An Exhaustion with Epics

stakes

I finished Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments hexalogy this week when I reached the end of City of Heavenly Fire, and I'm awfully frustrated.  This series hit the same problem a number of epic books and movies have been causing for me: I'm tired of reading another story where possible outcomes are either the death of everyone on earth (and possibly associated worlds/dimensions) or the happily ever after.  It makes it pretty darn easy to guess what the answer is going to be. Plus, … [Read more...]

In the Moral Landscape, There Still Be Dragons

Transcranial magnetic stimulation isn't a hypothetical

Sam Harris has announced the winning entry in his contest for critiques of The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values.  The winner (from a philosophy M.A. and blogger at Point of Controversy) is the obvious complaint, which seems just.  Here's an excerpt: First, your analogy between epistemic axioms and moral axioms fails. The former merely motivate scientific inquiry and frame its development, whereas the latter predetermine your science of morality’s most basic findings. … [Read more...]

Books that Love Books

books, many

I finished two novels recently, neither of which I would urgently recommend to someone, but both of which were clearly written by people in love with language, and, as I expect that describes some of my commenters, I wanted to give you all a heads up, in case you'd like to check them out at your local library.  I'm glad I read both of these, but I read a lot faster than average, so the opportunity cost of a book is low for me.  I think what I want to do most is to have coffee with the … [Read more...]

Asperger’s and the Arts

jones

Hot on the heels of that excellent NYT piece on the autistic boy whose family learned to communicate with him through Disney, there's a really wonderful essay up on Medium by Rachel Edidin on storytelling, empathy, and the difficulty of communication.  There are a lot of passages I'd be inclined to blockquote, but I'll stick to just these two: My homework this week has been to look at the very few relationships in which I feel comfortable talking about my feelings—especially negative … [Read more...]

If Only Angels Would Prevail: The Ballad of Sweeney Todd

sweeney lucy

The Pope Francis bookclub post will run on Wednesday, since the chapter seemed apropos for the beginning of Lent. In a time when Hollywood is producing gritty remakes of well nigh everything, it might be appropriate to look back at one of my favorite works on how to live in an irrevocable corrupt world.  Today, at Ethika Politika, I'm discussing the tragic love that the Demon Barber of Fleet Street still bears the Moral Law in Sweeney Todd. Bond’s Sweeney, when confronted by bloodshed, … [Read more...]

Coriolanus’s Lonely Love

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I'd never read or seen Coriolanus before a group of friends and I went out to see Tom Hiddleston as the eponymous lead in an NT Live broadcast.  During intermission, one of my friends leaned across our block of seats to say, "I've guess this is the methadone to my House of Cards addiction." In Coriolanus, the title character is a great general, but flounders when his friends try to elevate him as a Roman Consul.  His apparent arrogance and disdain for the ordinary people of Rome, who he … [Read more...]

Mercy is Not Intransitive

MercyintheCity-copy

The release of Kerry Weber's Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job is well timed for Lent.  If you're of a mind to, you could finish this slim spiritual memoir before Ash Wednesday and let it inform your choices of sacrifices. Weber, a Mercy Associate and managing editor at America magazine, decides that for Lent, she'll try to practice the seven Corporal Works of Mercy: To feed the hungry. To give drink to … [Read more...]


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