Tag Archives: The New Yorker

The Hedgehog’s Array: May 20, 2016

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Noteworthy reads from the past (few) week(s):

“The Delightful Language of Commencement”
“Do these speakers, from such disparate backgrounds, have anything in common when it comes to giving advice to youth (or the confused at heart)?”

“Living Things,” Sarah Marshall
“More than evil, more then fury, more than any dark force beyond the human, Jeffrey Dahmer’s life seems to have been marked by an unbearable loneliness.”

“Expert Textpert,” James Ley
“A frank exchange of views ensued, during which it transpired that our dining companion held eminently practical opinions on all manner of topics. These included a general disdain for the various academic disciplines that fall under the rubric ‘humanities’, an unshakeable belief in the virtues of trickle-down economics, and a strong disinclination to educate poor people.”

“Sexual Freelancing in the Gig Economy,” Moira Weigel
“If you want to understand why ‘Netflix and chill’ has replaced dinner and a movie, you need to look at how people work. Today, people are constantly told that we must be flexible and adaptable in order to succeed. Is it surprising that these values are reshaping how many of us approach sex and love?”

“‘Writing Is an Act of Pride’: A Conversation with Elena Ferrante”
“And I’m talking about the past, about what we generally call tradition; I’m talking about all those others who were once in the world and who have acted or who now act through us. Our entire body, like it or not, enacts a stunning resurrection of the dead just as we advance toward our own death. We are, as you say, interconnected.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: February 20, 2016

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“Where do Morals Come From?,” Philip Gorski
“The social sciences have an ethics problem.”

“The Hunger Artist,” Bee Wilson
“Many authors whisper, as though to a diary, or chat, as though to a friend, but Fisher communicates with the heady directness of a lover. She writes to confide her secret delights and to impress someone with her mastery of the table.”

“There’s Not Always a Pill for That,” Jen Bannan
“If you talk to literature professors, you may have heard them wonder aloud at the tendency of their students to diagnose characters. Anna Karenina clearly has borderline personality disorder, Holden Caulfield seems to have been abused as a child, Raymond Carver’s characters wouldn’t have these problems if they’d just go to AA.”

“Harper Lee—A Life in Pictures”
“Nelle Harper Lee, loved around the world for the Pulitzer prize-winning book To Kill A Mockingbird, has died aged 89.”

“Looking for Beauty in the Age of Design,” Alexandra Schwartz
“If there’s something post-apocalyptic about the notion of making a crushed plastic water bottle into a home, there’s an optimism to it, too.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array—November 6, 2015

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“Humans of New York and the Cavalier Consumption of Others,” Vinson Cunningham
“HONY joins organizations like TED and the Moth at the vanguard of a slow but certain lexical refashioning. Once an arrangement of events, real or invented, organized with the intent of placing a dagger—artistic, intellectual, moral—between the ribs of a listener or reader, a story has lately become a glossier, less thrilling thing: a burst of pathos, a revelation without a veil to pull away.”

“Satan in Poughkeepsie,” Alex Mar
“Satanists make use of ritual—not in a spiritual way, but as psychodrama, a way to use taboos to get their adrenaline flowing.”

“Ghosts Stay Near Home,” Thomas W. Laqueur
“Charles Darwin wanted to be buried in his village churchyard, and the dean of Westminster Abbey would have been just as happy if he had had his wish. But he did not. The world of science needed him in the Abbey.”

”Buster Keaton’s Cure,” Charlie Fox
“Here he is, a little man in his trademark outfit of porkpie hat and rumpled suit. He ignores all conversational prompts, playing dumb and nodding a little as if out of beat with the situation, mid-daydream. ”

“Pilgrimages to Paris,” Victoria Olsen 
“On my last day in Paris I stopped in Père Lachaise, the famous cemetery — or rather, the cemetery for famous people. I was looking for someone, though I wasn’t sure what seeing her tombstone was going to do for me.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: October 16, 2015

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

“The New Guilded Age,” Nathan Schneider
“After some years engaged in varied forms of entrepreneurship, they were trying to figure out what forms of organization would best suit their peers’ shifting working conditions. Neither unions nor chambers of commerce seemed suited to a generation that increasingly can’t count on having a fixed place of work. The Reverend Leng Lim, a minister and executive coach who lives across the street from the nuns, suggested that Chavez and his compatriots consider looking into guilds.”

“Raiders of the Lost Web,” Adrienne LaFrance
“You can’t count on the web, okay? It’s unstable. You have to know this.”

“Danny Meyer Is Eliminating All Tipping at His Restaurants,” Ryan Sutton
“In an ideal world, eliminating tipping would be an easy matter of moving money from one bucket to another, with restaurants simply having to raise menu prices by 15 to 20 percent to make up for what patrons would have left as a gratuity.”

“Richard Spruce and the Trials of Victorian Bryology,” Elaine Ayers
“Mosses and hepatics, in the nineteenth century as now, were—perhaps unsurprisingly—relatively unpopular plants.”

“Fashioning Normal,” Esmé Weijun Wang“My talk for the clinic is one that I adjust for a variety of audiences: students, patients, doctors. It begins with this line: ‘It was winter in my sophomore year at a prestigious university.’ That phrase, prestigious university, is there to underscore my kempt hair, the silk dress, my makeup, the dignified shoes.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: May 22, 2015

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“Monkey Day Care,” Michelle Dean
“As a toddler in 1981 and 1982, I attended a day care with monkeys. Or, perhaps more precisely, I was part of a study in the form of a day care that involved monkeys. I was two, then three. I remember nothing.”

“The Joy of Slow Computing,” Nathan Schneider
“There is a habit in tech culture of saying that the latest app ‘democratizing’ whatever it happens to do. This is lovely, but best not to confuse it with actual democracy.”

