That is So! That is So!
February 22, 2012
The Sense of an Ending By Julian Barnes (Knopf, 163 pp., $23.95) Is it worth it? Life, I mean—is it worth it? Julian Barnes isn’t sure. “I am certainly melancholic myself,” he says in Nothing to Be Frightened Of, a memoir-cum-meditation-on-death, “and sometimes find life an overrated way of passing the time.” Martha Cochrane, in England, England, thinks about “the thinness of life, or at least life as she had known it, or chosen it.” “She had done little in her time,” Jean Serjeant thinks in Staring at the Sun, and Gregory, her son, had done less.
No Book Will Fix What’s Wrong With American Parenting
February 22, 2012
The other day, a friend and I were walking down a crowded sidewalk when we noticed a little boy of about three. We noticed him not because he was adorable (though he was), but because he was hitting his father with a giant stick. As they passed us—the boy hitting, the father ignoring—the boy’s flailing stick hit my companion. Only the boy’s mother, running after them, seemed to notice. “Sorry,” she flung out breathlessly, smiling. We were, of course, in Brooklyn, the epicenter of permissive parenting.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Nudes and Others
February 08, 2012
Crazy Horse Return The Hunter Where is Frederick Wiseman taking us now? Beginning in 1967, when our pre-eminent maker of documentaries brought us into a hospital for the criminally insane in Titicut Follies, Wiseman has shown us American lives in—among many other places—high schools, a hospital, a monastery, a welfare agency. Lately he has been drawn to France, to some Parisian institutions: the Comédie-Française and the ballet of the Paris Opera.
February 08, 2012
The city of Tawargha is the only Libyan coastal town completely populated by blacks, the descendants of the slaves who were once trafficked through the Islamic world. Libya’s blacks have long endured discrimination, but, during the revolution that swept Muammar Qaddafi from power, the residents of Tawargha acquired a new unpopularity—because they fought on the side of the fallen leader. Tawargha is about 15 miles from the rebel stronghold of Misrata, whose residents claim Tawarghans helped Qaddafi’s forces in an eleven-week siege against their city.
A Requiem to an Age of Brilliant Polish Poetry
February 08, 2012
Poland in the postwar era was a supremely unlucky nation, but in one respect (and perhaps one only) it was among the world’s luckiest. This unassuming country, generally admired not for its scenery nor its cuisine nor its architecture, produced three of the greatest European poets of the last half-century. The first was Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004), born in Lithuania to a Polish family, who defected to France in 1951 and emigrated to the United States in 1960; he was Poland’s geopolitical poet, befitting his perch in exile, and its first poet Nobelist.
I Love The Smell Of Croissants In The Morning
February 07, 2012
The liberal media conspiracy must have had a secret meeting on the cafe car of the Acela sometime in the past week or so, because there’s been a sudden flurry of pieces revisiting the matter of Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith and urging him, in one form or another, to be more open about it.
The Iranian film A Separation, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, seems to me the best film of 2011. It is one of the Academy Award nominees for Best Foreign Picture, but by any sense of justice in any nation (let alone the self-assessed greatest in the world) it would have been nominated for Best Picture before anything else. The ways in which the characters in A Separation struggle for truth and honor, while yielding sometimes to compromise and falsehood, is not foreign to us. Few other films made last year give such a striking sense of, “Look—isn’t this life?
We Have A Winner!
February 03, 2012
Well, Mitt Romney may not have much competition in the Nevada caucuses, but he’s got rivals galore in the business of producing gaffes that manage to be aggravating to both left and right, as his “not concerned about the very poor” riff was. The Stump put out the call for gaffes of Romneyesque bipolar irritation, and the readers responded in force. If Mitt’s well ever runs dry, he will know where to turn for material. So, without further ado, the winner and runners up of the First Stump Contest of the 2012 campaign.
Meet the Gun-Toting, Teetotaling, Jet-Skiing Russian Billionaire Running Against Putin
December 15, 2011
In the wake of rising dissatisfaction with Vladimir Putin and protests against irregularities in Russia’s recent parliamentary elections, Mikhail Prokhorov’s decision to run for president was greeted with a lot of excitement. But, soon enough, paranoia set in: Is he a freedom-loving democrat, an opportunist, or just another Putin stooge? While the jury is still out on that question, one thing is clear enough: He’s incredibly rich, and perhaps like most über-wealthy individuals, he’s cultivated quite a few … eccentricities. Here are just a few that stand out. 1.
What Hope Remains?
December 14, 2011
An Awareness of What is Missing: Faith and Reason in a Post-Secular Age By Jürgen Habermas (Polity Press, 87 pp., $14.95) The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere By Judith Butler, Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, and Cornel West Edited by Eduardo Mendieta and Jonathan VanAntwerpen (Columbia University Press, 137 pp., $19.50) On October 14, 2001, the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas stepped up to the lectern at the Paulskirche in Frankfurt to deliver a short address called “Faith and Knowledge.” The occasion was his acceptance speech of the Peace Prize, a yearly honor that the German Book