rest

Karachi *

Nov 24th, 2003 | Filed by

William Dalrymple on what Lévy got wrong in his book on the murder of Daniel Pearl.… Read the rest

Authenticity or Depravity? Murder and Mayhem As Entertainment

Nov 24th, 2003 | By Barney F. McClelland

Those of us in the “flyover” region of the Midwest were treated to a horrific spectacle yesterday clearly illustrating how sick our “culture” (and I use this word in its broadest possible sense) has become. Dennis Greene, 31, was convicted by a jury of murdering his 28 year-old wife, Tara. Greene was sentenced to life in prison for nearly decapitating the junior high school math teacher and mother of their seven-year old son, Chi’An, who witnessed the murder.

If this is not enough, there is more to the story. After the murder, Greene fled to his hometown of Chicago hoping to evade authorities. There he shot a “rap video” where he boasted of “killin’ da bitch” and “cut her neck … Read the rest

Book Reviews That Say No *

Nov 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

‘It is a real pity that argued dissent is regularly caricatured as “hatchet job”, “savage attack” and other such bulking agents.’… Read the rest

Darwin and Hooker and Botany *

Nov 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

An intellectual collaboration in letters.… Read the rest

The Cultural Turn *

Nov 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

Breathless celebration of the fact that these people are human should give way to finer-grained questions.… Read the rest

What Became of Intellectuals on TV? *

Nov 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

Ayer, Berlin, Russell, Miller, Sontag, Magee, Bronowski – not much of that on the box now.… Read the rest

Crowded Barrel

Nov 22nd, 2003 11:58 pm | By

Oh dear, oh dear, I really shouldn’t. But I’m going to. Pester another fish in another barrel. Because it’s quite interesting how lame their arguments are, how beside the point or redundant or both. Either they accuse me of not talking about that which I never said I was talking about, or they say something I already said.

I have to say I found the ‘Bad Writing’ article extremely dissapointing. Like, unfortunately, too much criticism of theory it was utterly, utterly trivial. I mean, was this what the ‘theory wars’ were all about, that some people dislike Judith Butler’s use of subordinate clauses?

But ‘Bad Writing’ isn’t criticism of theory, it is what it says it is: a criticism of … Read the rest

Is Religion Adaptive? *

Nov 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

Not so you’d notice, Richard Dawkins says.… Read the rest

What is a ‘Jewish Intellectual’? *

Nov 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

And what is a ‘Muslim intellectual’? Is there a double standard in France?… Read the rest

An Agenda

Nov 22nd, 2003 12:02 am | By

A few days ago we received an email from a new and enthusiastic fan of B&W, telling us we would be even more wonderful than we already are if we linked to Keith Burgess-Jackson at TechCentralStation. Err, thought I. I don’t much like TCS, though I have seen an occasional interesting article there, and I think finally linked to one. I did a N&C about this at some point – about the quandary of seeing an interesting and/or relevant article at a site which is so free markety-rightwing that I really hate to link to it even if I quite like a particular piece. It is a quandary. On the one hand if the article is good then the article … Read the rest

Brownie Points?

Nov 21st, 2003 9:08 pm | By

It just never goes out of style, does it, berating people for liking things that not everyone likes. We just cannot get enough of that kind of thing. Witness Stephen King at the National Book Awards on Wednesday, as reported by the Guardian.

King called on the publishing industry to pay more attention to writers such as himself, accusing the literati of a “blind spot” when it came to popular fiction. “What do you think,” he asked, “you get social academic brownie points for deliberately staying out of touch with your own culture?” He accused many in publishing of making it “a point of pride” never to have read anything by mega-selling authors such as John Grisham, Tom Clancy and

Read the rest

Mind Body Spirit – the Snake Oil of Psychology *

Nov 21st, 2003 | Filed by

You discover your new friend owns 50 self-help books. What to do? Escape.… Read the rest

Stephen King Rebukes Grisham-Avoiders *

Nov 21st, 2003 | Filed by

Because if it’s a best-seller there can’t possibly be any good reason not to read it, right?… Read the rest

‘Frontier Medicine in Biofield Science’ *

Nov 21st, 2003 | Filed by

And other strange frontiers funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.… Read the rest