A Prescription for Forgetting

Diane Mehta in  Longreads: “You’re dead,” said the meditation guide. “You’ve been dead a long time.” I start crying. “What do you see?” she asked. I whimpered, “My dad somewhere, cremated, maybe a river, gone for decades. My son is older. He has a family. He thinks of me sometimes. I can’t stand it.” “They’ve been…

Toward a More Human Medicine

Aaron Rothstein in The New Atlantis: In his essay “How the Poor Die,” George Orwell recounts a story from 1929, when he experienced a bout of severe pneumonia and was treated in a Paris hospital, which he simply calls the Hôpital X. The essay is a frightening, dark, but humorous tale of medical care — or…

Escaping Slavery in a Hot-Air Balloon

Colm Toibin in The New York Times: When the novel “Washington Black” opens, it is 1830 and the young George Washington Black, who narrates his own story, is a slave on a Barbados sugar plantation called Faith, protected, or at least watched over, by an older woman, Big Kit. As a new master takes charge, the…

Conscience and Resistance

Scott Sanders in Orion Magazine: Until recent years, the sound of rain has always filled me with a sense of blessing. Rain drumming on the tin roof of a Tennessee farmhouse, my first home. Rain pattering on the canopy of oak and maple forests in Ohio, on forests of pine in Maine and Vermont, on reeds…

Love, Death, and Other Forgotten Traditions

Dorsa Amir in Nautilus: The science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein once wrote, “Each generation thinks it invented sex.” He was presumably referring to the pride each generation takes in defining its own sexual practices and ethics. But his comment hit the mark in another sense: Every generation has to reinvent sex because the previous generation did a…

German Jews wanted to negotiate with the Nazis

Ron Chernow The Warburgs from Delancey Place: In 1933, with Hitler and the Nazis boycotting Jewish businesses, many powerful Jews in Germany and the powerful American Jewish charities opposed retaliation, advocating negotiation instead. Some viewed Hitler as a “weak man” and wanted to “strengthen his hand”: “Once the Nazis had cleansed Germany of opposition parties and ended parliamentary…

A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh

Andrew Levine in Counterpunch: In his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Brett Kavanaugh put on a prodigious display of vacuity and mendacity.  Kavanaugh is the retrograde jurist picked by Donald Trump to fill the Supreme Court vacancy that arose when the Court’s “swing vote,” Anthony Kennedy, retired. His politics is god awful, but that…

The ethics of political art

Geenen et al in Africa is a country: How can arts respond to conflict, human rights violations and impunity? What role can they play in peace building and reconciliation? These questions are raised by Milo Rau’s Congo Tribunal, a multimedia project, consisting of a film, a book, a website, a 3D installation, an exhibition in The Hague and, most centrally, a performance that took place in Bukavu and Berlin. The project has…

John Steinbeck was a sadistic womaniser

Sian Cain in The Guardian: The manuscript for My Life With John Steinbeck, by the author’s second wife and mother of his two children, has been in Montgomery, My Life With John Steinbeck recalls a troubled marriage that spanned 1943 to 1948, a period in which he would write classics including Cannery Row and The Pearl. During…