From Postmodern Culture, Jussi Parikka ( Humboldt): Insects, Sex, and Biodigitality in Lynn Hershman Leeson's Teknolust; an interview with Christian Bok on his current project, The Xenotext Experiment, which explores the intersection between poetry and biotechnology; a review of Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day; and a review of The Ethics of Mourning: Grief and Responsibility in Elegiac Literature by R. Clifton Spargo. From The New Yorker, a review of The Most Arrogant Man in France: Gustave Courbet and the Nineteenth-Century Media Culture by Petra ten-Doesschate Chu.
From Nextbook, The Right Questions: German conceptual artists find provocative ways to confront the Holocaust. From Axess, the conformity of rebellion: It has become a requirement of contemporary culture that art transgress norms and overstep boundaries. But the absurdity of this consensual rebellion is being exposed by Søren Ulrik Thomsen and Frederik Stjernfelt, authors of Critique of negative edification, who want to free art from any ideological directives, whether radical or conservative. It may sound macabre, but the creator of Disce Mori (latin for "learn to die") jewellery is just one of a crop of contemporary artists and interior designers inspired by the art of taxidermy.
From Prospect, in recent years, the economics of pop music have been upended. The market for CDs has collapsed, and not even the rise of legal downloading can offset the damage to record companies. Meanwhile, demand for live performances has rocketed. A review of Something in the Air, Radio, Rock, and the Revolution that Shaped a Generation by Marc Fisher. A review of The House That George Built: With a Little Help From Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty by Wilfrid Sheed. A review of The Life and Death of Classical Music by Norman Lebrecht. Cue the violin: A review of Hitchcock's Music by Jack Sullivan.
From PopMatters, a review of The Gangster Film Reader. Readers of The Guardian pick their top 50 comic movies, with quite a few surprises thrown in. Why is the screenwriter the Cinderella of film? Screenwriters are solitary creatures who rarely get recognised for their achievements. A review of Not Remotely Controlled: Notes on Television by Lee Siegel. Our Springfield soft spots: Ten (out of 10,000,000) reasons why we love The Simpsons; a look at why Lisa Simpson is the heart and soul of the longest-running TV sitcom of all time; and maybe Bart is right, the Simpsons are not so different from the Waltons after all. They may be misfits, but they subscribe to the same cosy theory about the importance of sticking together. There are 12 kinds of ads in the world: Resist them all!
Making Development Less Risky: Innovative forms of insurance could unshackle a green revolution in Africa and other poor nations. A Godsend for Darfur, or a curse? A newly discovered lake under the barren soil of northern Sudan is as likely to be a source of conflict as a solution to the bloodshed. The Best Hotel in Hell: As the city all around it remains the epitome of urban anarchy, Mogadishu's Peace Hotel offers tranquility, security, Internet access and good food. Unites States of Africa: Most are quick to ridicule the idea of a unified African state, but it’s the struggling continent’s only hope. The Americans Have Landed: A few years ago, with little fanfare, the United States opened a base in the horn of Africa to kill or capture Al Qaeda fighters. By 2012, the Pentagon will have two dozen such forts. The story of Africa Command, the American military's new frontier outpost.
Busting the Merchant of War: The Bush administration finally nails a notorious supplier to terrorists—after he spent 30 years hiding in plain sight. Is your Muslim doctor the enemy? How terrorist groups target middle-class Muslims. Why do they hate us? Stick to core American values and you will find many allies in the Muslim world. John Esposito on understanding Islam. Muslims, in a very specific way, are not strangers in your midst. They are kin, and not just kin in the lovely way that all humans are. Islam needs a Reformation. It needs someone with the courage of Martin Luther.
The European Problem: How American Muslims could become as alienated as European Muslims. What to expect when you're expecting a co-wife: Why American Muslims don't care to legalize polygamy. From Newsweek, a special report on Islam in America: Muslim Americans are one of this country's greatest strengths. But they're vulnerable as never before; America was built on diversity. The same is true of Islam; and Inside the Cyber-Jihad: Are we in danger of losing the war of ideas on the Web? What went wrong? Akbar Ahmed on how Bush still doesn't get it.
Disfavor for Bush hits rare heights: In the modern era, only Nixon and Truman scored worse, just barely. From Political Affairs, is George W. Bush the worst president in US history? Norman Markowitz investigates. Dicking Around: Spencer Ackerman reviews Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President by Stephen F. Hayes. Murdoch's Crackpot Minion: Liberals can only hope that crackpots like Bill Kristol maintain their influence over the Republicans for a few more years, reducing the right-wing party to a permanent minority. When are Republicans going to come clean and admit they hate democracy? From The New York Observer, Niall Stanage on why Rush Limbaugh loves Cindy Sheehan.
