Category Archives: Culture

Which? What? What now? Trying to Make Sense of the Michael Brown Case

As many in this country try to comprehend and process the shooting of Michael Brown last week, a lot of information has come out very quickly. Some of it is true, some of it is not. Some if it is … Continue reading

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In which I confess my fascinations

While looking for a fairy tale that I’ve been thinking about I stumbled across this short story (  that completely blew my mind. There’s something about Jewish writers- Potok is hands down one of my favorites of all time- that has a latent power. I don’t know if it’s the story centered culture or the mixture of mysticism and reality that blends so naturally but it’s a chord that’s almost unmistakable. Really the only thing that comes close for me is the South American writers like Marquez or Allende who blend Catholicism, animism, and cultural upheaval with the same magical realism. Something about them has a stronger hold on me than almost any other style- perhaps is the deep awareness of suffering. These writers, both the Jewish and the South American deal with suffering in a way that both creates a reasoning for suffering but also faces it with a sort of stoic acceptance. It seems suffering simply is and as such must be written in a matter of fact way. There isn’t a strong sense of railing against it’s existence or attempting to avoid it. Fatalism is the bright copper thread that carries the spark of the stories. This fatalism isn’t that of defeat or despair but rather a sort of recognition of story. The power arises with in when the narrators accept our position as characters rather than authors. Things will play out as they must because people are who they are, because things are as they are, because the story must be told. As this short story says: “We have only to deliver the story,” cautions Gabriel. “We are not the authors of people’s lives.” 

For those who are interested, I strongly recommend Potok’s “My Name is Asher Lev”, Allende’s “House of the Spirits”, and Marquez’s “100 Years of Solitude” (“Love in the Time of Cholera” is a masterpiece as well). I’m afraid I’ll be setting all my other books aside until I re-read these. 

For further discussion of Potok and how much, and why, I love him, here are two attempts at explaining my fascination with him. They are poetic in form and therefore not as straightforward as this prose but Potok has a power I can’t handle in prose, at least not with the skill he deserves. 

First is “Why I read Asher Lev jealously” :

Secondarily is “Why I fear Asher Lev” :

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Speaking Smug to Smugger

I knew that I would not like HBO’s The Newsroom as soon as a detailed premise trickled down to me. I do not have HBO, so the chances of me becoming a regular viewer were slim in the first place, … Continue reading

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Surrounded By Heads and Bodies

The Atlantic recently ran a piece titled, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” The article, written by Stephen Marche, examines the strange, and often noted, fact that despite being more connected than ever before, people are not any happier, and do … Continue reading

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