“not to waver with the wavering hours”

I’ve just been teaching Horace’s Epistles, and it strikes me that Horace ought to be the man of our social-media moment — the man who shows us another and better way. In the first of those Epistles, Horace writes to his patron Maecenas — the one who bought him his Sabine farm that allows him to escape the...

propaganda and social media

Reading Ellul on the massive and pervasive consequences of propaganda in the twentieth century, I found myself over and over again thinking: This is how social media work on us. For instance, that passage I quoted in my earlier post — “to the same extent that he lives on the surface of events and makes...

"a revisionist blizzard of alternative theories"

Tim Adams on the media in Putin’s Russia: In this culture war, disinformation was critical. Russian TV and social media would create a climate in which news became entertainment, and nothing would quite seem factual. This surreal shift is well documented, but Snyder’s forensic examination of, for example, the news cycle that followed...

Edmund Wilson on Marxism

I have just re-read, for the first time in decades, Edmund Wilson’s To the Finland Station — which, it appears, NYRB Classics has allowed to go out of print, which is nearly a tragedy. It is a truly remarkable book — it is difficult to imagine anyone of our own time (least of all a journalist) handling ideas with such...

r beny

I think I first came across the music of Austin Cairns (AKA r beny) on Soundcloud, where he has a page you should check out, but he also posts some things just to YouTube, of which the piece above is a superb example. It has a quality that I especially prize in ambient music, which is that it rewards just as little or as much attention...

empire and critique

Many years ago I wrote an essay on the great Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe in which I looked at what I believed to be a neglected element of his novels: their critique of the Igbo society they describe.  One of the most-quoted passages in his work comes from his autobiographical essay, “Named for Victoria, Queen of England,”...

Freedom

I’m quite late to this party, but I recently started using Freedom and I really like it. What led me to it was my realization that, while I have deleted my social-media apps from my phone, I could still access those accounts via the phone’s browser. And once I realized that I could do that … well, this is where Freedom comes in,...

sad compatibilism

Sohrab Amari writes in Commentary about two kinds of Christian response to the dominant liberal order, the compatibilists and the non-compatibilists:   The “compatibilists” (like yours truly) argued that liberalism’s foundational guarantees of freedom of speech, conscience, and association sufficed to protect Christianity...

metaphors we fail to think by

Dan Chiasson on Emily Wilson’s Twitter feed: The conversation spiralled out to other words in the passage, other choices, with Wilson returning to a line she’s used before: “Homeric Greek is a mix of dialects from different ages.” It was a striking invocation of an earlier era’s most resplendent verbal technology, the Odyssey...

a Chinese model for American education?

I am somewhat puzzled by this essay on American and Chinese university students by Michael S. Roth, the president of Wesleyan University. Not by all of it, mind you — some of it is easy to understand, for instance this:  In America, we often read about social justice warriors refusing to listen to points of view from outside the...

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