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Short Takes

“After becoming Lord Protector, in 1653, Oliver Cromwell quickly issued a proclamation against duelling, and also–according to Jonathan Swift, who had it on good authority–strongly encouraged his nobles to adopt a rude and jokey familiarity with one another. Phony insults, he hoped, would inure them to real ones.”

Why one artist needs philosophers (Thanks, Tyler!)

“His assessment of Bloom–like his praise of other scholars and critics–is intensely personal, including jibes about his physical girth and style of delivery (‘Bloom/Boom’) and not the better for it. Even the unfortunate poet Shelley, because admired by Bloom in lectures Rosenbaum heard as a graduate student, gets caught up in the indictment, dismissed in The Shakespeare Wars in crassly reductivist and inadequate terms.”

About the gulag and Solzhenitsyn’s moralistic streak…

The New York Times just put the smack down on The New Yorker (although not, alas, on Malcolm Gladwell). Read through to the last line. Trust me, it’s worth it.

“The bookies’ early money to win the Bookseller/Diagram Prize for the year’s oddest book title is expected to be on How Green Were the Nazis?, by Thomas Zeller, Franz-Josef Bruggemeier and Mark Cioc (Ohio University Press); or Julian Montague’s study of urban life and irretrievable loss, The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: a guide to field identification (Harry N Masters).”

Another reason not to write for a living.

Could have done with less TM, more Twin Peaks (which is, incidentally, one of the few television shows I was allowed to watch as a child).

Stanford Prison Experiment professor calls the kettle black. Seriously, since when does inducing nervous breakdowns in undergraduates in the name of experimental psychology qualify you to criticize anyone’s morality?

Wanting to drop out and write is rebellious, sure, but it requires actually doing the thing. “Give yourself a break. Take another day off?” From what, pursuing his ambition to be a writer? Yes, slackers have disappeared from the mainstream, but that’s another thing entirely and inapplicable here. In the note, it sounds like the guy is depressed (my first clue: “I get suicidal thoughts”) and should maybe seek counseling.

“Standing on a street corner in Midtown Manhattan in 1946, Jean-Paul Sartre looked for New York. But he couldn’t find it.”

Apparently, pot plants are a lot less fun in Britain.