I Revisit Saul Bellow’s “Ravelstein,” A 2000 Novel About Love and Tenderness–And the Coming Crackup of the GOP

here you go: Ravelstein, Saul Bellow’s roman à clef about the last years of philosopher-provocateur Allan Bloom, may be the best post-9/11 novel published in the year 2000.Ravelstein has as many virtues as its subject has grabby, endearing vices. It’s a subtle portrayal of the blurred boundaries between eros, philia, paternal, and filial love. It calls attention to its own provisional nature: “I may return to this subject later,” the narrator says, but “I probably won’t.” It’s a loving portr … [Read more...]

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“Till Pregnant Women Have Faces”: Melinda Selmys

lays it down:I’ve been having lots of weird, really vibrant dreams (I usually don’t dream or don’t remember my dreams or they’re really dull.) The latest was that I was going to make a birth pilgrimage where I would be walking in silence across country to the place where I would give birth. My face was going to be veiled because in the dream women’s faces become plasticized and cartoonish during pregnancy. I was walking with a woman who I was supposed to pretend was my grandmother, even thoug … [Read more...]

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Leah Libresco’s Superpower Is Provoking Decent Comments Boxers

I mean the interview itself is really neat, but check out the comments! The big question I was worried atheism wasn’t going to handle was how I had access to moral law. If eyes respond to light, ears to sound, etc, what is it that conscience responds to? I didn’t think the answer was “nothing in particular” or “cultural norms, which are themselves arbitrary” or something like that. I’d been a moral realist for a long time, thinking of it as being something like math: transcendent, true, beautifu … [Read more...]

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Seven Quick Takes… Almost Friday

Yo. Let's see if this is actually seven or not!"Bullying Prevention Programs May Have Negative Impact." To me the key thing here is the recommendation to focus on "systemic change within the schools," rather than turning bullying into a Thing which you've set aside and spotlit. If you're instilling students with respect for one another and for the teachers, and if teachers and other authority figures aren't tacitly approving of bullying, you are a lot less likely to get to the point where … [Read more...]

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Our Frank and Open/Deep Complications

They get me nowhere, they just bring me down so.... Alan Jacobs is right about the academic (and not only academic) fetish for "complicating" issues: ...I think there are a couple of major reasons for this particular habit, which Jacoby rightly identifies as an excessively common one. First, this is one of the few tendencies of academic writing and speaking that has its roots in teaching. Students are forever wanting to offer simple, straightforward answers to difficult questions, presumably so … [Read more...]

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#lifehacks

View the self as a challenge to be met, not a problem to be solved. (Or, for that matter, a threat to be avoided!) … [Read more...]

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“Beyond Critical Thinking”: me at AmCon

in my continuing quest to become entirely a self-parody: Critical thinking has so thoroughly colonized our idea of education that we tend to think it’s the only kind of thinking. Tests try to measure it, and ritzy private schools all claim to teach it. Critical thinking—analysis, not mere acceptance—is a skill we can all learn. And we’ve learned it too well. We’ve learned only critical thinking skills, and not the equally challenging skills of prudent acceptance: We don’t even realize that we ne … [Read more...]

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