Blue Humanities

Without the sea, no clouds, no rain, no rivers, no life, perhaps. Seven-tenths of the world’s surface is sea — and yet! What do we know? The oft-repeated dilemma that we know more about the moon than we do about the waters of this world, comes to mind. Such a …

The Annual Edge Query

In my first year, teaching argumentative writing, at Mizzou (University of Missouri) I used the annual Edge question as the foundation for the course. That year, it was: What is your most dangerous idea? Some students took the question literally and replied by writing essays on skydiving or swimming with sharks, …

The Oddball Trove 

Carl Sandburg, a poet and biographer, reportedly told his children that he would leave them millions in his passing — millions of pieces of paper, and other ephemera. We are currently selling our home, and I have the misfortune of complete strangers traisping through my office, which is the present …

John Berger’s Theory of Art 

“The function of the work of art,” Berger sums up Raphael, “is to lead us from the work to the process of creation which it contains.” In other words, the viewing of art allows us to see how we are not the victim of history, but rather its subject. And as …

Destruction of the Romanov Myth

The rise and fall of the Romanovs   Yesterday, I finished Simon Sebag Montefiore’s The Romanovs and it ends as you know it does, but still the termination of this family’s 300-year reign as sovereign gods of Russia is still shocking in its brutality. The book covers the history of a family safeguarded by …

Marlene Dietrich’s Marginalia

Rather fascinating look at Ms Dietrich’s reading annotations. For years, the actress’s personal copy of “The Collected Works of Shakespeare” was easily accessible to students in Paris. Source: Marlene Dietrich’s Marginalia – The New Yorker