A guide to close reading


books-open-on-table

A gift for readers of Needull.

  1. Who is the text written by and what do you know about the author(s) and their context?

  2. What type of text is this (a philosophical treatise, an autobiography, a poem, a lecture, sermon etc)?

  3. Who is the author writing for, and how might their intended audience shape the kind of text they are writing?

The complete article

Marika Rose — An und für sich

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Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem?


Is capitalism the problem?

Probably.

There are people in the U.S. fighting against the Keystone pipeline. There are people in Britain fighting against the privatization of the National Health Service. There are people in India fighting against corporate land grabs. There are people in Brazil fighting against the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. There are people in China fighting against poverty wages. These are all noble and important movements in their own right. But by focusing on all these symptoms we risk missing the underlying cause. And the cause is capitalism. It’s time to name the thing.

Fast Company

Image: Painting by William O. Pate II

The Rise of the Thought Leader


When did a TED talk become a philosophy course?

The rich have, Drezner writes, empowered a new kind of thinker—the “thought leader”—at the expense of the much-fretted-over “public intellectual.” Whereas public intellectuals like Noam Chomsky or Martha Nussbaum are skeptical and analytical, thought leaders like Thomas Friedman and Sheryl Sandberg “develop their own singular lens to explain the world, and then proselytize that worldview to anyone within earshot.” While public intellectuals traffic in complexity and criticism, thought leaders burst with the evangelist’s desire to “change the world.” Many readers, Drezner observes, prefer the “big ideas” of the latter to the complexity of the former. In a marketplace of ideas awash in plutocrat cash, it has become “increasingly profitable for thought leaders to hawk their wares to both billionaires and a broader public,” to become “superstars with their own brands, sharing a space previously reserved for moguls, celebrities, and athletes.”

The New Republic

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

Never-Before-Published Hannah Arendt on What Freedom and Revolution Really Mean


Many will be interested in this “Never-Before-Published Hannah Arendt on What Freedom and Revolution Really Mean.”

In the 1960s, some years after the publication of her book On Revolution, Hannah Arendt lived in a world of revolutionary events, to which she was particularly sensitive. Such events included the expulsion of Krushchev in the Soviet Union; the construction of the Berlin Wall dividing Germany into two states; the Cuban missile crisis; the so-called “Quiet Revolution” in Canada, nationalistic in character; the Civil Rights movements here and abroad; anti-war protests, some of which were deadly, here and in Europe; military coups in South Korea, Vietnam, and Greece; Pope John XXIII’s profoundly revolutionary Second Vatican Council; the horror of the Cultural Revolution in China; the scientific revolution best known as “the conquest of space”; and the ongoing decolonization and independence battles in formerly imperial domains.

This manuscript, never before published, is marked “A Lecture” and dated “1966-67.” Where and when it was delivered, or if it was delivered, is not known. The manuscript seems too long for a single lecture. It might have been given at the University of Chicago where Arendt was teaching at the time in the School on Social Thought. Or it could have been at the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research, which Arendt agreed to join in 1967, primarily to be in New York, close to her husband, Heinrich Bluecher, who was unwell. The where and when of the lecture have not been confirmed, though extant records have been thoroughly searched.

Literary Hub

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

Dead Dogs


What do pit bull bans tell us about the freedom-versus-security dilemma?

In legal rationales, realities are created. Old inequalities and radical discrimination are repackaged in unexpected forms. In breed-specific legislation, the taint and incapacity of the disenfranchised live on. At a time when our government is labeling certain persons as threats—alleged terrorists, enemy aliens, illegal immigrants, ordinary people who want to get on airplanes—we need to ask how the seizure and destruction of dogs deemed contraband becomes a medium for the intimidation and debasement of humans in turn. Who should suffer deprivation without redress so that we can live in reasonable—safe and secure—consensus? And who gets to decide?

Boston Review

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

Texting Toward Utopia


Many believe the Internet leads to democratization of authoritarian regimes (see media coverage of the Arab Spring). Evgeny Morozov stands against such technological determinism.

[D]rawing conclusions about the democratizing nature of the Internet may still be premature. The major challenge in understanding the relationship between democracy and the Internet— aside from developing good measures of democratic improvement—has been to distinguish cause and effect. That is always hard, but it is especially difficult in this case because the grandiose promise of technological determinism—the idealistic belief in the Internet’s transformative power—has often blinded even the most sober analysts.

Boston Review

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

Choosing to Be Childless Comes at a Cost


Do you discriminate against those who choose not to have children?

“Our data suggests that not having children is seen not only as atypical or surprising, but also as morally wrong.”

Pacific Standard

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper