Issue 6

An Annotated Table of Contents

At the edge of a vast nothingness

Matt Vanderzalm, At the Edge of a Vast Nothingness, 2011

LETTER

On Food

“Nobody cares if you know about Mozart or Leonardo anymore, but you had better be able to discuss the difference between ganache and couverture.”

ESSAYS

A Plea for Human Food [Charles Comey]

The fact that the most conspicuous change to our diet after agriculture concerned our intake of starch and sugar was not lost on health professionals at the time that these discoveries were made. Furthermore the idea that it was carbohydrates, not protein or fat, that were the chief culprit, fit with the evidence that came in from people living with the super-healthy Masai, who eat exclusively blood, milk and meat; or the Inuit, some of whom get close to 99 percent of their calories from animals. To take one example, there was not a single known case of breast cancer anywhere among the Inuit until 1966—and yes, they were looking for it.

Out with the New: Simon Reynolds’s Retromania [Ben Jeffery]

It seems incredibly unlikely that nothing has been made in Western pop in the last ten years that couldn’t have been made in some earlier decade. But compared to the quantum leaps in style that used to occur periodically (think about how far away rock ’n’ roll is from acid house) there is a remarkable dearth of what might be called “macro-scale” innovation: cultural explosions such as hip-hop in the 1980s or rave in the 1990s—scenes that not only centered on formally innovative music, but which inspired whole ways of life and distinct subcultures among significant chunks of the population. … The flipside to this phenomenon, in Reynolds’s words, is retromania itself: “the vastly increased presence in our lives of old pop culture.”

Socialism we can Believe in [Jonny Thakkar]

The problem was that neither Obama nor Occupy was able to give the idea of fraternity any real substance. For Obama, it seemed to imply campaign contributions; for Occupy, endless discussions. Neither could connect it to the imperatives of our changing economic climate or to the day-to-day decisions and actions that together constitute society. This, not their idealism, was their failing. If fraternity is to be more than a utopian fantasy or a pious palliative, it will need to find expression in an ethic that can be lived out in everyday life, in institutions that are within our grasp, in a vision of a future radically better than the present yet recognizably rooted in its conditions.

My Job Search: A Millennial Looks for Work [Emilie Shumway]

The career books like to pretend that the job hunt is a rational game, one that responds predictably to certain stimuli. This is like saying that if you have clean teeth, smell good, and say nice things on a date, your date will like you. But you typically go into both situations without knowing your counterparts’ past experiences, pet peeves, sympathies and physical preferences. Knock ‘em Dead Cover Letters won’t help a whit if someone doesn’t feel good about the way you half-smile or sweat through your button-up.

Dictionary of Received Ideas: American Politics Addendum [Justin Evans]

Recent research has discovered—pace the old authoritarian certainties of the past—that, like men & women, homosexuals & bisexuals & heterosexuals, blacks & whites, the peoples of the various political parties in fact have different epistemologies, so that, just as all truths are only truths for someone, so political truths are likewise for someone.

SYMPOSIUM: WHAT ARE ANIMALS FOR?

Cave Trout [Fabien Tepper]

Moral battles over how humans should treat other animals are usually waged between those who defend our right to use natural resources and those who defend animals’ right to live free of exploitation; the two sides, unsurprisingly, argue on different terms. They remain entrenched because lives and traditions are at stake, and because each is rooted in a fundamental truth.

On Killing Animals [Gary Francione]

How can an animal rights group kill any animals, much less kill more animals than plain- vanilla shelters that have no pretense to being animal rights organizations?

Using Animals [Heather Keenleyside]

Domestic relations (between an infant and her first possession, between a nomad and his horse) call for ethical paradigms that are sensitive to conditions of dependence, vulnerability and embodied life, to scenes of work and play as well as of potentially non-destructive, even ethical forms of use.

Getting Animals in View [Christine M. Korsgaard]

Most people would agree that it is wrong to hurt or kill a non-human animal without a good reason, but then it turns out that any reason, short of malicious pleasure, is reason enough.

Imagination and Advocacy [Alice Crary]

In one passage, Safran Foer presents a traditional Filipino recipe for stewed dog. Just before this passage, Safran Foer has been describing scenes from his life with his own pet dog George.

Children and Animals [David Egan]

Most stories written for children between the age of learning to speak and the age of doubting Santa Claus seem to feature animals that talk, wear clothes, and inhabit human-like family and social structures. Why?

REVIEWS

Mad Men [Jacob Mikanowski]

The outward beauty of Mad Men can suggest a certain moral glibness. But beneath its layers of vintage décor and television cliché, Mad Men is a story about history, and possibly the closest thing we have in the culture to a historical epic.

Further Evidence [Luc Sante]

There is something uncannily familiar about this view. It’s as if you’ve been here before.

Rootabaga Country [Megan Pugh]

Carl Sandburg was once an icon on the order of Mark Twain, but these days he can seem like a mere footnote in American literary history. To critics committed to the heroics of modernist experimentation, Sandburg’s poetry is embarrassingly sentimental, a relic of overwrought populism that reads like a bad imitation of Whitman.

Burning Man [Clarisse Thorn]

From the top of Pipe Dream, we gaze over the playa and the developing city. The streets are lined with teahouses and cinemas; everything lights up at night. There are lots of geodesic domes and, less romantically, RVs. The Man stands at the center atop a structure several stories tall. Most everything becomes more enormous and fantastical toward that looming figure.

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