Sunday, February 16, 2014

Commonplace Book: Why Philosophers Don't Succeed in Business and Politics

For [Viscount Halifax] always saw passing events, not in the point of view in which they commonly appear to one who bears a part in them, but in the point of view in which, after the lapse of many years, they appear to the philosophic historian. With such a turn of mind he could not long continue to act cordially with any body of men.

Thomas Babington Macaulay, The History of England 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Finds: February 8, 2014

At the terrific New Books Network, which offers substantial audio interviews with the authors of new books of intellectual interest, a talk with Karen G. Weiss about her Party School: Crime, Campus, and Community:

This is such an inportant topic, and Professor Weiss speaks about it so engagingly, that one would hope that the book would come in for extensive media attention, but a Google search doesn't suggest that it has.

At Amazon, Craig Brandon offers an insightful comment:

Faculty, college administrators, students and people who live around these schools should do themselves a favor and read this well-researched, no holds barred account. Weiss teaches at West Virginia University and the school she writes about is called Party University. Is there a connection? Weiss lays the cards out on the table. Kids go to these schools to party and don't really care if they learn anything or not. And college administrators are aware of this and use it in their promotion materials. If you want to have the time of your life, they say, this is the place!

Students who come to the Party School to study are questioned by the 16 percent of students who are "extreme partiers" with the question: You knew this was a party school. If you didn't want to party, why did you come here? Good question. The non-partiers and residents who live near the party schools pay a heavy price. These 16 percent come to class as infrequently as possible.

Using quotes from student surveys, Weiss described the problem in the students' own words. Very revealing and actually pretty scary when you understand these students are signing for loans in the $28,000 for this party, an amount they will be paying for decades, mortgaging their future to pay for a few years of fun.

An important work, not to be missed!

Matthew Walther, "Tory Nihilist," on the British historian Maurice Cowling (1926-2005), at The American Conservative:

I love profiles like this. Although Cowling sounds like an old fart, there is always something irresistibly appealing to me about figures who hold a minor place in intellectual history and who wrote huge books such as Cowling's three-volume Religion and Public Doctrine in Modern England. Naturally I want to read those books, although there is always a question of finding the time to do it, and in some cases of getting one's hands on the texts. None of the three volumes of Cowlin's magnum opus is available through Amazon, new or used, for less than $49.44.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Finds: February 6, 2014

Martin Schneider, "The Hilariously Deadpan TV Commercials of Chris Burden" at Dangerous Minds:

A must for anyone interested in conceptual art of the Seventies. I did not know about these commercials; like most people, I am mainly aware of Chris Burden for his life-threatening art projects, like having himself shot at close range, or crucified on the hood of a Volkswagen.
RIP French ballet dancer Jean Babilee (1823-2014):

To the world of ballet he became legendary above all as the original protagonist of a vivid ballet-drama of 1946, Roland Petit’s Le Jeune homme et la mort, which has drawn the world’s greatest male dancers to it ever since. Wearing dungarees rather than a princely jerkin, Babilée played a moody young painter who is visited in his garret by a mysterious woman, and seduced by her into hanging himself...In the first-night enactment of the suicide, which was somewhat experimentally staged, Babilée had to find the strength to dangle on the noose for a full minute in public view. Later he confessed that it terrified him, as he felt himself choking. The death position and scenery were then adapted for a safer outcome.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Emerson Describes 2014

Amidst the downward tendency and proneness of things, when every voice is raised for a new road or another statue, or a subscription of stock, for an improvement in dress, or in dentistry, for a new house or a larger business, for a political party, or the division of an estate - will you not tolerate one or two solitary voices in the land, speaking for thoughts and principles not marketable and perishable?

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Transcendentalist" (1841)

One is reminded of Nietzsche's moving comment that he could scarcely begin to speak of Emerson because his words are "too close to me."

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Finds: February 2, 2014

How could you not love the fact that the website of Radio Bulgaria runs a series of English-language blog posts called Intense Literature? This particular entry focuses on three important poets who were dead by age 30 - Dimcho Debelyanov, Hristo Smirnenski, Geo Milev. Nor are they the only early casualties in Bulgarian literature - one could add Hristo Botev (28), Peyo Yavorov (37), Petko Todorov (37), Nikola Vaptsarov (32). It's not just intense being a gifted Bulgarian writer - apparently, it's lethal!