Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction

Literary Theory: An Introduction by Terry Eagleton My rating: 3 of 5 stars Strange the books one fails to read. The very fact that you are supposed to have read certain books makes you feel like you have already read them long before you read them, so you do not in fact ever read them.… Continue reading Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction

Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others

Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag My rating: 3 of 5 stars Susan Sontag's oeuvre is a long palinode. Identified for years with the positions she took, or at least appeared to take, in the 1960s, she seemed to spend the rest of her life strategically retracting or at least clarifying and qualifying… Continue reading Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others

Nicholas Mirzoeff, How to See the World

How to See the World: An Introduction to Images, from Self-Portraits to Selfies, Maps to Movies, and More by Nicholas Mirzoeff My rating: 3 of 5 stars Mirzoeff self-consciously updates the late John Berger's Ways of Seeing with a new piece of popular Marxist pedagogy on how to read politics and history into images and… Continue reading Nicholas Mirzoeff, How to See the World

Alan Moore, Miracleman

Miracleman, Book Three: Olympus by Alan Moore My rating: 4 of 5 stars In the 1980s, Alan Moore, the most celebrated writer in the history of mainstream Anglophone comics, made his name by telling the same story four times. In Miracleman, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, and Watchmen, a commanding male figure, superior of intellect… Continue reading Alan Moore, Miracleman

Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters

The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters by Frances Stonor Saunders My rating: 4 of 5 stars Someone once said that beneath or behind all political and cultural warfare lies a struggle between secret societies. —Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo (1972) This 1999 book by British journalist Saunders is the… Continue reading Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters

Richard Rorty, Achieving Our Country

Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America by Richard M. Rorty My rating: 2 of 5 stars Richard Rorty is a Pragmatist philosopher: he believes that ideas and actions should be judged on their effects rather than their metaphysical or ontological status. Don't ask whether it's true, whatever "it" may be, ask only if… Continue reading Richard Rorty, Achieving Our Country

Grant Morrison, The Invisibles

The Invisibles by Grant Morrison My rating: 4 of 5 stars This will be a pitch. You should read The Invisibles. Certainly those of you who have been reading some of the other things I write about here: not only Alan Moore, but also Herman Melville, James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, and Grant's alt-universe… Continue reading Grant Morrison, The Invisibles

Against Intellectual Biblioclasm

[This is an expansion of a brief response I posted yesterday to Tumblr in reply to user macrolit, who, upon being denounced for sharing a quote from Simone de Beauvoir even though she and Jean-Paul Sartre seem to have sexually exploited young women, wondered: I’ve already mentioned de Beauvoir and Sartre, but what about William… Continue reading Against Intellectual Biblioclasm

Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels

The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels My rating: 4 of 5 stars In this 1979 classic of popular non-fiction, religious scholar Elaine Pagels explains to a broad audience the theological significance of the trove of early Christian writings discovered at Nag Hammadi in 1945. Not only that, but she also places these documents in their… Continue reading Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels

Why Speech Is Not Violence

Psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett has written an article for the New York Times entitled "When Speech Is Violence." It begins: Imagine that a bully threatens to punch you in the face. A week later, he walks up to you and breaks your nose with his fist. Which is more harmful: the punch or the threat?… Continue reading Why Speech Is Not Violence