Mark Danner has been writing a series in the New York Review Of Books: Rumsfeld's War And Its Consequences Now
A bare two weeks after the attacks of September 11, at the end of a long and emotional day at the White House, a sixty-nine-year-old politician and businessman—a midwesterner, born of modest means but grown wealthy and prominent and powerful—returned to his enormous suite of offices on the seventh floor of the flood-lit and wounded Pentagon and, as was his habit, scrawled out a memorandum on his calendar:[more inside]Interesting day— NSC mtg. with President— As [it] ended he asked to see me alone… After the meeting ended I went to Oval Office—He was alone He was at his desk— He talked about the meet Then he said I want you to develop a plan to invade Ir[aq]. Do it outside the normal channels. Do it creatively so we don’t have to take so much cover [?]
Today it is an economic and even geopolitical necessity for oil companies, in order to maintain pipelines and offshore rigs, to send divers routinely to depths of a thousand feet, and keep them at that level of compression for as long as a month at a time. The divers who do this work are almost entirely male, and tend to be between the ages of twenty-five and forty. Were they any younger, they would not have enough experience or seniority to perform such demanding tasks. Any older, and their bodies could not be trusted to withstand the trauma. The term for these extended-length descents is “saturation diving,” which refers to the fact that the diver’s tissues have absorbed the maximum amount of inert gas possible.
The Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary has been taking care of the multitude of felines that haunt the Largo Argentina archeological site in Rome since 1995. Their website has a page about its history, videos of their cats, and all the things you find on cat shelter websites. But they also have a blog dedicated to their fight with local authorities. Italian archeological administrators have demanded that the feline sanctuary be evicted [NYT] from the location of Julius Caesar's assassination, but the cat shelter is fighting back. In the blog of the New York Review of Books, the almost certainly pseudonymous Massimo Gatto points out that the archeological site is a hodgepodge of actual ruins and bad reconstructions dating back to the Fascist era.
Edward Gorey's gothic tales from the vault: ' Edward Gorey's arch eccentrics are on display in two reissues and a never-before-published story.' [more inside]
Looking for a break from horse-race coverage of the 2012 election? The New York Review of Books has thirteen short essays on the election and its consequences. Michael Tomasky. Elizabeth Drew. Cass Sunstein. Frank Rich. David Cole. Richard Dworkin. Russell Baker. Darryl Pinckney. David Bromwich. Kwame Anthony Appiah. Steven Weinberg. Garry Wills. Jeffrey Sachs. Plus a blog post by Christopher Benfey: The Empty Chair That Keeps Me Awake at Night.
Holt’s philosophers belong to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Compared with the giants of the past, they are a sorry bunch of dwarfs. They are thinking deep thoughts and giving scholarly lectures to academic audiences, but hardly anybody in the world outside is listening. They are historically insignificant. At some time toward the end of the nineteenth century, philosophers faded from public life. Like the snark in Lewis Carroll’s poem, they suddenly and silently vanished. So far as the general public was concerned, philosophers became invisible. [more inside]
"This technology cannot simply substitute for the great libraries of the present. After all, libraries are not just repositories of books. They are communities, sources of expertise, and homes to lovingly compiled collections that amount to far more than the sum of their individual printed parts. Their physical spaces, especially in grand temples of learning like the NYPL, subtly influence the way that reading and writing takes place in them. And yet it is foolish to think that libraries can remain the same with the new technology on the scene. The Bookless Library, by David Bell (print ready version). [more inside]
What to Make of Finnegans Wake? by Michael Chabon
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove edited The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry, released in October. Harvard professor and critic Helen Vendler objects to Dove's choices; Dove reacts (and Vendler, succinctly, replies, "I have written the review and I stand by it.") and so do other critics, with charges of racism and, relatedly, too narrow a view of poetic traditions. [more inside]
"We are under more of a moral obligation to try very very very hard to develop compassion and mercy and empathy."
How We Know. An essay about information theory in the New York Review of Books by Freeman Dyson, building off a review of James Gleick's The Information. [more inside]
The Cavafy Archive has translations of all of C. P. Cavafy's poems (go here for the Greek) except for the 30 unfinished poems, which have just recently been translated into English for the first time by Daniel Mendelsohn. His translations are reviewed in a lengthy essay by Peter Green in the most recent New Republic. Mendelsohn was interviewed on NPR's All Things Considered earlier this week. Late last year Mendelsohn wrote an essay about Cavafy in The New York Review of Books. The Cavafy Archive also has translations of a few prose pieces by Cavafy as well as manuscripts, pictures, translated letters & short texts and a catalog of Cavafy's library.
"What Have We Learned, If Anything?" Historian Tony Judt in the NYRB wonders if we have forgotten the lessons of the 20th century.
When Most Of The Reviews (And Indeed Books) Are Long Since Forgotten, David Levine's extraordinary portraits of the public figures and obsessions of the last 40 years will stand as a lasting impression of our literary and political lions, masters, avatars and bugbears. The generous and ever essential New York Review of Books offers us a complete and fully searchable gallery of the great caricaturist's work since its first issue hit the stands back in 1963 - almost 2,000 cartoons in all. It's fascinating to trace the sequence and evolution of Levine's drawings through the years of particular figures: Nabokov and Beckett, for instance.
Compulsory reading for the 'American Civil War was fought over states' rights' crowd.
Very good election analysis by Joan Didion in the current NYRB. (More inside.)