From Prospect, Beyond good and evil: For 60 years, Nicholas Mosley has written novels that are widely admired but not always understood. Rejecting realism, his work addresses symbolic truths—notably the idea that good and evil are inseparable. It's an approach that has put him at odds with the literary establishment. Outing an Unfinished Novel: Edmund White takes liberties with a Stephen Crane fragment. Comic versions of books need a novel angle: There's no point in turning books into pictures if the pictures add nothing to the words. The dirty snobbery about smutty books: The vast amount of shameless smut in 'highbrow' books doesn't stop them being respected. The rules change when the fun is aimed at the mass market.
From The American Spectator, a review of Counterpoints: Twenty-Five Years of The New Criterion on Culture and the Arts, ed. Roger Kimball and Hilton Kramer; and Roger Scruton on Art, Beauty, and Judgment. The introduction to Talking Prices: Symbolic Meanings of Prices on the Market for Contemporary Art by Olav Velthuis. The artless branding of Frida Kahlo: The centennial of the artist's birth is being marked by exhibits, merchandise, and family dissension. The Jailhouse Jackson Pollock: Donny Johnson is a convicted murderer who has been kept in complete solitary confinement for the past 18 years. He started painting in order to stay sane, using dyes extracted from M&Ms and a home-made brush. Now his paintings sell for $500 each.
Time and again pop impresarios demonstrate that individuals rather than corporations do best in the music business. Svengalis marry art and commerce much more effectively than faceless organisations. They are classic lone entrepreneurs, willing to back hunches, take risks and bet against the crowd. Ebony and Imus: Cornel West hangs with Prince and challenges—not denounces—hip-hop. A review of Let's Spend the Night Together: Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies by Pamela Des Barres. A triumph of style over substances: A review of W Axl Rose: the Unauthorised Biography by Mick Wall. An interview with Brad Warner, author of Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, and Death.
From 2000, Csaba Gombár explains why, as an eastern European, he could only take the western countercultural "revolution" seriously in retrospect and why contemporary societies don't share the Enlightenment's belief in radical progress (and part 2). A better tomorrow? Bosnia is yet to throw off the horrors of its past. But the citizens, especially youngsters, seem ready to embrace a new future. From Sodobnost, portrait of a moment in the life of a nation: A decade and a half after Slovenia's declaration of independence, political and cultural life in the country is stagnating. A moderate sense of national spirit and collective self-love may be the only way forward. Peripheries and borders in a post-western Europe: Europe is taking not just a post-national form, but also a post-western shape.
From Prospect, Leaving Baghdad The al-Hayalis were set to join the hundreds of thousands of middle-class families who have fled Iraq since the invasion. Just before their departure, calamity struck. From LRB, Burn Rate: Ed Harriman writes about making money and losing ground in Iraq. A review of Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. From The American Conservative, The Surge That Failed: Six months of Bush’s new strategy hasn’t made Iraq safer or more stable. Sorry, Mr. President, You're All Out of Troops: But maybe France can help solve the Iraq mess. Which Iraq War do you want to end? We're fighting at least three of them. Juan Cole on Bush: In the footsteps of Napoleon.
Is the president imploding? His aides are jumping ship, his inner circle is torn apart by feuds and his orders are being ignored. Bush has 17 months left in the White House, but he is now a rudderless leader. The resignation of Alberto Gonzales has brought a smile to the faces of many Bush Administration critics, but will it bring real change? A New Agenda for Justice: Here are 10 priorities that would help the next attorney general guide the department back on course. Cass Sunstein on how to prevent another disastrous Attorney General. Benjamin Wittes on cleaning up Gonzales's mess. Gonzales quits, but plenty of Bush's loyal losers hang on: A look at The Unqualified, the Unscrupulous, and the Bush White House. All the President's Flunkies: Why Bush stands by his incompetents.
