THR Web Features   /   April 10, 2015

The Hedgehog’s Array: April 10, 2015

Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“The Assistant Economy,” Francesca Mari

“Nothing becomes an assistant so much as leaving his or her job. ‘The worst thing to be called,’ Aronofsky’s assistant told me, long after he’d moved on, ‘is a really good assistant.’”

“What Part of ‘No, Totally’ Don’t You Understand?,” Kathryn Schulz

“For the most part, this enthusiastic ‘no’ has very little negative meaning, or really much semantic content at all. It is more like verbal punctuation—like the initial, upside-down exclamation mark in Spanish that alerts you to impending excitement: ¡Totally!”

“Il n’y a pas d’Israël pour moi,” Jerry White

“That is, basically, the limits of François’s moral imagination; he can find nothing between the dead culture of fascism and the undead culture of consumerism. It doesn’t take long for the reader of Soumission to conclude that this is also more or less the limit of Houellebecq’s ability to imagine the complexity of modern life.”

“The Nearest Thing To Life,” James Wood

“I find that my memory is always yeasting up, turning one-minute moments into loafing, ten-minute reveries. Displacement also adds its own difficulties. I sometimes feel, for instance, that I grew up not in the 1970s and 80s but in the 1870s and 80s.”

“Having Fun,” Ben Jackson

“Does anyone remember ‘dog shit girl’? In 2005, her dog defecated on the subway in South Korea and she refused to pick it up. Her fellow passengers offered her tissues but she got aggressive and used the tissues to wipe the dog. Outraged people took photos; within hours they were all over the web. Soon her name, age, university and other personal information were posted online.”

“Can Matthew Crawford Deliver Us From Distraction?,” Michael S. Roth

“Matthew B. Crawford burst upon the scene in 2009 with a compact, powerful book, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work (Penguin), a macho denunciation of the contemporary world of cubicle life and an ode to the joys of mechanical dexterity and productivity.”

Hedgehogs abroad:

“Pluralism Doesn’t Mean Relativism,” John Inazu

"The pointed commentary surrounding the Indiana law is a recent reminder that we lack agreement about the purpose of our country, the nature of the common good, the meaning of human flourishing."

"Six Centuries of Prints," Leann Davis Alspaugh

“Since Renaissance humanism first made it acceptable—even imperative—for artists to draw attention to themselves, creative types have complied and produced many forms of what curator James Clifton calls ‘ego-documents.’”

“In Defense of Specialization,” Chad Wellmon (paywalled)

“To judge from the jeremiads of some of academe’s elite scolds, the specialized scholar is an anachronism. Disciplinarity is dead. Or it should be.”