Tag Archives: Boston Review

The Hedgehog’s Array: April 22, 2016

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“Now’s the Time,” Eric Olson
“If I were to die today, my loved ones would be grief-stricken, my son would be orphaned, and my colleagues would have to mark my students’ exams. That would be terrible for them.”

“A groundbreaking artist, Prince astonished right to the end,” Steve Smith
“There was never a time, not even a passing moment, that Prince didn’t matter.”

“Note To Self,” Elaine Blair
“To throw in our lot with the essay — to place it at the center of our literary culture — is to accept the idea of a more or less continuous self that can make its observations, emotions, interpretations, and opinions intelligible to others.”

“On the Road,” James McWilliams
“The trade-off for submitting voluntarily to the pain of a marathon—which really can be otherworldly—is the opportunity to transcend your anger, to step outside normal life and build a unique narrative out of a sanctioned act of rebellion.”

“Still Tilting at Windmills,” Stephen Phelan
“On a recent Saturday morning, I caught The Cervantes Train from Madrid’s Atocha Station. Don Quixote greeted me on the platform.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: March 4, 2016

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“Dissolving the Dead,” Graeme Bayliss
“Bio-cremation is the funeral industry–approved term for alkaline hydrolysis, a method of corpse disposal in which lye and water are heated under pressure, dissolving flesh and leaving only bone fragments and whatever surgical oddments the body contained. The process is often faster than traditional cremation and costs about the same, and the end product takes up less space than a standard burial.”

“The Pyrrhonian Skeptic,” Richard Marshall and Katja Maria Vogt
“In the end, I guess the fact that we want knowledge and find it valuable doesn’t go away, even if knowledge is elusive.”

“As a God Might Be,” Meghan O’Gieblyn
“Among the modern-day Gnostics, says Gray, are the techno-futurists who believe that technology will usher in a state of spiritual perfection and emancipate us from our mortal forms. Many have contributed to this dubious gospel, but its chief prophet is Ray Kurzweil, who for several decades has been heralding the day when technological enhancement will facilitate unlimited knowledge, transforming humanity into an immortal and essentially divine super-race.”

“1916: The funeral of the Master,” Philip Horne
“James’s niece Peggy arrived in the first week in January. Her impression, she later told Edel, was that her uncle did have lucid intervals, but that whenever he said something characteristically Jamesian such as ‘“Now I must rest from my sensibilities and discriminations,” the nurses thought he was delirious.“‘

“Both Sides, Now,” Sam Sacks
“There’s no arguing with any of this because no argument has been made in the first place. Scott positions himself on both poles of each proposition so that he’s everywhere and nowhere at once, the Schrödinger’s cat of critics.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: January 29, 2016

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“Dying Together,” Clare Coffey
“The privacy I had attributed to death, which made me feel as though only a similarly private intimacy was entitled to grief, was non-existent.”

“Our Fairy Tales Ourselves: Storytelling From East to West,” Marie Mutsuki Mockett
“Occasionally I would see something on TV that deeply captured my imagination and love, but which sent me into such a fit of tears that my mother would literally spend hours trying to console me over the injustice of a purely tragic ending while she cursed her culture for being irresponsibly sad. For in Japan, stories could be devastatingly, irredeemably wretched.”

“The 27th Letter,” Mairead Small Staid
“An editor once removed forty-four ampersands from a long poem I had written. I didn’t argue, partly because the editor had gone to such trouble, all those red andsTrack changes, as if it were that easy—and partly because I couldn’t articulate why it mattered.”

“What Went Wrong In Flint,” Anna Maria Barry-Jester
“More than a year after residents started sounding alarm bells, it’s now clear that employees at the state’s Department of Environmental Quality collected insufficient data and ignored the warning signs visible in what they did collect. In the process, they allowed the residents of Flint to be poisoned.”

“To Be and to Do,” Leland de la Durantaye
“What is yours, and how do you use it? Your body, for instance, is yours, as is the life you lead with it; but in what way, to what degree, is it subject to what restrictions? And above all how is it conditioned or curtailed by which notions of what life is, what it is for, what obligations it carries, and what tasks it may be assigned?”

