Every Black Lives Matter protest against police violence is also a protest against the misery which is inseparable from those communities that exhibit the highest levels of violent crime between black people. Like Republicanism, like Communism, like Representative Democracy, the clue is in the name: to Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter. The movement embodies the same impetus to action as that which inspired The Interrupters, a Chicago-based group poised against the same gang violence which many of its members enacted before converting to their version of urban pacifism.
Jeremy Brunger on race relations in America.
In the end, Zero K left me with a sense of vague dissatisfaction, but I think this has much more to do with the hysteria around the novel-as-event, and less to do with the book per se. The novel is a journey, and if it is frustrating, that’s actually okay because the story is about contemporary frustrations with the (mis)adventure of human progress.
By Christopher Schaberg.
People of relatively low intelligence can be morally wonderful if they desire the right and the good (not necessarily under the description “right” or “good”). Their low intelligence sometimes results in their accidentally doing something wrong, but doing something wrong out of low intelligence alone is like stepping on a person’s foot because you are (literally) blind or missing a cry for help because you are (literally) deaf. We do not judge the blind or deaf person as morally bad. This is a lot of what motivates my view that virtue is about wanting right and good things, not about being particularly good at thinking.
Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Nomy Arpaly.
Image: Billy Childish.
I’m still inclined to believe that numbers are abstract objects, but there’s been quite a bit of work recently, partly by people who know a lot more about linguistics than I do, arguing that contrary to some appearances, number-words are best understood as predicates rather than names or singular terms. Given my broadly Fregean view of the relations between syntactic and ontological categories this might be the basis of an argument for viewing numbers as properties rather than objects. I used to believe that there was a compelling argument for taking them to be (abstract) objects, but now I am not really sure about this. What seems to me far more important is not whether numbers are objects rather than properties, but whether, and in what sense, they exist.
Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Bob Hale.
“Ordinary moments make the life.” This is written on page 109 of Zero K. But It’s the abnormal moments that make up DeLillo’s fiction. A death facility in a Central Asian desert, a death facility that will become a life facility in the future, once the means and technology are available — this is the setting of Zero K. DeLillo’s fiction is an assemblage of moments that could be plucked from underground newspaper columns or whispered to you by a nervous, bedraggled man on an unfamiliar street or taken from those compartments of the internet that require a login to a private network.
By Tristan Foster.
Boyd started Straight to Hell while the Vietnam War was going on, and a number of the articles denouncing straight fascism draw a direct connection between the sexual repression of the United States and its campaign of imperialist warfare in Vietnam. Soldiers who had not been allowed to express themselves sexually at home went abroad to enforce America’s hegemony, and they ran amok. Let’s not forget that this tendency has not gone away.
Interview with We Heard You Like Books.
It is links such as this that give the book such a cumulative power. The small setting allows Bullough to overlay images upon one another. Oliver is seen often a raven, named Maureen, sitting on his shoulder, or circling the sky above his head. Of course, ravens do not live for over 60 years, but Maureen is ever-present, different birds gathered under a single name. So much in the book is contained with this image: when I now think of the novel, in its totality, I see the farm from a raven’s eye view. I see the many characters superimposed upon the landscape, and tractors and horses and land rovers furrowing tracks on the same land. The overall impression I was left with was of Funnon Farm as a ghostly intersection, with new technologies marshalling old ideas.
James Tookey reviews Tom Bullough‘s Addlands.
The story at hand is a love story, its protagonists Khosrow II, Shirin and Farhad. Though the historical detritus of the first two are scattered across the Kurdish region of Iran in the form of castles, cities and caves, it is unclear whether Farhad was also a historical figure. Khosrow first appears in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, the Book of Kings that to this day remains the national epic of Iran, but his love story is only alluded to. It was Nizami Ganjavi who expanded on Khosrow’s story with the 12th century epic poem Khosrow & Shirin, an overplotted mess of staggering lyrical beauty and dubious character motivation that is now widely considered one of the most important texts in all of the Middle East.
Agri Ismaïl on Shirin, Farhad and Khosrow.
Once we acknowledge that ‘human nature’ can include abilities, beliefs or values that have become widespread throughout our species because of learning processes, it’s clear that we will have to be rather liberal when it comes to what we include as part of human nature. Very large numbers of people can eat with chopsticks, very large numbers of people can recognize David Beckham. It’s hard to keep these traits out of ‘human nature’, while keeping imitation in.
Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Tim Lewens.
In my late teens and early twenties, I had a good friend who liked both Wittgenstein and Housman and would have been equally disappointed by the missed connection. Had he been born ten years later, he might have even posted a Craigslist ad about it. Mostly, though, we just exchanged e-mails about people with names like Scaliger, Winckelmann, and Madvig. Then we spent a few weeks in Vienna together.
D. Byron on Wittgenstein, scholarship, legacy, and toilet habits.