Category: CULTURE & CRITICISM

A Writer’s Last Port of Call: V.S. Naipaul

ED CURTIN—Outwardly at least, the story Naipaul tells in The Enigma of Arrival is impersonal, slow-paced and almost boring in its progression (much like ordinary life). After twenty years in England – “savorless and much of it mean” – having failed in his effort to leave England with its history of colonial exploitation and become “a free man,” his spirit broken and his nerves shattered, he settles in a “cottage of a half-neglected estate, an estate full of reminders of its Edwardian past” on the Salisbury Plain near Stonehenge.

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Declinism Rising: An Interview with Morris Berman

MORRIS BERMAN—That Francis Fukuyama could write a book around that time called The End of History and be a professor at a major university has got to be the most laughable thing imaginable. (Don’t get me started on the degradation of American higher education. Jesus, talk about decline!) As though history could end! What a dummy! One of the things I’ve argued is that there is a lot of stupidity in the United States, and it includes large numbers of people with high IQs. There are people running around with high IQs – David Brooks, for example – who are in fact little more than bad jokes, and yet are worshipped as sages. Fukuyama is a good example of this.

So, what have you got? You’ve got a deep systemic emptiness. This comes from the fact – in the case of consumerism, capitalism and so on – that you’ve embraced an ideology without knowing it’s an ideology, whose basic philosophy is “more.”

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This Weird World: Change of the Guard in various countries

P. GREANVILE—bserve closely and try to see what these rituals tell you about a culture. In some cases, you will be surprised. My own impression is that the Greeks show the influence of the Turks, while the US—amazing for its surprising sheer weirdness— approximates that of a real automaton. Meanwhile, the Taiwanese excel in precision movements, while the Indo-Pakistani, mirroring their legendary enmity, indulge in a male display of mock ferocity on steroids that borders on the comical. Note traces of the British influence in their high stepping and arm movements.

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‘The Death of Stalin’ & ‘sweet’ Hitler? Comparing postwar European cinema

RAMIN MAZAHERI—But humanising the literal Hitler-lover Eva Braun? For one thing – that is not feminism at all. It is no more pro-feminist than this week’s absurd article from The New York Times: Was This Powerful Chinese Empress a Feminist Trailblazer? No, Empress Cixi (reign 1861-1908) was not. At all. Empress Cixi was a disaster for China during her 50-year rule. Drugs, foot-binding, colonial domination (for which she was the willing puppet), social disarray – all were rampant under her reign. Not every woman in power is a feminist, nor good to nor good for women…but this is simply not the view of the West in 2018.

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