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World Alienation and Global Tourism

“Before we knew how to circle the earth, how to circumscribe the sphere of human habitation in days and hours, we had brought the globe into our living rooms to be touched by our hands and swirled before our eyes.” -Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition In 1492, the same year that Christopher Columbus sailed west…Read more World Alienation and Global Tourism Posted on 31 March 2014 | 10:53 am

The Preferential President

There is a fascinating essay over on the Guernica blog, where David Bromwich examines “how Obama became a publicist for his presidency (rather than the president).” In his first term Obama delivered 1,852 separate speeches, comments, or scheduled public remarks and granted 591 interviews. These exceptional numbers, explains Bromwich, were the result of  “magical thinking”…Read more The Preferential President Posted on 12 March 2014 | 11:56 am

Arendt on the Declaration of Independence

“Declarations of Independence: Arendt and Derrida on the Problem of Founding a Republic” Bonnie Honig The American Political Science Review, Vol. 85, No. 1 (Mar., 1991), pp. 97-113 Arendt often emphasizes the ramifications of the modern loss of authority for politics. Without faith in traditions or gods, humanity now continually faces the problem of legitimacy…Read more Arendt on the Declaration of Independence Posted on 7 November 2013 | 10:36 am

In the Age of Big Data, Should We Live in Awe of Machines?

In 1949, The New York Times asked Norbert Wiener, author of Cybernetics, to write an essay for the paper that expressed his ideas in simple form. For editorial and other reasons, Wiener’s essay never appeared and was lost. Recently, a draft of the never-published essay was found in the MIT archives. Written now 64 years…Read more In the Age of Big Data, Should We Live in Awe of Machines? Posted on 7 June 2013 | 3:21 pm

The New Materialism: From ‘Why’ and ‘What’ to ‘How.’

“The shift from the ‘why’ and ‘what’ to the ‘how’ implies that the actual objects of knowledge can no longer be things or eternal motions but must be processes, and that the object of science is no longer nature or the universe but the history, the story of the coming into being, of nature or…Read more The New Materialism: From ‘Why’ and ‘What’ to ‘How.’ Posted on 8 April 2013 | 11:03 am

When Power is Lost

Power is actualized only where word and deed have not parted company, where words are not empty and deeds not brutal, where words are not used to veil intentions but to disclose realities, and where deeds are not used to violate and destroy but to establish relations and create new realities.  -Hannah Arendt, The Human…Read more When Power is Lost Posted on 14 January 2013 | 11:46 am

Arendt & Antigone

In a short entry in her Denktagebuch from 1956, Arendt offers a gnomic reflection on Antigone: Ad Orff, Antigone: Als sei alles darauf angelegt, uns zum Ertönen zu bringen. Wir aber verschliessen uns, verstummen und klagen nicht. Antigone- die klagende, tönende menschliche Stimme, in der alles offenbar wird. Ad Orff, Antigone: As if all was…Read more Arendt & Antigone Posted on 20 November 2012 | 3:25 pm

A Common Faith

Academics ignore novelists at their peril. Especially in the case of Marilynne Robinson. Robinson’s novels are extraordinary (my favorite is Gilead) but her essays are equally illuminating. Take for instance her most recent offering “A Common Faith” published by Guernica. One hazards to simplify an essay whose essential thrust is to oppose simplification.  Robinson begins…Read more A Common Faith Posted on 6 April 2012 | 12:06 pm