Two Inches off the Ground

by Mark English Sorting through some old papers, I came across a letter from John Spencer Hill who taught a Master’s course on Romanticism that I took. The letter had been written not long after his return to Canada to take up a position at the University of Ottawa. He would have been in his mid-to-late thirties and he was […]

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Sex / Gender / Politics

By E. John Winner Introduction 1953 saw the release one of the worst films ever made – Glen or Glenda, written and directed by the master of bad cinema, Ed Wood. Promising to be an exploitation film about the then new transsexual surgery conducted in Sweden, it is really a boldly auto-biographical revelation of Wood’s own transvestism. (1) As badly […]

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Where the Beauty Lies

by Mark English The neurologist treating my mother’s Parkinson’s disease, an old-school physician with a heavy Afrikaans accent, first suggested using music as part of her treatment some ten years ago. We probably would have got around to it anyway, as she had had some early training in music and retained a great love for certain Romantic piano pieces and […]

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The Price of Freedom?

by David Ottlinger “This is the price of freedom.” Such were the thoughts of Bill O’Reilly upon receiving reports of nearly sixty people being fatally shot at an outdoor Las Vegas concert. (1) O’Reilly, it would seem, is able to crystallize his thoughts with enviable quickness. The quotation appeared in a short post only the morning after the shots were […]

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Degrees of Assimilation

by Mark English In a recent essay, Daniel Kaufman recalled the days when he and a couple of friends used to climb through a hole in the perimeter fence of their junior high school on Long Island and have lunch at Andel’s Kosher Delicatessen – “Hebrew National hot dogs, potato knishes, and half-sour pickles, washing it all down with Dr. […]

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A Close Look at “Stranger Things”

by David Ottlinger This essay assumes that one has watched Netflix’s Stranger Things, Season One, and contains spoilers.  Season Two has just aired and will be the subject of a future essay. There was no particular reason I should have loved Stranger Things. It followed the usual formula for a streaming show: a dense plot, rich atmosphere, large cast, mystery […]

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Self-Discovery and Political Opinion

by Mark English How do we come to have the political views we have? Genetics (and, more broadly, biology) plays a part, but only, I think, to the extent that genetics/biology contributes to determining broad psychological characteristics, relating to personality type for example. The main contributing factors are no doubt socio-cultural and relate to one’s upbringing, etc., bearing in mind […]

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Why Virtue is Sufficient for a Life Worth Living

By Massimo Pigliucci My friend Dan Kaufman, over at the Electric Agora, has written a nice compact piece arguing that the Aristotelian view of eudaimonia — the life worth living — is significantly more defensible than the Stoic one. (Except, as even Dan acknowledges, when things aren’t going well and people live in times of turmoil. Which, one could argue, […]

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Three Boys and a Hole in a Fence

by Daniel A. Kaufman These last few days, I have been in NY – Long Island to be precise – staying with my mother, while my father is traveling.  This has become something of a ritual.  My parents are elderly – my father will be ninety in June and my mother just turned eighty-six, last August – and have reacted […]

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Art and Emotion

by Mark English Experience has taught me, when I am shaving of a morning, to keep watch over my thoughts, because, if a line of poetry strays into my memory, my skin bristles so that the razor ceases to act. This particular symptom is accompanied by a shiver down the spine; there is another which consists in a constriction of […]

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