“The Inexplicable,” Karl Ove Knausgaard
“In many ways, I find it repellent to write about Anders Behring Breivik. Every time his name appears in public, he gets what he wants, and becomes who he wants, while those whom he murdered, at whose expense he asserted himself, lost not only their lives but also their names—we remember his name, but they have become numbers.”

“A Brief History of Spacefarers,” Margaret Lazarus Dean
“Stories about astronauts are stories about risks. It is precisely the risks they take that make us admire them, that makes the wonders they encounter so wondrous.”

“Google, Why Won’t You Let Me Forget My Divorce?,” Christopher Null
“I asked a friend who was a former Googler for advice, and much to my surprise he said that he actually knew a guy who worked on that very product. An insider would surely be able to fix this with a few taps of the keyboard, right? Wrong.”

Hedgehogs abroad:

“Virtual Reality as Moral Ideal,” Matthew B. Crawford
“In the old Mickey Mouse cartoons from the early and middle decades of the twentieth century, by far the most prominent source of hilarity is the capacity of material stuff to generate frustration, or rather demonic violence.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: April 10, 2015

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“The Assistant Economy,” Francesca Mari
“Nothing becomes an assistant so much as leaving his or her job. ‘The worst thing to be called,’ Aronofsky’s assistant told me, long after he’d moved on, ‘is a really good assistant.’”

“What Part of ‘No, Totally’ Don’t You Understand?,” Kathryn Schulz
“For the most part, this enthusiastic ‘no’ has very little negative meaning, or really much semantic content at all. It is more like verbal punctuation—like the initial, upside-down exclamation mark in Spanish that alerts you to impending excitement: ¡Totally!”

“Il n’y a pas d’Israël pour moi,” Jerry White
“That is, basically, the limits of François’s moral imagination; he can find nothing between the dead culture of fascism and the undead culture of consumerism. It doesn’t take long for the reader of Soumission to conclude that this is also more or less the limit of Houellebecq’s ability to imagine the complexity of modern life.”

“The Nearest Thing To Life,” James Wood
“I find that my memory is always yeasting up, turning one-minute moments into loafing, ten-minute reveries. Displacement also adds its own difficulties. I sometimes feel, for instance, that I grew up not in the 1970s and 80s but in the 1870s and 80s.”

“Having Fun,” Ben Jackson
“Does anyone remember ‘dog shit girl’? In 2005, her dog defecated on the subway in South Korea and she refused to pick it up. Her fellow passengers offered her tissues but she got aggressive and used the tissues to wipe the dog. Outraged people took photos; within hours they were all over the web. Soon her name, age, university and other personal information were posted online.”

“Can Matthew Crawford Deliver Us From Distraction?,” Michael S. Roth
“Matthew B. Crawford burst upon the scene in 2009 with a compact, powerful book, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work (Penguin), a macho denunciation of the contemporary world of cubicle life and an ode to the joys of mechanical dexterity and productivity.”

Hedgehogs abroad:

“Pluralism Doesn’t Mean Relativism,” John Inazu
“The pointed commentary surrounding the Indiana law is a recent reminder that we lack agreement about the purpose of our country, the nature of the common good, the meaning of human flourishing.”

“Six Centuries of Prints,” Leann Davis Alspaugh
“Since Renaissance humanism first made it acceptable—even imperative—for artists to draw attention to themselves, creative types have complied and produced many forms of what curator James Clifton calls ‘ego-documents.’”

“In Defense of Specialization,” Chad Wellmon (paywalled)
“To judge from the jeremiads of some of academe’s elite scolds, the specialized scholar is an anachronism. Disciplinarity is dead. Or it should be.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: February 13, 2015

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“AA Envy,” Helen Andrews
“Why this special treatment for twelve-step programs? Because all the other moral languages in which modern Americans are fluent, the languages that sound so inspiring and correct when talking about politics, turn useless in the face of addiction.”

“One Wine, Two Wine, Red Wine, Blue Wine,” Damion Searls
“The most well-known color-translation problem is Homer’s ‘wine-dark sea’—the sea rarely being, of course, what we would call the color of wine of any color.”

“A Place of Pasts,” Joseph Mitchell
“In the fall of 1968, without at first realizing what was happening to me, I began living in the past. These days, when I reflect on this and add up the years that have gone by, I can hardly believe it: I have been living in the past for over twenty years—living mostly in the past, I should say, or living in the past as much as possible.”

“Iammmmyookkraaanian,” Peter Pomerantsev
“After decades in Moscow with its aestheticised cynicism and London with its apolitical resignation, Kiev’s uprush of utopias was refreshing, and occasionally disturbing. Soon I found myself sitting in cafés scribbling my own pet utopia: Ukraine as a Russia 2.0.”

“A Clever Collection,” Matthew Walther
“We hit astonished, indeed open-mouthed, upon the truth, namely that the teenaged Austen was already a prudent, wise, humble person trying to make sense of a world full of boorishness and stupidity.”

“Your Snitching Gadgets,” Jacob Silverman
“Always-on data collection, combined with porous privacy policies and insecure devices, are changing our expectations for security and privacy. What matters now is not just what our devices and apps collect but also why, for whom, when, and how.”

“Why Max Weber Matters,” Duncan Kelly
“For those who hold fixed ideas about Weber the political animal, Ghosh’s claims will be hard reading. But part of the problem with seeing him as a straightforward nationalist was that even incandescent rage about national shame was allied to a profound understanding of geopolitics and political responsibility.”

Hedgehogs abroad:

“Cézanne and the Modern,” Leann Davis Alspaugh
“Henry Pearlman liked to say that every time he saw his art collection, it gave him a lift. We should all be so lucky.”

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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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