Hedgehogs abroad:

”How Reagan’s ‘Touch the Face of God’ Speech after the Challenger Disaster 30 Years Ago Paved the Way for Space X,” Ned O’Gorman
“Reagan did not save NASA in the wake of the Challenger disaster.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: November 20, 2015

hedgehog array logo_FLAT_72dpi[3]Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“Art for All of Us?,” Sarah Ruden
“From my own long observation of fashionable efforts to deal with traumatic memories in post-apartheid South Africa, I have to say that the storytelling-as-therapy premise has got nothing better to recommend it than its convenience.”

“Bloom and Bust,” Phillip Longman
“Inequality, an issue politicians talked about hesitantly, if at all, a decade ago, is now a central focus of candidates in both parties. The terms of the debate, however, are about individuals and classes: the elite versus the middle, the 1 percent versus the 99 percent. That’s fair enough. But the language we currently use to describe inequality doesn’t capture the way it is manifest geographically.”

“Worlds in Waiting: The Promise of Little Magazines,” David Marcus
“In the background to all of this is the question of money.”

“Lucky Jim Bond: Inside Kingsley Amis’s Quietly Subversive 007,” David B. Hobbs
“Now, we tend to think about James Bond as biennial film appointment—another chance to sell explosions and Omega watches to 13-year-old boys, even though today’s Bond fans are typically men over 35. Fair enough. MGM estimates that over half the world has seen a Bond film. But the character was a literary ‘phenomenon’ before Sean Connery sipped his first celluloid martini.”

“Forensic Pseudoscience,” Nathan J. Robinson
“It would be unreasonable to expect any human endeavor to be completely without error, and one might wonder just how systemic the problems of forensic science truly are.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: September 18, 2015

hedgehog array logo_FLAT_72dpi[3]Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“Finding Your Way Home,” Peter Godfrey-Smith
“Dreyfus and Taylor think that philosophy constantly invents new ways to falsely intellectualize our relationship to things that we do. Philosophy itself does not subside once we see these issues clearly; philosophy has tasks beyond merely diagnosing errors.”

“The Accidental Diorama of a Novelist’s Life,” Mary Duffy
“In the face of this older, employed, nearly-tenured professional person who would probably write real things, publishable things in this chair, I suddenly worried that I would have to relinquish it, that I had done something rude.”

“What Is the Point of College?,” Kwame Anthony Appiah
“As higher education expands its reach, it’s increasingly hard to say what college is like and what college is for.”

“Speaking in Science,” Christine Mitchell
“Scientific Babel, it might be said, now confronts us on seemingly different fronts—the human and the machinic.”

“Inside The Mermaid Economy,” Elizabeth Segran
“As someone who has tracked mermaid culture for about a decade, Wolbert says that fascination with mermaids has always been there under the surface.”

“Cattle Calls,” Ted Conover
“The heartland has been emptying of large-animal vets for at least two decades, as agribusiness changed the employment picture and people left the region. Many vets simply close shop when they retire; private practice is too hard a way to make a living. Meanwhile, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has become the nation’s largest single employer of vets, most of whom work in meat and poultry plants, where they oversee not animal husbandry but slaughter.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: August 7, 2015

hedgehog array logo_FLAT_72dpi[3]Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“I’m Not Dante or Milton, but Won’t You Remember Me, Too?,” David Wheatley
“I love minor poets. Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea, Amy Levy, Charlotte Mew, Robert Fergusson, James Clarence Mangan, and Robert Garioch, are all poets I read with admiration and reverence.”

“The New Devil’s Dictionary,” T.C. Sottek
“transhumanist (n.): Someone so enamored with the misery of a natural lifespan that they wish to make it endless.”

“A Science of Literature,” Ben Merriman
“The statistics used in these works are mainly descriptive, and the faith placed in these descriptions is limited. A table or graph is treated as an object to be interpreted. In this and many other respects, distant reading remains a recognizably humanistic practice.”

“The Bully’s Pulpit,” David Graeber
“Our first instinct when we observe unprovoked aggression is either to pretend it isn’t happening or, if that becomes impossible, to equate attacker and victim, placing both under a kind of contagion, which, it is hoped, can be prevented from spreading to everybody else.”

“Big Love,” Cynthia Lewis
“I used to wonder whether Americans can pretend to analyze, act, or claim Shakespeare alongside the English. These days, however, I’m more concerned with whether love—unconditional and emptied of ego as it repeatedly emerges in these plays—can find a place among us, British, American, or otherwise. Can it even be understood, let alone valued?”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: February 20, 2015

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“Nice to Meat You,” Adam Kotsko
“A single creepy property, if strongly expressed, can give rise to the entire ensemble.”

