The Nightstand

The Banalities of “the Birth of Modern Agriculture”: A Review...

All of the biases, all of the bloodlessness, and all the banalities of Tractor Wars, I suggest, are the products of a whole way of thinking about technology, agriculture and the economy, one that values invention over implementation or use, innovation over maintenance or care, and the “modern” over the technologies that are proven to work better for the plants, animals and people of the broader communities of agriculture in the present as well as the past.

P.G. Wodehouse and the Idea of Genius

We might not use the word “genius” in all these contexts, but the mystery is the same. Where did this exceptional ability come from? Is it just another trait like brown eyes or curly hair? We know only that this aptitude defies our disciplines and formulas and couldn’t have been foreseen. Bestowed upon otherwise ordinary people, genius singles them out in one salient regard. It’s a gift that the wise don’t take for granted, a revelation that might beckon each time we visit a gallery, see a movie, attend a concert, open a book.

Your Brains are in Your Hands: Doug Stowe on Forming Mind,...

Stowe’s book is both timeless and timely. Our physical embodiment as human creatures is always essential, but it is especially so amid increasing digitality. The last two years of pandemic-related economic fluctuations and supply-chain instabilities have further driven home the importance of developing manual competence on a local and familial level, which adds to the book’s importance.

Living When We Are: A Review of Brisbane

Vodolazkin's novels do for Time what Wendell Berry does for Space: We can't just live where we are, we have to live when we are, too. So thanks to Vodolazkin for the timely reminder. And requiescat in pace, Jack: thanks for doing just that.

The Front Porch as a Way of Seeing: A Review of...

There is a significant difference between staring at a computer screen and seeing the world through a porch screen. Hailey emphasizes the benefits of seeing from the “threshold between stability and precariousness,” which is nothing like viewing the world from the comfort of a couch in an air-conditioned room, even if the porch is also comfortable.

Localism and the War on Drugs: A Review of The Least...

For Quinones, the twin opioid and meth epidemics have their origins in the destruction of community. The decline of local institutions creates a vacuum of isolation and hopelessness in which drugs can gain a foothold, despite all efforts to keep them out. Reading The Least of Us, one is struck again and again by the seeming futility of efforts to solve the drug problem by limiting the available supply of illicit substances.

Common Good and Bad Ideas

By reducing the value of words and, hence, constitutions, common good constitutionalism seems even more likely to veer into the dangerous realm of personal preference-based decision-making. Many figures could be clothed by the “loose fitting garment” that Vermeule has tailored. Before he removes the constraints of constitutionalism, perhaps he should rehear his own 2016 words of warning that as “culture sours and curdles, so will the law.”

Consent to be Used or Vow to Love: a Review of...

What Emba most successfully conveys throughout the entirety of her brief book is an awareness that we are never “our own.” This is certainly right, but she does not go far enough in revealing just how radical this interdependence is, and why it warrants placing sex back within the context of marriage and family-building. While Rethinking Sex speaks to an audience fed up with sexual disappointment, it omits family and marriage as forms of belonging and responsibility that stem from our sexuality.

Tending a Rooted Congregation: A Review of The Power of Place

If “church” is the body of Christ in its local manifestation, where each and every member is connected to one another and everyone knows each other’s names and stories, have cried together and laughed together, worshipped together, served together, prayed together, argued together, eaten together, and attended each other’s family funerals, then church becomes a place and community that is life-transformative in the manner that Grothe advocates.

Seeing the Midwest New: A Review of The Everlasting People

It is perhaps that personal search for contentment that makes this book a notable contribution to the literature on the American racial problem: Milliner’s “penitent Midwest regionalism” is first of all an attempt to heal within himself the disease and discontentment produced in those of us who have been told that what matters about us is that we are white.