Happiness Is Notoriously Difficult To Describe

Preface to the Paperback Edition of George Kateb’s Utopia and Its Enemies (1972, 1963). “Of course, no honest person claims that happiness is now a normal condition among human beings; but perhaps it could be made normal, and it is upon this question that all serious political controversy really turns.” “Happiness is notoriously difficult to […]

UPDATED: Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs, Oh My!

I watched American Sniper (prepping for an interview with Clint Eastwood biographer Patrick McGilligan tomorrow on Interchange) and there is a bit of “warrior philosophy” to give our hero motivation near the beginning of the film; it’s about sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. Well, this was cribbed for the movie (it’s not in Kyle’s autobiography according […]

Sierpinski Schmierpinski – On What the Writer Intends

The below is from the radio program “Bookworm” (4/11/96) with Michael Silverblatt. It is an interview with David Foster Wallace about Infinite Jest and this snippet focuses on the structure of the novel (and the novelist’s intentions). MS: Yes it does, but I wanted to suggest, at least for me, that the organization of the […]

Ellen Willis Is Essential

About a year ago there was a very dismissive review written by Lisa Levy published in the Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) of the essay collection The Essential Ellen Willis (“Irritated Critics“) . Ellen Wills is a wonderful writer who will teach you so much–especially if you’ve never heard of her; especially if you are young; especially if you […]

The Tyranny of Technological Replication

I’m never sure how I can defend a critique against technology–it seems as though we have gained so much. And whenever I rant against drones or iPads (or the very device upon which I’m pecking) someone will pipe up, “I s’pose you’d prefer we didn’t have penicillin either!” Maybe. I’m really not sure. By which […]

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The Reactive Consequence of Force: Whiplash as Cultural Critique

(Spoiler below) Will you listen? Let us first understand whiplash as a reactive consequence of force…but one that weakens with repetition. Further on Whiplash (The Dystopian Perfection of Whiplash), the movie starring J.K. Simmons (Daniel Fletcher) and Miles Teller (Andrew Neimann). I have decided it was intended to show us how the world has gone […]

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The Dystopian Perfection of Whiplash

We watched Whiplash last night. By all accounts it was an intense experience. Nerve-wracking to say the least. Perhaps triumphant in the end, but I don’t think so. Have you seen it? If not, in brief, a boy (19) who is a drummer and aspiring to be “one of the greats” is at the most […]

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Assume Forever-War: Thoughts After Viewing Wounds of Waziristan

There is some contention that in particular cases of cancer, removing tumors, often the only treatment that can extend life by reducing the burden of carrying the disease (thus reducing its effects), actually speeds metastatic action. Especially if the surgery fails to be thorough. It is as if you open a seething sack of baby […]

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It Plays You: Mingus on Electric Instruments

Selections from a Charles Mingus interview from February 1972, in Mingus Speaks, by John F. Goodman. I think it’s time that good musicians get rid of electric instruments, because a good musician can’t play an electronic instrument; it plays you. For instance, if you want to bend a note, you’ve got to push a button […]

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Break It Up But Don’t Sell It Off

It’s quite simple to say there was, at one point in England’s history, shared or common land upon which groups […]

UPDATE! Coming Up on Interchange: “Later also headache”

The title of this post comes from Naomi Baron’s Words Onscreen which will serve as the basis of an upcoming […]

Salt of the Earth

One of the benefits of living in Bloomington is that the University has built a superb, state of the art, […]

Psychic Distress in Education

The sheer JOY of talking about something you love described by Donald Hall (and called “teaching”) in the essay “Coffee […]

Reading For Clams

Reading For Clams

I like to read and write and talk about reading and writing. Anyone who knows me knows this already, duh. […]

What Else Was There?

From Donald Hall’s Essays After Eighty, “A Yeti in the District.” The next day I got back to writing. What […]