Torturing Writers in the Name of G.W. Bush

George W. Bush called Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili a “Beacon of Democracy” of the new world in 2005.  Saakashvili had always supported the Iraq War and all other wars and has even started his own war with Russia. George Bush was trying to help him, and Saakashvili returned a favor.  He has named a street after Mr. Bush.

Reading "The Badger"

I got back from England last week. While I was there it surprised me to see on at least two occasions a cold mound of badger flesh, large as a black plastic rubbish sack, one dead paw raised as if to ask a question in class, lying at the side of a rural road. I don't remember that sight from the days when I grew up in the country.

The Purposeless Life of Flowers

« Pourquoi donc y a-t-il des fleurs ? » Pourquoi ? Pour rien. Parce que. La beauté des fleurs est là, c’est tout. Pour rien. Et sûrement pas pour nous. Mais voilà : nous y sommes sensibles, et cela, ce n’est pas rien.

On Meaning and Flowers

One of the pleasures of teaching is the ability to linger at length with students on questions such as this: « Pourquoi donc y a-t-il des fleurs ? » [Why on earth are there flowers? Philippe Jaccottet. Cahier de verdure, 1990 : 106].

Beyond Wikipedia: Notes on Robert Lowell's Family

"Family connexions are part of the poetry of history," Noel Annan asserted in "The Intellectual Aristocracy", one of the most famous essays ever written on British culture. Fortunately or unfortunately, it would be fair to embellish Annan's point by adding that sometimes "family connexions are part of the history of poetry." That, at least, is what this post seeks to demonstrate.

Against Narratives III. Or a Certain Kind of Narrative

A recent talk by my colleague Joshua Landy on "Still Life in a Narrative Age: Charlie Kaufman's Adaptation," and the comments on my most recent blog "Against Narrative" made me cruelly aware of a divide between on the one hand the perception of what Josh and myself see as the creeping dominance of narrative models to think about life, but also, by extension, to experience it.