The Geography of Melancholy

To walk in the country is to walk in and among life. That which is growing is growing of its own accord; there is a dynamic force—what the Romantic poets called Nature naturans—that suffuses the natural existence. A single blade of grass may be impermanent; a field of grass is not. But to walk in a city is to walk among ghosts, the narratives of onetime denizens building up like layers of clay shards…

Review: On Lydia Davis’ “Can’t and Won’t”From the Print

This removed, and slightly veiled, narrative condescension is a trademark of Ms. Davis’ writing in Can’t and Won’t, a collection which takes empty, circular bourgeois life as its subject, and then immediately seems to resent having done so. Ms. Davis writes as if she were forced to take on this subject, as if it were an assignment, and so many of her stories here read like transcriptions of (elegant) tantrums.

“A Question of Silence”: Why We Don't Read Or Write About EducationFrom the Print

If in recent years one type of writing has managed to at least hint at the genuine problem in education, it is the adolescent fantasy novel. [...] The structuring desire of every novel of this sort is the same: a well-resourced school that offers a meaningful education. The anxiety that eventually takes over the story is also the same: that the school will turn out to be just as authoritarian, just as banal and arbitrary as its real-life counterparts.

The Sound of TED: A Case for Distaste

A decent strategy with TED might be to reclaim our teenage capacities and treat these videos as hopelessly passé—ignore them to death. Critiquing them, even as I have done, will do what criticism has done for television: creating an added enjoyment as you go on consuming the crap you despise…

Four Short Essays From "The Hard Problem"

One time I was in therapy for being sad, and while I was there I learned about The Power of Positive Thought. I know this sounds like magic and/or fake and/or antithetical to the open-eyed truth telling to which we’ve all dedicated ourselves as writers, but if you would like to not kill yourself after years and years of sitting at a desk with little or nothing to show for it, it’s a really great option…

Ragnarök on the Seine

The convicted Norwegian murderer and black metal icon, Kristian ‘Varg’ Vikernes, is to appear at a hearing before the public prosecutor, having been charged with one count of public provocation of racial hatred, and one of glorifying crimes of war and crimes against humanity…