Meaty weekend reading

After the rain

It’s the weekend, so (1) the flurry of posts is a bit lighter, and (2) hopefully you have a little more time than usual for a good read. With that in mind, you may want to peruse these somewhat more substantial posts:

  • Ellen A. Laird, The Chronicle Review, Prime Suspect, Second Row Center . Chilling, sobering story of a community college professor and the term she had an accused murderer in her class – an English class whose main focus was crime literature.

    I did not use his last name in class, but several students—tightlipped and stone-faced—knew exactly who he was. They struck me as uncharacteristically, almost eerily reserved, right from the start. At each class meeting the first week, some of the seats around him were empty.

    It just brings up so many issues: class, privilege, assumption of innocence, small-town gossip, real-life themes echoed in classic literature; a really gripping essay.

  • Christina Schwarz, The Atlantic, Leave Those Kids Alone.

    He recognizes that children want facts, but that their facts are not the same as the ones adults insist on. Adults, with their mundane concerns and all-too-real capabilities, with their organizing and explaining, are “the natural enemy of the child.” A child craves magic, Smith maintains, and magic depends on having space where adults will not “butt in.”

    But childhood is not just preparation for “real life,” it’s a good portion of life itself. … As Smith’s memoir demonstrates, childhood—those first, fresh experiences of the world, unclouded by reason and practicality, when you are the center of existence and anything might happen—should be regarded less as a springboard to striving adulthood than as a well of rich individual perception and experience to which you can return for sustenance throughout life, whether you rise in the world or not.

    Beautiful.

  • Linda Holmes, Monkey See blog on NPR, In Praise Of Cultural Omnivores. Regarding the tension between “high” and “low” culture:

    While most people who go to the ballet or to the orchestra believe that it possesses both elements of pleasure and elements of profundity, the pleasure part can be gotten in a lot of places.

    Thus, the message in support of traditional high culture focuses on the part of it that feels imperiled, so it often comes in the form of what feels like an endless series of scoldings.

    I’ve definitely experienced an internal scolding on this front. I’m not a season ticket-holder to the Minnesota Orchestra this year: in part because of the kid, in part because of the (real or perceived) difficulties in getting the spouse to sit down and look at the schedule with me. But it’s also in part because, I confess, one of my reasons for being a ticket-holder in past years is that I really want to support the arts, as I am afraid of their dwindling down to nothing, and I just didn’t have the energy this year for something that felt partly like an obligation.

    I like to think of myself this way, in part because I want to believe I’m a well-rounded, well-educated person:

    Omnivores thrive in an environment in which, if you are defined by your cultural interests, you at least don’t have to be defined by any one cultural interest. Tolerating the ideas that classical music can be viscerally stirring and that Survivor can be sociologically interesting allows much better balance — which benefits everyone — than an escalating and unnatural war between fun and art.

    (Only I’d replace “Survivor” with “30 Rock,” no question; I may struggle with being a snob and not wanting to admit it, but I have no compunction admitting that I think reality TV is crap.)

Have a good weekend, everyone! Today is just gorgeous – I went for a run and actually had to take my jacket off; we’ll see what tomorrow has in store for us (rain?). If it’s not cloudy tonight, you may want to check out the moon. Finally, if you’re on Twitter and want to know what we’re up to in my office, consider following @BurgerLibrary.

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