The Problem of Equality: An excerpt from The Commercial Society: Foundations and Challenges in a Global Age by Samuel Gregg. Virginia Postrel reviews Pop! Why Bubbles Are Great for the Economy by Daniel Gross. What’s Behind the Superstar CEO Curse? Executives apparently suffer from the corporate equivalent of the Sports Illustrated curse, which supposedly destroys star athletes’ performance once they appear on the magazine’s cover. A review of Richistan: a Journey Through the 21st-Century Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich by Robert Frank. An article on the curse of inheritance: Do wealthy dynasties always make for happy heirs? A review of The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America by Daniel Brook.
Consent of the Governed: The election of gay officials isn't about promoting agenda; it's about electing the most qualified individuals. What God didn't give them, ebay will: Drag queens are coming out of their closets as Glasgow’s cross-dressing cabaret scene takes off for the first time in a decade. Paul Dalgarno discovers that when it comes to big dance routines and lung-busting diva anthems, you can’t keep a good woman down. Girl/Boy Interrupted: A new treatment for transgender kids puts puberty on hold so that they won't develop into their biological sex. A review of The Decency Wars: Campaign to Cleanse American Culture by Frederick S. Lane.
From Counterpunch, an article on the Christian Right, sexual scandal and the sexual pleasures of the Courtesan. The Curious Morality of Leadership: Much can be learned from the wobbly, ongoing fall of Sen. David Vitter. The indiscretions of former GOP "family values" poster boy Sen. David Vitter are the latest examples of Republican sexual and moral hypocrisy stretching from Congress to the presidential campaigns. Does the religious majority rule? With church-state issues, the answer is often yes. In six communities where public religiosity was contested in court, an unfortunate theme emerged: Insiders who crossed the majority view quickly became outsiders. The Origins of the God Gap: Only 30 years ago, the party of Jimmy Carter had religious voters locked up. How it lost this crucial bloc is a story of fear, ignorance and political deafness. Ovid the poet would go off like a stink bomb in Ovid the town: And that gives Sam Jordison a warm glow. What better indication of the continuing relevance of one of his favourite poets than his ability to shock Baptist America to its humourless core?
From Prospect, Roger Scruton on the sacred and the human: Today's atheist polemics ignore the main insight of the anthropology of religion—that religion is not primarily about God, but about the human need for the sacred. As René Girard argues, religion is not the cause of violence, but the solution to it. From Taki's Top Drawer, an essay on Hitchens’ Hubris. From The Atlantic Monthly, an interview with Christopher Hitchens on God Is Not Great. From Jewcy, what the angry atheists get wrong: Religion doesn’t require a belief in God.
From Bad Subjects, a special issue on Hope, including an introduction, and an essay on The Moral Politics of Hope: Nihilism has, in its own way, become fashionable, a facade that shields its devotees from the burdens of empathy and human connection. But if nihilism is a fashion, we should remember that fashions go out of style; an interview with geographer David Pinder on radical geography, cities and the politics of utopia; American conservatives preach about the sanctity of life, yet do not promote programs that would help millions of low income citizens get health care. Cutting through the hypocrisy to get to the hope, the author calls for more accountability among the "pro-life"; an article on the war FOR illegals; Future Now! In a lot of ways, the promising future of cyberspace that dawned in the early 1990s has come to pass a decade and a half later; and four snapshots of hope.
From Ovi, the Poetical as the Mind in Action: In order to recover lost humanistic modes of thought in a rationalistic era, it may be useful to revisit Marshall McLuhan, some twenty five years after his death; and Montaigne saw the essay as a presentation of the self, while Pascal’s definition of the traditional essay was that of a “peinture de la pensée,” i.e. a painting of the mind in action. From Prospect, the last interview with Albert Ellis, the foul-mouthed father of cognitive therapy, a modern Diogenes at odds with the institute he founded, and convinced of the value of Stoic wisdom. Is living longer worth it? Ronald Bailey pursues the longevity dividend at Transvision 2007 in Chicago.
An interview with Adrian Moore, author of The Infinite, on what infinity is and of some of the paradoxes it gives rise to. Infinity Comes in Different: Sizes If you were counting on infinity being absolute, your number's up. Is time travel possible? Not all scientists agree but according to Einstein and quantum theory, time travel could be possible. A review of Is Science Neurotic? by Nicholas Maxwell. Will John Wilbanks launch the next scientific revolution? Using innovative copyrights and a Web 2.0 platform, John Wilbanks may just transform how scientific discoveries are made. For scientist John Scott Haldane, life was one long experiment.
X-ray Eyes in the Sky: Scientists are working on satellites that will see far below the planet’s surface, to better understand the structure and composition of Earth’s crust, mantle and core. A review of Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, Birds, and Earth’s Ancient Atmosphere by Peter Douglas Ward. The roots of happiness: A review of Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees by Roger Deakin. A review of The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring by Richard Preston. A review of Chasing Kangaroos: A Continent, a Scientist, and a Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Creature by Tim Flannery. A review of The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss.