For most people, not reading is just about the easiest thing in the world to do. But if you’re someone who visits this site, you aren’t one of these people. We try to give you good writing, whether ours or written by others, to feed the need. So once again, here are some pieces we think are worth reading with your Sunday morning coffee (or whenever you get around to it).
- This Newsweek (yeah, I didn’t know it still existed either) profile of the writer William T. Vollmann reveals that the FBI kept (and possibly still keeps) tabs on him and suspected that he might have been the Unabomber. I must confess to never having read an entire Vollmann book, but the excerpts I have read are outstanding. I never would have thought of him as a contender for the Nobel, but given his politics production, the suggestion actually makes sense.
- Two of the most interesting pieces I’ve read on the Richie Incognito affair couldn’t come from more different sources: Grantland and The National Review. Brian Phillips takes on the contrived (and frankly offensive) warrior culture of football in his Grantland article, writing: “Because this — this idea that Jonathan Martin is a weakling for seeking emotional help — this is some room-temperature faux-macho alpha-pansy nonsense, and I am here to beat it bloody and leave it on the ground. Every writer who’s spreading this around, directly or by implication; every player who’s reaction-bragging about his own phenomenal hardness; every pundit in a square suit who’s braying about the unwritten code of the locker room — every one of these guys should be ashamed of himself, and that’s it, and it’s not a complicated story.” I tend to agree with this sentiment, but Daniel Foster offers another take over at NRO: “Phillips affectingly writes of America as a ‘nation of gentle accountants and customer-service reps who’ve retained this one venue’ — the National Football League — ‘where we can air-guitar the berserk discourse of a warrior race.’ But he says that like it’s a bad thing. On the contrary, this compartmentalization and channeling of destructive impulses into less harmful endeavors — recognized in Freud’s concept of sublimation and William James’s ‘moral equivalent of war’ — is the hallmark of a civilized people. Every institutional order needs it. The Amish need their Rumspringa, Europe needs Amsterdam, and a nation of gentle accountants needs the National Football League.” Like I said, I agree with Phillips that the less we tolerate meathead culture the better, but I don’t think Foster is wrong to suggest that if we want that, we might need to accept the end of football.
- I probably don’t need to tell you how awesome the Paris Review is, but it bears repeating: The Paris Review is awesome. Check out this interview with Nabokov and try to tell me otherwise.
- Helen Vendler’s review of Linda Leavell’s new biography/study of the works of Marianne Moore will get your excited to read the works of one of America’s least obviously weird and radical poets.
- And finally, if you have not checked out my friend Drew’s multi-platform project Artbound, this video and article will give you a sense of the kinds of fascinating stories you are missing out on.