Inis Cealtra.” Paul Kingsnorth explains—sort of—what he’ll be writing about for the foreseeable future. What makes it challenging to explain is that he’s after something beyond words: “The silence of the hermit, the reality of the well: the faith that is rooted in the rocks, and which bubbles up from the ground. Maybe I need these things to counter my heady tendencies. Maybe I am not the only one. There is no theory that can accommodate the truth.”

The Liberality of Liberal Education.” Jennifer Frey makes a case for liberal learning in today’s academy: “the path forward for higher education is not to force students to choose between liberal learning and the more practical arts, but to help them understand why a liberal arts education is the necessary foundation for any major or concentration—whether this be in liberal arts such as philosophy or mathematics, or the more practical arts of mechanical engineering, international business, or finance.”

Reimagining the Liberal Arts College.” Bradshaw Frey draws on Wendell Berry to propose a vision of education that might revive both dying towns and dying educational institutions: “The times are perilous. Might we develop a compelling desire to re-establish an education built around Berry’s vision of truth-telling for the common good? An education that sees its own mission rooted in the wellbeing of its community and region rather than in the launching of abstracted careers?”

Homesick.” Zarina Zabrisky travels to Chornobyl and ponders the meaning of home in a place where so many have been made homeless. One of the few people who still live there tells her, “‘I have lived here since seven, and I am eighty-one now,’ he says. ‘If they make me leave, what do I take? Clothes? Photo albums? This war is terrible, a betrayal by Russia. Son of a bitch, Putin, damn KGB. He makes people abandon everything and leave their homes.’”

Keeping Her Place.” Brian Miller describes the difficult choices that farmers who know their animals well must make when culling their flocks: “They might be sold to another sheep farmer or someone looking to start their own flock. Then again, they might be bought as part of a larger lot and head to a processor. You never know who will be buying on any given day.”

A Burning Stomach, a Fickle Globe.” Nathan Beacom describes how recent enforced dietary restrictions prompted him to think about how we love those parts of creation that we are withheld from enjoying: “There are those who face severer losses still, like the loss of their hearing, their sight, their memory, their motor skills, or other things besides. Here, basically, is the question: can we give our love wholeheartedly to a world which may be snatched away from us?”

The Death of the Romantic Liberal.” Mathis Bitton reviews Samuel Moyn’s Liberalism Against Itself and weighs its contribution to the debates over liberalism’s nature and effects. He concludes that Moyn “has written what may be the most comprehensive appraisal of Cold War liberalism to date. Some will quarrel with his interpretations. Many will disagree with his normative prescriptions. But all, right or left, cold warriors or not, will learn from his contribution to the debate between liberalism and its critics. To liberals, Moyn offers a path to renewal; to critics, he presents a worthy opponent, who refuses to hide behind neutrality or procedure.”

Why Good Men Are Hard to Find.” Josh Herring reviews Nancy Pearcey’s The Toxic War on Masculinity and finds it a refreshing, constructive account of what masculinity can look like: “Toxic War reminds readers that the choice is not just between Tate or Ken; there is a better way. Pearcey provides a strong contribution to the current conversation on masculinity, and a building block for future work on what it means to live well as a man.”

Christina Rossetti: A Woman for All Seasons.” Tessa Carman writes a perceptive analysis of Rossetti’s poetic arc: “Christina Rossetti is a rare poet: the strength of her quiet faith, her self-sacrificial love, and her keen spiritual perception invigorate her art.”

Ross Douthat’s Theories of Persuasion.” Isaac Chotiner profiles Ross Douthat for the New Yorker and describes how he voices his conservative positions in a liberal institutional context: “Douthat is highly skilled at addressing liberal Times readers in a manner that makes clear he is not one of them, without allowing them to think that he actually holds views—about Donald Trump, say, or the importance of vaccines—that would render him beyond the pale.”

How Elon Musk Went from Superhero to Supervillain.” Our cultural obsession with some hero (or villain) who will save (or wreck) the globe is part and parcel of our celebrity-driven media ecology. And it’s not healthy. Regardless, Jill Lepore isn’t too impressed by the new Elon Musk biography: “[Walter] Isaacson shadowed Musk for two years and interviewed dozens of people, but they tend to have titles like C.E.O., C.F.O., president, V.P., and founder. The book upholds a core conviction of many executives: sometimes to get shit done you have to be a dick. He dreams of Mars as he bestrides Earth, square-jawed and indomitable. For the rest of us, Musk’s pettiness, arrogance, and swaggering viciousness are harder to take, and their necessity less clear.”

Who Left the Barbarians in Charge of our Books?” Brian Dijkema diagnoses the assumptions that lead technocrats to trash books they don’t like: “Both the Left and the Right are acting like barbarians and pushing a vision of education that is destroying our shared past and the reflections of human beings trying to make sense of the world. It has to stop. It’s time for a more humane, human-scale, vision of education.”

Do Not Conform to the Work Habits of AI.” Bonnie Kristian warns that to the extent the work we do has already been conformed to machine standards, it’s replaceable by machines: “What it means to be conformed to the pattern of a machine in our work will vary, of course, according to the jobs we do. For me, machine-like malformation might look like laziness in language, sloppiness with facts, sleight of hand in argumentation—anything for a shortcut, to increase volume and lessen costs. In other lines of work, the specifics will differ, but guiding values of ruthless speed, bureaucratic adherence to formulae, ease over expertise, and alienation from normal human goods will be the same.”

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture