• Blessed Are the Losers

    For the most part, the Coen brothers don't seem particularly interested in the stories of those who come in first place. They appear to be more preoccupied by those who come in last. They don't even seem to be as inspired by a good old-fashioned "underdog" parable as most people are. (If the Coens told the story of David and Goliath, the little shepherd boy would definitely not have been the victor.) How many other filmmakers can you think of that consistently make their movies about losers rather than winners?

  • Karl Marx’s Letter to Abraham Lincoln

    Wait ... what??? One of the challenges of teaching world history is that events unfold in both time and space. Focus on what was happening all around the world at a given time, and you lose the ability to tell a clear story. But focus on a story as it unfolded in a particular place (say America, France, China or Russia), and you risk putting history into silos.

  • On Rembrandt, Boredom, Chalk Art, and the Ozarks

    For our readers’ enjoyment, we will be periodically passing on a set of links from journals, newspapers, like-minded blogs or other sources – a small compendium of items from the world wide web that have struck us over the course of the past few weeks. Enjoy our first offerings below!

  • The Moviegoer: Suburbia, the Search, and Binx Bolling’s Existential Homelessness

    The movies tend to conceive of despair, as they do of love, in terms of external obstacles that are overcome, end-of-story. So they gloss over our existential amnesia, and they confuse our actual despair (our wrong relation to God, self, and world) with felt despair. As Binx Bolling sees it, this apparent comedy is really the tragedy of man accustomed to despair. The man may have regained the world, but it turned out he never had a soul if his predicament is reducible to [re]obtaining the American Dream.