All entries by this author

Five Thousand

Nov 11th, 2003 8:08 pm | By

I’ve been re-reading Philip Gourevitch’s We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, about the Rwanda genocide and what the US, the UN, Belgium didn’t do to stop it, and what France did to help it along. Or perhaps really I should include the US along with France, since we not only didn’t send troops ourselves, we urged other countries not to send troops either. It’s all, really, exceedingly uncomfortable reading.

And relevant to not one but two subjects we were discussing here yesterday: the inadequacy of blanket pacifism in the face of genocidal tyrannical regimes, and the inadequacy of blanket free-speechism in the face of genocidal regimes or movements that use speech, … Read the rest

Richard Wollheim *

Nov 11th, 2003 | Filed by

Chicago Tribune obituary.… Read the rest

Richard Wollheim *

Nov 11th, 2003 | Filed by

San Francisco Chronicle obituary.… Read the rest

Whither (or Wither?) Scholarship? *

Nov 11th, 2003 | Filed by

Are scholars all dead from the waist down? Is it all a waste?… Read the rest

Hindu Students Petition Against Book *

Nov 11th, 2003 | Filed by

An academic study of Ganesha is ‘offensive’ to Hindus; author must apologize.… Read the rest

Carlin Romano on Curtis White *

Nov 11th, 2003 | Filed by

We don’t need a whole book to unpack one catchy phrase.… Read the rest

Blog Check

Nov 11th, 2003 2:01 am | By

And speaking of the Interahamwe and what people listen to on the radio and how easy it is to overlook what’s not right in front of our eyes…There is a discussion going on at Crooked Timber about free speech and speech codes. For some reason I was moved to ask a question that always occurs to me in the context of such discussions, and that doesn’t seem to me to get asked enough. What do free speech absolutists say about situations like Rwanda and the Balkans where government leaders went on the radio to incite people to go out and kill or ‘cleanse’ other ethnic groups, with all too much success? So far, I’m interested to see, I haven’t had … Read the rest

Beware the Shortcut

Nov 10th, 2003 10:26 pm | By

Now by way of a holiday from bad writing, we can have a look at some good writing. David Aaronovitch is pretty reliable that way, and he’s good at that (alas all too easy) parlor game of pointing out the omissions and blind spots in some leftist rhetoric. It’s an honourable job, Orwell made a good thing of it, and certainly somebody has to do it. It’s no good leaving it all to the right, thus giving the impression that no one on the left objects to silly or ill-founded arguments. Such as this from the novelist Philip Kerr in the New Statesman:

I find it almost incomprehensible that someone from a generation who came of age during the Vietnam

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Sites of Resistance

Nov 10th, 2003 7:54 pm | By

I thought we were through with the Bad Writing subject for the moment, but now I’m not so sure. Maybe it’s one of those subjects that one is never through with – not until it goes away, at least.

A kind (and horrified) reader has sent me this delightful example. And the writer is from Norway, too! Wouldn’t you think they would know better? I have this idea (very essentialist of me, really) that Scandinavians in general and particularly Norwegians are sensible people, not the kind of people who are inexplicably impressed by Bad Writing and seized with an uncontrollable need to imitate same. Why do I think that, I wonder. I don’t know – something to do with Roald … Read the rest

What Are Universities For, Again? *

Nov 10th, 2003 | Filed by

Oh that’s right – making money!… Read the rest

The Interahamwe Didn’t Listen to Joan Baez *

Nov 10th, 2003 | Filed by

Nor did the Taliban, nor did Franco or Hitler. Blanket pacifism doesn’t always answer.… Read the rest

Socialisation is Not the Job of Teachers *

Nov 10th, 2003 | Filed by

Schools have other things to teach.… Read the rest

More Than One

Nov 9th, 2003 9:59 pm | By

I posted this report on an address by Amartya Sen a few days ago, because I admire Sen (I well remember the moment I heard over the radio that he’d won the Nobel Prize, and how surprised and delighted I was) and also because he said something I’ve been thinking and muttering about for a long time, including here.

The Emeritus Professor at Harvard tore to shreds, the theory of ‘clash of civilisations’ (championed particularly by Samuel Huntington) and which has gained much currency, describing the classification as “very crude.” According to him, “what is most immediately divisive in this kind of theorising is not the silly idea of the inevitability of a clash, but the equally shallow prior insistense

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Süddeutsche Zeitung on the Third Culture *

Nov 9th, 2003 | Filed by

The sciences and humanities ought to work together.… Read the rest

Richard Wollheim *

Nov 9th, 2003 | Filed by

The New York Times obituary.… Read the rest

We Happy Few

Nov 8th, 2003 8:17 pm | By

There is an interesting remark in this review of Terry Eagleton’s After Theory in the Telegraph. Actually there is more than one. Noel Malcolm points out that ‘Cultural Studies’ is a discipline that has some difficulties and ironies considered from a left-wing point of view:

If you open these books and try reading a page or two, you will probably notice one more thing: most of them are unreadable…These are clever people who have spent years mastering bodies of theory and styles of argument, to the point where they can produce new quantities of the same. But the overwhelming impression they give is that they are writing to impress one another, not to enlighten you or me. You do not

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Dalrymple on Furedi *

Nov 8th, 2003 | Filed by

Agrees on the whole, though he points out that therapy can be useful.… Read the rest

Right Here, That’s Where! *

Nov 8th, 2003 | Filed by

Where is the Left when you need them to criticise Postmodernism? All around, actually.… Read the rest

How Much Homework is Too Much? *

Nov 8th, 2003 | Filed by

US children aren’t doing more, their parents only think they are.… Read the rest

Strings in 11 Dimensions *

Nov 8th, 2003 | Filed by

‘Perhaps…the theory’s very unproveability means it should actually be seen as philosophy.’… Read the rest