This Is What We Do

A few years ago, Chrysler debuted a slick commercial called “Imported from Detroit,” featuring Eminem cruising past relics of the city’s past industrial and civic glory. The voice-over, backed by the thumping guitar riff of “Lose Yourself,” praises Detroit’s gritty resilience and the unexpected luxury of Chryslers rolling out of its factories. Eminem stops his car under the marquee of a theater. He strides down its aisle toward a robed choir, turning to the close-up camera on stage with the tagli … [Read more...]

Virtue in TV

“Everybody lies.”  The FOX drama House sustained eight seasons of medical mysteries on this cynical insight alone.  And the more righteous the liars were, the more satisfying (for Dr. House, and often for the viewer) were their falls.  A classic episode pitted a rambunctious “faith healer” against the atheist misanthrope, but when the root of the young man’s illness is revealed to be the sexually-transmitted herpes virus, the doctor gets the last laugh.Law & Order: SVU is still chugging a … [Read more...]

Winter’s Humbling

Cuttings of yellow forsythia bloom on my coffee table as March threatens its last (fingers crossed) snowstorm... Finally. I confess a sigh of relief at the resurgence of sunshine, warmth and colors other than brown, gray and white. Winter's grip on the Earth is growing weak in the face of spring's insistent return, yet its bleak work has primed me for the impudent  joy of crocuses blooming beside melting snowdrifts. Like winter's firm discipline has prepared the tired earth for sprouting seeds, … [Read more...]

MASH and Murder

Mansion. Apartment. Shack. House. The kids who hoped for shacks are monks by now. Back then we knew that homeless, jobless meandering wasn’t an option. Neither were celibacy or promiscuity. You either married your crush, or the creepy kid who slobbered on the water fountain. You were a janitor, or a movie star, but you were something. You might have had zero kids, but you could just as easily have been the lucky parent of one hundred precious dolls. Impressive, women! Among the lesser questions … [Read more...]

Five Books to Read in College

This is a list of five amazing books. They come representing five noble genres: the novel, the memoir, poetry, the short story, and the essay. How good are they? This good: as I read, I often had to pause, put the book down, breathe or sigh or shake, and look around to see if the world was still there. It was – but each time, the way I viewed it had changed.This list is particular, not comprehensive. I did not assemble it from other people’s recommendations, I did not poll anybody; between th … [Read more...]

The Rule of the Clan

What should be the relationship among individualism, civil society, and state power in a healthy political order? In the Summer 2013 issue of Fare Forward, I considered this question in critiquing an essay by Rutgers Law School professor Mark Weiner. My primary critique of Prof. Weiner's essay was that he did not adequately grapple with civil society as a solution to the “paradox of individualism:”"Weiner presents an impoverished and unconvincing account of civil society, which he reduces t … [Read more...]

“Didactic Paragraph-Pomposity” and the Pursuit of Truth

In one of my first encounters with Søren Kierkegaard, I distinctively remember hearing the term “Gobbler of Paragraphs.” My professor stated that this term, originally taken from some margin notes to Fear and Trembling, would inform the way our seminar would proceed. He wanted to ensure, as we students were reading Kierkegaard’s Philosophical Fragments, that we were taking time to inwardly digest the assigned material.As we worked our way through the Fragments, Kierkegaard began to urge us to … [Read more...]