All entries by this author

Ian Buruma on the Israeli Left *

Oct 24th, 2003 | Filed by

The Left is rich and Ashkenazi, the working class is Sephardic and religious – so the left dwindles.… Read the rest

Globalisation Means Americanisation *

Oct 24th, 2003 | Filed by

Sonja Hegasy has fallen for the Enlightenment myth, Mona Abaza says.… Read the rest

Fanonian Rhetoric on Globalisation *

Oct 24th, 2003 | Filed by

The wretched of the earth like new music and clothes, just as the rich do.… Read the rest


Oct 23rd, 2003 6:55 pm | By

A few more thoughts on ‘difficulty’ and bad writing. The result of reading another introduction, this one to the anthology Critical Terms for Literary Study. Thomas McLaughlin has some interestingly symptomatic things to say.

So the very project of theory is unsettling. It brings assumptions into question…And…it does so in what is often a forbidding and arcane style. Many readers are frightened off by the difficulty of theory, which they can then dismiss as an effort to cover up in an artifically difficult style the fact that it has nothing to say…Of course theory is difficult – sometimes for compelling reasons, sometimes because of offensive self-indulgence – but simply assuming that it is all empty rhetoric ultimately keeps you

Read the rest

The Pope as an Absolute Monarch *

Oct 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

John Paul II reasserted and even amplified the doctrine of ‘Papal infallibility.’… Read the rest

Ma Teresa a Celebrity, Yes, But Not a Saint *

Oct 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

India’s Science and Rationalists’ Association held a demonstration to protest against the beatification… Read the rest

New University Subject: Underpaying Labour *

Oct 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

If administrators want to talk of truth and justice, they should talk about low wages for staff, too.… Read the rest

Vandalism Drives Scientists Out of UK *

Oct 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

Why would sub-Saharan Africa need drought-resistant plants, after all?… Read the rest

It Was Just as Bad For Me as it Was For You

Oct 22nd, 2003 7:14 pm | By

I enjoy coincidences. They make me feel like part of the Divine Plan. (That’s a joke, but actually there was a coincidence last week that made me feel tempted to go all New Agey. I resisted, though.) So it amused me a couple of days ago that I started the day reading a new collection of ‘theoretical’ articles (by which you are to understand articles written by people who once would have been called literary critics but who have now moved Up in the world) – articles of a badness, a pretension, a tortuously protracted emptiness, that has to be read to be believed, and then after I’d done that until I couldn’t stand it any more I got on … Read the rest

Terrorism for Humanity? *

Oct 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

Richard Wolin has suspicions about Ted Honderich’s acuity.… Read the rest

Buffy Yes, Philosophy No *

Oct 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

A set of pretty good essays about Buffy the Vampire-Slayer – but not about philosophy.… Read the rest

Official State Witch *

Oct 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

Good to know – there’s nonsense in Norway, too.… Read the rest

Muslims in India *

Oct 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

M J Akbar: ‘it is a myth that Islamic law is not amenable to re-interpretation.’… Read the rest

Human Nature *

Oct 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

‘Pinker and Wilson do a much more impressive job with the humanities than any humanist I know has been able to do with the sciences.’… Read the rest

When in Doubt, Beatify *

Oct 21st, 2003 | Filed by

Christopher Hitchens is not a fan of ‘Mother’ Teresa.… Read the rest

‘Stress De-briefing’ *

Oct 21st, 2003 | Filed by

Therapeutic practices should be founded on research.… Read the rest

Nature Will Have Her Little Joke *

Oct 21st, 2003 | Filed by

Organically grown milk found to have more toxins than GM milk has.… Read the rest

Denis Dutton on Bad Writing *

Oct 20th, 2003 | Filed by

From 1999, but relevant to ‘not bad, only difficult’ writing.… Read the rest

It’s Not Bad! It’s Difficult! *

Oct 20th, 2003 | Filed by

‘…a teeming mass of abysmal sentences, yearning to be coherent.’… Read the rest

Why is Rights Talk a Problem? *

Oct 20th, 2003 | Filed by

‘…people often use rights talk to avoid justifying their position. It reverses the burden of proof.’… Read the rest