On the vital role of the arts and hermeneutics in the current political climate.
On the challenges facing the contemporary writer who dares to question the status quo.
The Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practice, and ethics of the press in the United Kingdom has just issued its report. The inquiry was occasioned by the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed the UK tabloid press (especially Rupert Murdoch's titles) in 2011.
In early 1614 a royal censor named Márquez Torres was reading the manuscript of the second part of Don Quixote, to be released the following year, when he got into a conversation with some visiting dignitaries in the company of the French ambassador.
"FRANCE HAS A NEW PRESIDENT." It does not look like much of a statement on paper, or on a computer screen: five little words, almost too short for a tweet. But France today is still dazed from the news, floating between disbelief, relief, and exhaustion.
On May 6, Americans will understandably be more impatient to watch the 2012 Comedy Awards than to discover the winner of the second round of the French presidential elections. And this is not because now that Stephen Colbert has a Super-Pac, American politics have officially merged with comedy.
In a radio interview with Dan Rodricks last week, I used the term "character fundamentalism" to indicate a kind of thinking that, while not explicitly religious, was nevertheless fundamentalist and iniquitous to a functioning democracy.
It's hard to catch up with the latest episodes in the Strauss-Kahn drama (rumor has it that screenwriters are frantically taking notes to spurt out a series for cable television come September).
I won't pretend like I trust or respect political art. I think it's inherently suspect. Which is not to say that art cannot have a powerful galvanizing effect on politics, or that it cannot be great art.
I have an idealistic view of what it is to have a career. I like to imagine that people are careful about choosing a life's work. I like to think that pointless activities -- while key to recreation -- are banished from the world of work. Unfortunately there is a sharp rebuke to this idea. In a word: Politics.