James Cockayne (IPA): The Global Reorganization of Legitimate Violence: Military Entrepreneurs and the Private Face of International Humanitarian Law. From The American Interest, Edward N. Luttwak on Why Weapons Are So Expensive: Though computers constantly get cheaper and more powerful, new high-tech weapons end up costing more and more. What's wrong with the U.S. military? So a new industry was born, known in the trade as "Intelligence Support Systems", complete with its own annual conference. If you’re in Dubai next February, drop by. Homeland Insecurity: Anti-terrorism efforts vary from the marginally effective to the utterly pointless. A review of In Defense of Our America: The Fight for Civil Liberties in the Age of Terror by Anthony Romero and Dina Temple-Raston. A review of Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State by by Norman Solomon.
From The Nation, a review of books on Katrina and New Orleans. Reckless Abandonment: Is the Bush administration leaving Katrina-ravaged neighborhoods to die on the vine? A review of Down in New Orleans: Reflections from a Drowned City by Billy Sothern. In Nature’s Casino: With the cost of natural disasters far beyond the insurance industry’s ability to pay, a new market has sprung up to spread the risk. But how do you calculate the odds of catastrophe? A review of Sugarcane Academy: How a New Orleans Teacher and His Storm-Struck Students Created a School to Remember by Michael Tisserand. Climate Change and the Threat to the U.S. Coast: If you thought Katrina was the big one, wait till you see what's coming to your neighborhood.
From Political Affairs, an essay on Nature, Society and Human Survival. A review of Dirt: The Erosion of Civilization by David R. Montgomery. From Grist, are scientists overestimating — or underestimating — climate change? (and part 2 and part 3). It's tempting to think that if you scare the shit out of people that mass mobilization against global warming will at long last ensue. Call of the mild: Scientists are being asked to set aside their professional reticence and become vocal crusaders - for the sake of the planet. A review of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben. Big Oil's Particular Profits: How oil companies are taking advantage of basic thermal science to squeeze billions of dollars a year out of consumers' pockets.
Joseph Raz (Oxford): (1) Reason, Reasons and Normativity; (2) About Morality and the Nature of Law; (3) Can There be a Theory of Law?; and (4) The Argument from Justice, or How Not to Reply to Legal Positivism; Ilya Somin (George Mason) and Neal Devins (William and Mary): Can We Make the Constitution More Democratic? Steven Douglas Smith (San Diego): Our Agnostic Constitution. Larry Alexander (San Diego): What Is Freedom of Association, and What Is Its Denial? James Fowler (UCSD) and Sangick Jeon (UC-Davis): The Authority of Supreme Court Precedent. Peter Westen (Michigan): Why Criminal Harms Matter: Plato's Abiding Insight in the Laws.
Form Ovi, an article on Heroic Materialism in Western Culture (and part 2). A review of Democracy's Good Name: The Rise and Risks of the World's Most Popular Form of Government by Michael Mandelbaum. Leo Strauss has been blamed for the rise of the neocons and even the invasion of Iraq. Now one of his disciples hopes to clear his name. The first chapter form The Transformation of American Politics: Activist Government and the Rise of Conservatism, ed. by Paul Pierson and Theda Skocpol. A review of The Postmodern Imagination of Russell Kirk by Gerald J. Russello. An article on the pragmatism of Russell Kirk. Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism is not exactly a title you would expect to encounter at National Review.
The first chapter from The Unnatural History of Science by Alan Wallace. The introduction to The Great Brain Debate: Nature or Nurture? by John E. Dowling. Mind over matter? Many philosophers and scientists have argued that free will is an illusion. Unlike all of them, Benjamin Libet found a way to test it. Out of your mind, not out of your body: Out-of-body experiences can now be created at will. Studying them sheds light on the nature of consciousness. Real Out-of-Body Experiences: By providing wrong but matching views and feelings, scientists mentally "teleport" people outside their own bodies. Viral and virtual: A plague in a computer game may have epidemiological lessons for the real world.