"Reading Arts & Letters Daily Between Deadlifts" Edition
Obligatory shilling. I wrote for The Critic about the ACLU and overcoming O’Sullivan’s Law.
Good family fun. We cover the big news here at THE ZONE. News like, “Seaham Conservative Club wrestling 'death match' event probed by police”. Apparently, some wacky independent wrestling company in Durham, England advertised a show to families and then included a match featuring broken light tubes and a strimmer. There’s a small insight into art and culture here. Shock value burns itself out. Once, a wrestler bleeding at all was a special event deserving of a big show. Now, wrestlers in Durham, England are horrifying a handful of parents and children by mutilating one another with gardening equipment.
Art and evidence. Popular Atlanta rapper Young Thug and several members of his YSL collective have been arrested on RICO charges. This has raised the question of whether lyrics should be admissable as evidence. In my opinion, general references to crime should not. It would be outrageous to arrest someone for singing I shot the sheriff. But references to specific crimes are another question. If someone sang, I shot Sheriff Joe Bloggs - and Sheriff Joe Bloggs was in fact killed - it is hard to see the difference between that and a confession.
History and theirstory. Having considered hardcore wrestling and rap, let's turn to something less palatable. Ed West considers the contortions of woke scholarship:
From the 16th century Protestants were incentivised to present the Middle Ages as badly as possible, a time of intolerance, backwardness and superstition (just as their ideological descendants today use 1950s or Victorian as pejoratives, painting those eras as bleakly as possible). Later, Enlightenment scholars libelled the medieval as the archetypal age of superstition and violence, even though the worst torture and cruelty really came about in the early modern era. Turning the Middle Ages woke is part of a long tradition.
The core experience. Michael J. Lewis reflects on the life and work of Christopher Alexander:
Trying to find common ground, Alexander proposed that they consider a building they both regarded as great, Chartres Cathedral. Eisenman interrupted, calling Chartres boring and uninteresting: “Once you’ve seen one Gothic cathedral, you’ve seen them all.” Alexander was stunned, and responded heatedly: “It never occurred to me that someone could so explicitly reject the core experience of something like Chartres. . . . If this weren’t a public situation, I’d be tempted to get into this on a psychiatric level.”
An unserious writer. Andrew Sullivan considers the strange career of William Kristol:
As I’ve said, it’s no sin, and even a virtue, to change your mind. But to have been so passionately on the extreme edge of one side of an issue he regarded as one of core morality, and then flip to the other side entirely — with absolutely no account of why — is not a mark of any halfway serious writer.
“What is mind? It doesn’t matter. What is matter? Never mind” Kit Wilson explores our consciousness:
In fact, the 'implicit assumptions adopted by most neuroscientists invariably lead to some sort of dualistic framework'. Collapsing the Venn diagram between brain and mind into a single, perfect circle, it seems, is a lot harder than we thought.
Have a lovely week,