Is it possible ... that by emphasising the less attractive aspects of modern society and culture, by repeatedly drawing attention to the deleterious social and psychological effects of welfare dependence, by criticising multiculturalism as a doctrine and as corrupt bureaucratic opportunism, I may have contributed, if only a mite, to the poisonous, paranoid, narcissistic, grandiose and resentful brew in the mind of Breivik, who took what I wrote, even if at second-hand, in completely the wrong way and drew ludicrous but murderous conclusions from it? And if I did contribute that mite, does it mean that I should now retire into guilty silence, lest there be other Breiviks in the world?
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.- Dag Hammarskjöld, born on this date in 1905
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Deeply distressed, terminally self-destructive and incomprehensibly tormented, the ne-plus-ultra-talented OneOf responsible for tunes the calibre of Stronger Than Me, Take The Box, You Know I'm No Good, Love Is a Losing Game and Back to Black ultimately proved herself incapable of either picking up the kaleidoscopic array of jagged ragged pieces or allowing the precious few around her who truly gave a damn, who did genuinely love and care for her to do something — anything — to help push her towards the kinds of care and unconditional love Winehouse so desperately craved and literally cried out to receive, to pull the emergency brake on her ever-escalating, always accelerating downward descent.
Mr. Shermer marshals an impressive array of evidence from game theory, neuroscience and evolutionary psychology. A human ancestor hears a rustle in the grass. Is it the wind or a lion? If he assumes it's the wind and the rustling turns out to be a lion, then he's not an ancestor anymore. Since early man had only a split second to make such decisions, Mr. Shermer says, we are descendants of ancestors whose "default position is to assume that all patterns are real; that is, assume that all rustles in the grass are dangerous predators and not the wind."
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I have treated many hundreds of patients. Among those in the second half of life - that is to say, over 35 - there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life.- Carl Jung, born on this date in 1875
Monday, July 25, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
I've read a fair number of books about the Second World War, but I can't remember reading one quite like Hans Keilson's Death of the Adversary.
I came to this novel by way of Francine Prose's review in The New York Times - a review which declared the book "a masterpiece" and Keilson a "genius." In the end, the novel - and its author - are as Prose suggests: masterful.
Death of the Adversary charts the experiences of an unnamed German Jew, who, by way of his written reflections, develops a complex emotional relationship with his "enemy." Like his adversary, however, the Jew is never properly identified. That is: we recognize, without having been told, that the Jew is Jewish and that his enemy is Hitler.
The fact that this information is never made explicit endows Keilson's novel with an ethereal quality - as if, at any moment, both characters might fade away. Death does not discriminate, he implies, though we wish it would.
While Adversary takes the Second World War as its subject, it is distinct, for instance, from Sebald’s Austerlitz. The darkness embedded in Keilson’s book is built on pyschological distress; it is a novel that exists in the mind and tangled thoughts of its nameless central character. Austerlitz functions in a similar fashion, it’s true, but for Sebald, that darkness is a function of plot, of action, of tortured discovery.
In the end, Death of the Adversary is a novel in search of oblivion - which is where it finds itself when Keilson concedes that beauty is as ordinary as enmity.
The last word is reserved for him:
“Enemies will never die out in this world," he writes. "They are recruited from former friends.”
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Every work of art should give utterance, or indicate, the awful blind strength and the cruelty of the creative impulse, that is why they must all have what are called errors, both of taste and style.- Christina Stead, born on this date in 1902
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Through whom flashed forth today the transaction of the healing of our nature, because, when our frailty is received by thy Word, not only does human mortality pass across to everlasting honor, but it also, by a wonderful fellowship, renders us eternal
Life... is not simply a series of exciting new ventures. The future is not always a whole new ball game. There tends to be unfinished business. One trails all sorts of things around with one, things that simply won't be got rid of.- Anita Brookner, born on this date in 1928
Friday, July 15, 2011
From the comments: "Anyone who seriously makes the claim that 'science is best left to the experts' fails to understand science (and the true nature of expertise, which must be demonstrated, not merely claimed)."
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Just as a new scientific discovery manifests something that was already latent in the order of nature, and at the same time is logically related to the total structure of the existing science, so the new poem manifests something that was already latent in the order of words.- Northrop Frye, born on this date in 1912
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
He remains so well worthy of being taken seriously as a philosopher precisely because – unlike 98.9% of other writers/philosophers - he actually does concentrate on questions of supreme importance – what is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What should we be doing about it?
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
I also try to regard The Church as a mystical institution, and not as an organization or a collection of organizations.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Every reader finds himself. The writer's work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself.- Marcel Proust, born on this date in 1871