I wrote this essay in the immediate aftermath of the January 6th assault on the U.S. Capitol but was uncertain whether I should share it. Today, however, three weeks since that assault, it is all too clear that the public’s attention is already moving on. We are drifting into national forgetfulness, as we have done so often before and as we must not do again. It is crucial that we remember what happened on January 6th and that it has happened many times before. Otherwise, it will happen again.
The storming of the Capitol by a violent mob on Wednesday, January 6th, left many Americans stunned. It should not have. Violent white supremacists committing insurrection with impunity is business as usual in the United States of America. January 6th was simply a repetition of one of the oldest themes in our history.
Hi everyone! On Saturday, September 5th, I gave a Zoom talk titled “Imagining our Way to the Promised Land: Imagination as a Path to a Better Tomorrow” as part of the forum “Love, Unity, Peace, Hope: For the Betterment fo the Global Village.” In it, I draw on literature as an example of how the imagination can be employed in more sophisticated ways and then discuss how a well-trained imagination is essential to envisioning and ultimately realizing a world different from, and better than, the one we live in today. Luckily, it was all recorded and posted on YouTube, so I can share it with you here:
I tried something new today. I listened to music while walking around. I know. It’s hard to believe I’ve never done this before, but when I’m out and about, I usually like to have all of my senses engaged: the full experience. I often listen to music while riding the subway, but I take out the earbuds when I get off the train. Today, however, I left them in. Continue reading
In his essay, “Why Read the Classics?,” collected in the eponymous volume, Italo Calvino argues that “… it is no use reading the classics out of a sense of duty or respect, we should only read them for love.” He adds, “It is only during unenforced reading that you will come across the book which will become ‘your’ book” (p. 6). I began reading Dante out of curiosity, but then I fell in love with an imaginative vision that dared what few authors have dared–and what no writer today would even consider. Continue reading
I saw a man with a beard on the subway today. You don’t often see beards like that. Continue reading
Photo by Carl Van Vechten
Langston Hughes is one of those poets whose work appealed to me as a young person–I think I was in ninth grade when I first read his poetry–and has only continued to grow in my estimation since then. Continue reading
[UPDATE: I’m pleased to let you know that this essay has been published on The Columbia Review‘s website.] Commencement season at Barnard College this year will mark the ninetieth anniversary of Zora Neale Hurston’s graduation with a BA in anthropology. As a graduate of Barnard’s sister institution, Columbia University, I feel the time is more than ripe to reflect on some of Hurston’s contributions. Continue reading
Ever since I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay “Fairy-Stories,” I’ve wanted to write a post about it. Then Ursula Le Guin’s new collection No Time to Spare came out, and I wanted to include some of her comments too. So far, so good, two of my favorite authors backing up several points on which I’m quite passionate. Then Continue reading
October 22nd of this year marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’í Faith and the most recent of God’s Messengers to humanity–whose number includes Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, and an unknown number of other Messengers whose names have been lost. Continue reading
I have just read the most wonderful comment on youth in the introduction of a book, the rest of which I do not own and cannot vouch for, but which might be worth owning for this line alone: Continue reading