Reading: 9-15 June 2013 (ZiR)

Photo by Jennifer Dean

Photo by Jennifer Dean

Jennifer Dean, Zeteo Contributor

[One in an ongoing series of posts. For the full series see Zeteo is Reading.]

11 June 2013

Read an article on “the ultimate apartment scam” in The New Yorker (“Crowded House” by Tad Friend) – an incredible profile examining various personalities and a story that seems only possible in New York City (although that may be my bias having experienced what seemed like the craziest apartment hunt when I first arrived in this jungle of a city). My favorite line from this piece which exemplifies this:

And in this, too, he represented Manhattan, the city that in dreams works beautifully and in daily life is a brutal gantlet.

 12 June 2013

Tony Kushner’s Fick oder Kaputt! What a fantastic essay on intimacy and biology. Part of his collection Thinking of the Longstanding Problems of Virtue. Food for thought:

In sex you swallow maybe a quart of someone else’s spit.

13 June 2013

Another Tony Kushner essay today. This one appears in Thinking of the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and as an Afterword for Angels in America – Part Two: Perestroika. In With A Little Help From My Friends Kushner delves into the contradictions of the collaborative nature of theatre and the individual ego of the artist while simultaneously delving into collective politics and the society of the individual in the United States. As with the play that comes before the afterword there are many layers in this little essay.

Anyone interested in exploring alternatives to Individualism and the political economy it serves, capitalism, has to be willing to ask hard questions about the ego, both as abstraction and as exemplified in oneself.


We pay high prices for the maintenance of the myth of the Individual: we have no system of universal health care, we don’t educate our children, we can’t pass sane gun control laws, we elect presidents like Reagan, we hate and fear inevitable processes like aging and death, and on and on. Way down close to the bottom of the list of the evils Individualism visits on our culture are previewing playwrights suffering paroxysms of mortification and rage, caught up myopically, claustrophobically, sometimes catastrophically, in the dramas of their selves.

This was of course written almost twenty years ago but is reminiscent of the 2012 presidential election debate of Obama’s “you didn’t build that” (the individual needs the community to prosper) verses Romney’s “You built it” (the individual succeeds on their own merits and should not have to acknowledge collaborators in their success) – and could not help but make me think of how core philosophical issues in the world evolve but often stay the same.

14 June 2013

I do not regularly find myself agreeing with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas – but was in complete agreement when I read this quote in the New York Times article Justices, 9-0, Bar Patenting Human Genes:

“Myriad did not create anything,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court. “To be sure, it found an important and useful gene, but separating that gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an act of invention.”

Thank you Supreme Court Justices for upholding the definition of invention!

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