In my dream, I had just entered the sitting room of my house. It was still several hours before dawn, but music was quietly playing: I heard the last lines and fading chords of Schubert’s “Der Leiermann,” in the recent recording by Jonas Kaufmann, before silence fell. I was confused at first, but I soon spied my dog, Roland, sitting on the carpet in front of the large bay-window seat, staring out into the night. A soft, pure lunar light, shredded by the pine branches outside the glass into long glistening ribbons of pale silvery blue, poured gently into the room and over his mottled fur of white, brindled brown, and cobalt gray, and for a few moments it almost seemed as if he were himself little more than a pattern of shadows and moonlight. The illusion vanished, however, when he turned his head and held me for an instant in the cool gleam of his eyes, before returning his gaze to the window. “I’m sorry,” he said in that warmly resonant voice of his (so hauntingly similar to Laurence Harvey’s). “Did the singing rouse you? I thought I had the volume down low enough to disturb no one.” Continue Reading »
ISI is currently taking nominations for its Henry and Anne Paolucci Book Award. This award honors the best book of conservative scholarship published in 2013. You can read more about the award at paolucci.isi.org.
The deadline is today: Friday, May 16. The more suggestions, the merrier!
Email suggestions Jed Donahue at firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure to include the names of the books.
Season Seven, Episode Five (“The Runaways”): A very disjointed episode of Mad Men. Don Draper is marginal to most of its action; two watchable characters (Roger Sterling and Joan Harris) are absent from it entirely; and we endure two eruptions of gratuitous weirdness, one in the form of kinky sex, the other in the form of sexualized mutilation. Altogether, we find the story de-centered and distinctly schizoid. Continue Reading »
It has been several months since I saw HBO’s first season of True Detective, but something about the series has stuck with me. Detectives Rust Cohle and Marty Hart investigate a series of bizarre ritualistic killings, but to be honest, I didn’t care much about that. What stuck with me was Rust’s pain and, even more, Marty’s domestic failures. Each man tries to explain and explain away his actions, but neither man is able to live according to his professed philosophy. Both men talk about and talk around the burden of living as beings that matter in a world of other beings that matter. Continue Reading »
Some years ago, I read much of Perry Miller’s The American Puritans for a class. I came away from it with an appreciation both for the deep beauty of Puritan English and for the Puritans themselves, people who found morality and civic life serious enough matters that they dedicated great care to them. Continue Reading »
Bob Dylan has a lot in common with Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet. Don’t take my word on that: Listen to the man himself. He made the comparison in a 2012 interview with Mikal Gilmore that was published by Rolling Stone, one I discussed last week. Continue Reading »
It is a moment etched in baseball history. On April 8, 1974, the Los Angeles Dodgers were facing the Atlanta Braves, with Braves slugger Hank Aaron on the brink of a milestone. When he stepped to the plate in the fourth inning, against lefty hurler Al Downing, Aaron had 714 career home runstying him with Babe Ruth. Continue Reading »
Rejection comes in all shapes and sizes. Thin envelopes, long conversations, and terse emails. Yet historically, the reactions to rejection have remained fairly consistent: self-doubt and dejection. Continue Reading »
Journalists have always been puzzled by Bob Dylan, but the confusion is of their own making. The pattern of treating him as a trickster whose words cannot be taken at face value was established in the sixties, when the rock intelligentsia wanted Dylan to be a political as well as musical revolutionary. He was neither, of course. His radicalness came from a deeply conservative understanding of musical history: He was reading Civil War era newspapers while everyone else was reading Norman O. Brown and listening to Gospel and Blues when music was becoming “pop” in the fifties. Continue Reading »