“I’m OK, You’re Dead”: I review “The Act of Killing”

at AmCon: ...This surreal documentary, which feels more like Variety Hour in Hell, began when filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer found that it was impossible to get survivors of the brutal 1965-6 anti-Communist campaign in Indonesia to describe their experiences. He settled for what he considered the next best thing: interviews with the perpetrators. And for the reason Jean-Luc Godard gives here, that turned out to be the key to making one of the most eye-opening documentaries I’ve ever seen. more … [Read more...]

“Morally Exemplary Friendships”: Wesley Hill looks for examples

at First Things: ...When I originally announced that I was working on a book about friendship, Ben Myers suggested I pick up Uncommon Friendships: An Amicable History of Modern Religious Thought by William Young. The book focuses on three pairs of friends—Franz Rosenzweig and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Emmanuel Levinas and Maurice Blanchot, and Julia Kristeva and Catherine Clément, all of whom were influential twentieth century religious thinkers—and tries to show how their particular friendships … [Read more...]

“David Foster Wallace and Samuel Taylor Coleridge Had a Lot in Common”

Helen Rittelmeyer: The biggest difference between Samuel Taylor Coleridge and David Foster Wallace is that by the time cardiomyopathy took Coleridge’s life in 1834, at the age of sixty-one, the consensus was that he had died too late. It’s not that no one engaged in rueful speculation about the masterpieces that would go unwritten, it was just that they’d done it years before, when it became clear that addiction and lack of professional discipline had made further serious literary output from Co … [Read more...]

“The Troubling Things I Learned When I Re-Reported Bob Woodward’s Book on John Belushi”: Tanner Colby

in Slate; via Jesse Walker; totally worth your time: ...Of course, John Belushi did do all of those drugs, and there’s little doubt that the drug stories Woodward uses actually happened. But he just goes around piling up these stories with no regard for what is actually relevant. Just to compare and contrast: At one point, Woodward stops the narrative cold to document a single 24-hour coke binge for the better part of eight pages. Nothing much happens in these eight pages except for Belushi g … [Read more...]

From”Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die; Cherish, Perish: A Novel by David Rakoff”

It was sadness that gripped him far more than the fear that, if facing the truth, he had maybe a year. When poetic phrases like "eyes, look your last" become true, all you want is to stay, to hold fast. A new, fierce attachment to all of this world now pierced him. It stabbed like a deity-hurled lightning bolt, lancing him, sent from above, left him giddy and tearful. It felt like young love. --more; the earlier section of this show, about Rent, is deeply satisfying. Via Ratty. … [Read more...]

As we prepare for back-to-school season

I'm reminded of this old piece I wrote, "The Survivor's-Guilt Guide to College." … [Read more...]

From “History in the Comic Mode,” a festschrift for Caroline Walker Bynum

The point of writing history is not...  somehow to cleanse ourselves, as it were, of the taint of the past--the humanist/Reformation/Enlightenment project of exposing the past as past and cordoning it off behind the fence of anachronism.  Rather, it is to allow ourselves still to be touched by the past. --Bruce Holsinger and Rachel Fulton Brown; via Millinerd … [Read more...]


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