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Reading, Looking, Listening, . . . Questioning
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Bakewell on Sartre: “Of course, he was monstrous. He was self-indulgent, demanding, bad-tempered. … I disagree with quite a lot in Sartre. But then there is the question of ‘character’—and Sartre is full of character. He bursts out on side sides with energy, peculiarity, generosity, and communicativeness.”

By Walter Cummins Review of At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails by Sarah Bakewell (New York: Other Press, 2016)   One reason Sarah Bakewell’s The Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails is such an engaging read was her decision to organize her examination of philosophy around the lives of the central […]

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Portrait of Marie-Olympe de Gouges, painted by Alexander Kucharsky (1741-1819), private collection

The French Revolution, the Declaration, and Olympe de Gouges’s Rights of Woman By Emily Sosolik   Homme, es-tu capable d’être juste ? C’est une femme qui t’en fait la question ; tu ne lui ôteras pas moins ce droit. Dis-moi ? Qui t’a donné le souverain empire d’opprimer mon sexe ? Ta force ? Tes […]

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fig. 8 Monet: Water Lilies 1907

Creating a Contemplation Space for Artistic Creation Pierre Loti’s Essays on Japanese Temple Art as a Key to Claude Monet’s Water Garden   By Richard M. Berrong   Though there is no evidence that Claude Monet and French novelist Pierre Loti ever met, these almost exact contemporaries developed similarly Impressionist styles.[1] They also, and probably […]

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A man reacts amid debris after what activists said were explosive barrels thrown by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Al-Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo April 27, 2014. REUTERS/Hosam Katan  (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR3MTUG

  All I can manage this morning is an expression of disgust and despair. Yesterday morning, half a day or so before news of Paris began to reverberate around the world, the Los Angeles Times published an op-ed piece by Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch. The piece was about the opening of multilateral […]

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cafe au lait

Paris: Nothing Like It, Nothing Better   In recent days, I’ve spent time formatting a book titled Paris, Etc., edited by Jessie Vail Aufiery. Jessie lived in Paris for a number of years with her French husband and their twin daughters. My immersion in poems, stories, and essays steeped in Parisian details, venues, attitudes, and […]

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cocteau man ray wire sculpture

In 1949, the French writer, artist, and filmmaker Jean Cocteau wrote a few lines about French politics at that time, lines that might help Americans today view their own political battles with more optimism than usual. In my translation: I know well that in 1949 politics are a big deal and the clashes of different […]

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B6xct0_IgAA_aR6HollandeCharlieHebdo

  With all France stunned and sickened by the assassinations at Charlie Hebdo magazine, the political establishment is scrambling to present the situation to its best advantage. A tweet from the French President at the Elysée Palace, reproduced in Vanity Fair, shows François Hollande on the phone. The subtitle says Obama expresses American solidarity. The […]

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kissing (biting)

    Some features of an ethics of tasting, good and bad By William Eaton [I]t is muttered that whenever any government wants to dupe the peasants, it promises the abolition of the wine tax, and as soon as it has duped the peasants, it retains or reintroduces the wine tax. In the wine tax […]

Essay
manet dead torreador

    In The French Generation of 1820 Alan Spitzer writes, using an image from Balzac, of “hungry young provincials competing in the Paris arena like fifty thousand spiders in a pot . . . all tortured by the discrepancy between boundless ambition and constricted opportunity.” He quotes a translation of le Comte de Rambuteau’s warning to […]

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A Syrian man holds lifeless body of his son, killed by Syrian Army, Aleppo, Syria, October 3, 2013, photo by Manu Brabo - AP

    In The French Generation of 1820 Alan Spitzer writes, using an image from Balzac, of “hungry young provincials competing in the Paris arena like fifty thousand spiders in a pot . . . all tortured by the discrepancy between boundless ambition and constricted opportunity.” He quotes a translation of le Comte de Rambuteau’s warning to […]

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February 8, 2017

How does the slogan “man is a wolf to man” fit in with your later, somewhat hopeful image of camaraderie in the class struggle? I mean, if your starting assessment of human nature is correct, then doesn’t the class struggle actually come down to one group of savage beasts fighting another, the exploited class merely comprising those wolves with less opportunity to express their lupine ferocity? And don’t the exploiters no less than the exploited regularly turn against one another, so that besides the strife of classes, there is also the strife of each wolf against every other wolf? Wha...

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Beyoncé

    In The French Generation of 1820 Alan Spitzer writes, using an image from Balzac, of “hungry young provincials competing in the Paris arena like fifty thousand spiders in a pot . . . all tortured by the discrepancy between boundless ambition and constricted opportunity.” He quotes a translation of le Comte de Rambuteau’s warning to […]

Article

December 13, 2016

Any doubts I may have had have been thoroughly quashed.

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Bakewell on Sartre: “Of course, he was monstrous. He was self-indulgent, demanding, bad-tempered. … I disagree with quite a lot in Sartre. But then there is the question of ‘character’—and Sartre is full of character. He bursts out on side sides with energy, peculiarity, generosity, and communicativeness.”

    In The French Generation of 1820 Alan Spitzer writes, using an image from Balzac, of “hungry young provincials competing in the Paris arena like fifty thousand spiders in a pot . . . all tortured by the discrepancy between boundless ambition and constricted opportunity.” He quotes a translation of le Comte de Rambuteau’s warning to […]

Review

November 29, 2016

What a nice review ! I've read Bakewell and admire her courage and skill in mixing biography and philosophy in such an attractive way -- and I admire your skill in presenting the figures and themes of existentialism in an equally attractive way ! Mazel tov !

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