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Tag: humanities

Review: Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman’s “Big Friendship”

Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman’s Big Friendship is a little book with a lot of heart. Having written an essay on the nature of friendship last year, this is a topic about which I am very passionate. Sow and Friedman’s take on the subject is energetic, and in its best moments manages to also be profound. I’ll [...]

Review: Madeleine Thien’s “Do Not Say We Have Nothing”

In his 2011 book Confucian Role Ethics, philosopher Roger T. Ames reflects on the relationship between individual identity, family dynamics, and music in the Confucian tradition: The timelessness and broad appeal of the teachings of Confucius begins from the insight that the life of almost every human being, regardless of where or when, is played out within [...]

Review: Ada Palmer’s “The Will to Battle”

The Will to Battle, the penultimate installment of Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota Quartet, is somewhat stranger than its predecessors but every bit as brilliant and entertaining. It’s an in-between tale––a bridge from one place to another. Such stories always run the risk of being needlessly convoluted or just tiresome, but Palmer manages to keep the pacing and [...]

Review: Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist”

Following the tragic killing of George Floyd in May and subsequent protests, the concept of antiracism has come to dominate our national conversation about America’s brutal legacy of slavery and racism. While this is a complex topic with many possible interpretations, Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist has emerged as one of the authoritative texts to [...]

Review: Scott Barry Kaufman’s “Transcend”

In 2020––a year painfully riddled with death, loss, and uncertainty––cultivating our capacities for compassion, love, and flourishing seems both harder and more necessary than ever. In this crucial project, I can think of no better text to guide us than Scott Barry Kaufman‘s Transcend. This enlightening and joyous voyage into humanity’s psychological history, present, and possible futures arrived [...]

Review: Ada Palmer’s “Seven Surrenders”

Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota Quartet continues to delight and astound me. Since Seven Surrenders was originally planned as the second half of Too Like the Lightning, please start with my review of that book; I won’t repeat key information about the series that was covered there. Better yet, just stop reading this review and get your hands on a copy of Too [...]

Review: Patrick Saint-Paul’s “The Rat People”

In 2014, Evan Osnos reflected on the time he spent as a foreign journalist in China: The longer I lived in China, the more it seemed that people had come to see the economic boom as a train with a limited number of seats. For those who found a seat––because they arrived early, they had the [...]

Review: Ada Palmer’s “Too Like the Lightning”

I discovered Ada Palmer via a couple interviews on one of my favorite podcasts, Singularity.FM  (Interview #1, Interview #2). Even if you have no interest in this series or science fiction in general, I highly recommend that you listen to these interviews. If you do, you’ll quickly find yourself enthralled by what is surely one [...]

Review: Elena Ferrante’s “The Story of the Lost Child”

There can be no doubt that Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels comprise one of the great literary masterpieces of the early 21st century. Even so, the end of this series left me numb, enervated to the point of apathy. It’s hard to tell if my reaction is the aberrant result of a desolate narrative’s collision with the very [...]

Review: Mark Johnson and George Lakoff’s “Philosophy in the Flesh”

In a recent discussion, a friend of mine identified a conspicuous lacuna in our cultural conversations about the human mind and technology. This lacuna, he said, arose from a tendency to treat the brain as a discrete, self-contained information-processing and experience-producing system. When we do this, it becomes easier (albeit still daunting), to imagine successfully [...]