“Why ‘The Enlightenment Project’ Is Necessary and Unending,” Todd Gitlin
Those who scorn ‘the Enlightenment project’ fail to realize how heavily they depend on the very reason they scorn or at least the reputation for reason, even as, instead of deep studies, they are encouraged to play games of citational gotcha: Pin the tail on Kant.

“Always Already Alienated,” Jon Baskin
“Lerner is the leading practitioner of the novel of detachment—an ascendant genre in contemporary American letters.”

“Where Van Gogh Learned to Paint,” William Cook
“Van Gogh’s suicide, in 1890, went entirely unreported in the Belgian press, but in the summer of 1914 six of his paintings were exhibited here in Mons, at the handsome Hôtel de Ville. The art critic from Le Hainaut didn’t think that much of them, apart from a ‘violent’ painting of some sunflowers.”

“What ISIS Really Wants,” Graeme Wood
“Our failure to appreciate the split between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and the essential differences between the two, has led to dangerous decisions.”

“Dressing Down,” Claude S. Fischer
“Our contemporary informality may depend on much tighter internal control than formality did.”

“What’s Wrong With Public Intellectuals?,” Mark Greif
“When The Chronicle Review invited me, with the spur of Partisan Review’s digital reappearance, to compare it with the ‘state of polemic’ now, in 2015, I confess my heart sank. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and it is so hard to distinguish in your own time what is temporary rubble and what is bedrock once you get the historical jackhammer whirring. Yet I do feel certain that quite common, well-intentioned arguments about ‘public writing’ and polemic now are misguided, and the university-baiting is annoying.”

And for those looking for a little more reading to do:

“Forty for 40: A Literary Reader for Lent,” Nick Ripatrazone
“This reader is intended to be literary, not theological; contemplative rather than devotional. Bookmark this page and come back each day. Save it for upcoming years. The dates will change, but the sequence of readings and reflections will stay the same: a small offering of communion that might transcend our isolation.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: January 16, 2015

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“A window on Chaucer’s cramped, scary, smelly world,” Sam Leith
“Chaucer had been skeptical of fame and authorial peacocking; and concomitantly of written transmission: his poems had been read for pleasure and amusement to a small group of friends in London. With his exile in Kent, he lost an audience; and so he channelled the companionable orality of his verse into a polyphonic anthology of stories whose audience — the pilgrims — he invented for himself. Lonely, in other words, Chaucer put the audience for his poem into the poem itself.”

“The Rhetoric of Cowardice,” Kyle Williams
“Cowardice once had something to do with the obligations of community. We used the word when courage faltered and duties were left undone. But now we rarely use or hear it outside of the politics of national security.”

“James Thurber Lost Most of His Eyesight to a Tragic Childhood Accident,” Danny Heitman
“Because of his poor eyesight, Thurber was sometimes unsure of what he was seeing in his later years, and this fuzziness of perception underscored his sense that the line between fantasy and reality could be tenuous—a feeling that rests at the heart of his stories and cartoons.”

“When I Grow Up,” Rebecca Mead
“At first glance, the experience offered by KidZania appears to draw on aspects both of symbolic play—the ‘let’s pretend’ aspect of dressing up as a fireman—and of rule-based play, with its enactment of conformity to civic regulation. But by some definitions the activities at KidZania, however entertaining, barely qualify as play at all.”

“To the Office, With Love,” Jennifer Senior
“Say what you want about the future of work, but this much is clear: The traditional compact between employers and employees is slowly fading away, and with it, a way of thinking, a way of living, a way of relating to others and regarding oneself that generally comes with a reasonably predictable professional life.”

“Hollywood Calling,” Christopher Grobe
“Tinseltown’s First Law of Telephone Scenes is about to be put to the ultimate test. There are two films eligible for an Oscar this year that are made entirely of telephone calls: Locke (2013) and The Phone Call (2013). These are obvious star vehicles for Tom Hardy and Sally Hawkins, respectively, and if either is nominated and wins, you can bet Luise’s ghost will be haunting that podium.”

“On Edgar Allan Poe,” Marilynne Robinson
“Poe’s great tales turn on guilt concealed or denied, then abruptly and shockingly exposed. He has always been reviled or celebrated for the absence of moral content in his work, despite the fact that these tales are all straightforward moral parables.”

“Imperfect Tenderness,” Tim Hodler
“Satire is an unusual art form, in that it is designed to be misunderstood.”

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