Best of the Moment
Holly Case | Chronicle Review | 7th October 2013
On Stalin's fixation with editing. As editor of Pravda he rejected 47 articles by Lenin. "Stalin always seemed to have a blue pencil on hand, and many of the ways he used it stand in direct contrast to common assumptions about his person and thoughts. He edited ideology out or played it down, cut references to himself and his achievements, and even exhibited flexibility of mind, reversing some of his own prior edits"
Neil Sheehan | Washington Post | 4th October 2013
Review of The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide, by Gary Bass, "a profoundly disturbing account of the hitherto hidden role of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of inhabitants of East Bengal during Pakistan’s civil war in 1971". Nixon and Kissinger could probably have pressured Pakistan to halt the carnage. But "they simply did not give a damn" (Metered paywall)
John Wilkins | Evolving Thoughts | 7th October 2013
Instead of positing our basic emotions as separate things, we can map them on to a two- or three-dimensional framework in which they form a continuum. "They are not distinct and unique qualitative features of the human psyche. Fear and frustration are just coordinate locations in that space". Bonus fact: these taxonomies do not include "love" as a basic emotion. Love is "just a social name for a variety of states"
Jennifer Senior | New York | 6th October 2013
Remarkable interview with conservative Supreme Court judge. Sample quotes: "The worst opinions in my court have been unanimous. Because there’s nobody on the other side pointing out all the flaws." "Originalism is more respectable than it was. But there’s still only two justices up here who are thoroughgoing originalists." "I believe in the Devil. What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God"
Adelle Waldman | New Yorker | 2nd October 2013
The problem of portraying it in fiction, that is. Jonathan Franzen does it well, most other male writers do it badly, because they fail to understand the complications. "Beauty is often treated as an essentially feminine subject, something trivial and frivolous that women are excessively concerned with. Men, meanwhile, are typically seen as having a straightforward and uncomplicated relationship with it: they are drawn to it"
Thought for the day:
"It is a common prejudice that censorship is bad for art. If this were so, we should now be living in a golden age" — Anthony Daniels