Waggish

David Auerbach on literature, philosophy, film, etc.

People often forget Mary Garth in George Eliot's Middlemarch. She is the third heroine of the book, not as idealistic as Dorothea and not as shallow as Rosamond, but wittier and probably smarter than both. Much of the critical work on Middlemarch barely mentions her.

Middlemarch and Mary Garth

People often forget Mary Garth in George Eliot’s Middlemarch. She is the third heroine of the book, not as idealistic as Dorothea and not as shallow as Rosamond, but wittier and probably smarter than both. Much of the critical work on Middlemarch barely mentions her.

Jul, 23 · in Essays

The Binding of Isaac and the Binding of Symbols

In The Stupidity of Computers, I discussed how computers require rigidly defined ontologies, which are then enforced on us. What happens in the collision between slippery life and a fixed ontology? Here is a case […]

Jul, 17 · in Essays

Jacob Burckhardt on Amateurism

When it comes to scholarship and criticism, I prefer Jacob Burckhardt’s amateur/specialist dichotomy to Isaiah Berlin’s fox and hedgehog: The word ‘amateur’ owes its evil reputation to the arts. An artist must be a master […]

Jul, 13

Jan Assmann on Auschwitz and Guilt

I don’t study ethics much because there is already such a high bar in reaching a minimal level of human decency, so slicing and dicing moral principles feels like buying a fuzzy sweater for a […]

Jul, 03

Novalis: Monologue

The excellent piece on Novalis in this week’s TLS quoted a bit of his brilliant Monolog, and it’s short enough I figured I’d just post the whole thing here: Speaking and writing is a crazy […]

Jun, 19

The Turin Horse

BERNHARD: Because everything’s in ruins. Everything’s been degraded, but I could say that they’ve ruined and degraded everything. Because this is not some kind of cataclysm, coming about with so-called innocent human aid. On the […]

Jun, 19

Cargo 200: Blurred Spaces

Russian director Aleksey Balabanov is a fascinating and discomfiting filmmaker, responsible for one of the very few successful Kafka adaptations, The Castle, to which Balabanov boldly appended his own ending. Technically brilliant, Balabanov is generally […]

Jun, 15





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"Those who live in the present but who harbor no doubts about the structure of authority, those whose anger does not drive them to delve into the essentials, and those whose approach to their art raises no questions, all of these must renounce their status as artists."
—Masayuki Takayanagi