Tag Archives: The Spectator

The Hedgehog’s Array: April 8, 2016

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“In Defence of Minor Poets,” Stephen Burt
“Not all the stars shine equally; not all the stars are visible all the time (there are some you can’t see from the Northern Hemisphere), and not all are equally important to young astronomers’ sense of the sky. But they are there; they are numerous, too.”

“Freedom and Intellectual Life,” Zena Hitz
“The image of the intellect as a refuge from the world is rare nowadays, but its history is distinguished.”

“The Imaginary Suicide of Mrs. Darling,” Elyse Byrnes
“The point is, yes—the Little Mermaid stabs herself in the heart after the prince marries someone else. Why would you read a child this story? Two reasons: one, because life is hard and the earlier they learn that the better for them. Two, because life is hard and the earlier you learn that the better for you.”

“Can an Outsider Ever Truly Become Amish?,” Kelsey Osgood
“The wishful Amish have dedicated internet forums (ironically) on which they write with the feverishness of the unrequited lover about their long-held desire to get close to the aloof objects of their spiritual desire.”

“What I’ve learned reciting poems in the street,” Gary Dexter
“No. 2 was Tennyson’s ‘Lady of Shalott.’ That can’t be right. Only one person has ever asked me for ‘The Lady of Shalott.’”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: March 10, 2016

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“Fair Usage,” Elisa Gabbert
“Descriptivism can quickly succumb to its own kind of smugness; it forms its own set of shibboleths and rules.”

“A bookseller’s guide to book thieves,” Emily Rhodes
“Stealing books is not, I think, wholly bad.”

“Everybody Freeze!,” Corey Pein 
“Thanks to all this high-profile backing, a true transhuman miracle has occurred: Alcor, a preposterous operation built on the unethical sale of false hope, remains in business.”

“A Century of Fakers,” Sasha Chapin
“It’s hard to know what to do with the fact that you can buy shoes studded with over four hundred diamonds in a world where hundreds of thousands of people are dying of diarrhea.”

“‘The less I can see, of the world, the more I can focus,” Susie Steiner
“Someone once told me, at great length, how losing his sight would be the absolute worst thing he could imagine. He’s dead now. There really are worse things.”

Hedgehogs abroad:

“Between the Hipsters and the Hasids,” Matthew Schmitz
“Starry-eyed longing for a binding community can become yet another way of surrendering to this world. Rather than living and working where we are, we dream of where else we might be.”

“The Counter-Desecration Phrasebook,” Alan Jacobs
“It is language, McFarlane reminds us—as we are constantly reminded by the writers who attend to place—that builds the vital bridge between the mountains out there and the mountains of the mind.”

“What’s Pro-Life About an AR-15?,” James Mumford
“Just because you’re free to do something doesn’t mean you should do it.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: May 29, 2015

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“ A Plea for Culinary Modernism,” Rachel Laudan
“As an historian I cannot accept the account of the past implied by Culinary Luddism, a past sharply divided between good and bad, between the sunny rural days of yore and the gray industrial present.”

“In Europe, Fake Jobs Can Have Real Benefits,” Liz Alderman
“Inside virtual companies, workers rotate through payroll, accounting, advertising and other departments. They also receive virtual salaries to spend within the make-believe economy.”

“What are modern museums really for?,” William Cook
“Dunham Massey’s success shows there’s no need to bore the punters with the whole story. Visitors can find that online. Instead, museums need to find something, anything, no matter how small or incidental, that people can connect with.”

“Corpse Brides and Ghost Grooms: A Guide to Marrying the Dead,” Ella Morton
“So you want to marry a ghost.”

“Training Young Doctors: The Current Crisis,” Lara Goitein
“In the 1890s, Sir William Osler, now regarded as something of a demigod in American medicine, created at the Johns Hopkins Hospital a novel system for training physicians after graduation from medical school. It required young physicians to reside in the hospital full-time without pay, sometimes for years, to learn how to care for patients under the close supervision of senior physicians.”

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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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