Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 2:03 pm
Cranky technophobe Huw is in a bad way. It's centuries into the future, self-aware technology has formed a "singularity" — a floating superbrain cloud in the upper atmosphere — and his parents have already uploaded to it, leaving their bodies behind. Even household items literally have minds of their own. Huw's only consolation is that he has been summoned to a kind of jury duty, evaluating a new technology the superbrain has suggested, so at least he'll have the satisfaction of saying no if he thinks the new machine is too dangerous to let loose on Earth.
Writer Zadie Smith burst onto the literary scene with her first novel White Teeth more than a decade ago. Set in the Northwest London neighborhood where she grew up, White Teeth captured the diverse, vibrant rhythms of a city in transition. Smith returns to the neighborhood in her new novel, NW, but this is a sobering homecoming.
On Monday, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan told a campaign rally audience in North Carolina that "the president can say a lot of things, but he can't tell you you are better off." Later that day in Detroit, Vice President Joe Biden responded "America is better off today than they left us."
New York Times Washington bureau chief David Leonhardt argues that both Ryan and Biden are right: It's partly semantics.
Zadie Smith wrote her last novel On Beauty seven years ago — a long time in the anxious world of publishing. Her new novel NW was released in the U.S. on Monday. Critic Maureen Corrigan asks: Was it worth the wait?
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Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 8:55 am
When a consummately articulate, boundlessly bold journalist stricken with stage 4 esophageal cancer reports from the front lines about facing what he calls, among other things, "hello darkness my old friend," you sit up and pay attention. Mortality, by virtue of its ultimate unavoidability, raises questions about the very meaning of life, making it as challenging a subject as any tackled by Christopher Hitchens in his brilliant career. It is, in fact, one of the subjects, right up there with love, and you can count on Hitchens to eschew weak-kneed sentimentality.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 7:26 am
I was once known among my friends as the queen of desserts. OK, maybe that's an exaggeration, but I was at least the bringer of desserts. My circle of friends hosted frequent dinner parties, but my tiny apartment made entertaining any more than a couple of guests impossible. To make up for that, I always offered to bring a contribution. While I preferred appetizers, the day came when a friend asked for a dessert. With some trepidation, I complied. I have no idea what that first dessert was, but it was a hit. My fate was sealed.
Yoram Hazony founded the Shalem Institute in Jerusalem in 1994. He is currently president of the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Shalem Center, and head of the institute's project in Jewish Philosophical Theology.
Hebrew scripture is a "message in a bottle," says Yoram Hazony, and in The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture, he tries to decipher that message. Hazony's new book makes the case for a different reading of the ancient texts — and argues that the Hebrew Bible is a work of philosophy in narrative form.
Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 4:38 pm
In Girl Model, an alarming documentary about the trafficking of Russian child models to the Japanese fashion market, a garrulous modeling agent explains his philosophy: To expiate his own past bad behavior, he says with papal solemnity, he approaches model recruitment as a religious calling, not to mention a fatherly responsibility to do right by the girls, give them a better life than they have now and protect them from harm.