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Posts Tagged ‘Stanley Cavell’

What We’re Loving: Screwball, Gothic, and Southern, to Name a Few

December 6, 2013 | by

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“We all find we cannot take on any more patients. We are all waiting for calls from superiors, pick up the phones each time hoping it is one of them, then find it is only another patient. The superiors of course think of us as patients and dread our calls.” Last Sunday I spent the hours between five and eleven A.M. finishing Renata Adler’s 1983 novel Pitch Dark, and they were the best four solid hours of my week. Thanks to NYRB Classics, which recently reissued Pitch Dark and Adler’s earlier novel, Speedboat, Adler is coming to be recognized as one of the great novelists of our time, on the strength of two slim books. Until now I had avoided Pitch Dark because it has the lesser reputation, and because Speedboat seemed to me so perfect, I couldn’t imagine lightning striking twice. But Pitch Dark—the story of a breakup, and of a solitary vacation gone awry—has all the suspense of a mystery, all the wit and companionability of an essay, and all the satirical worldliness I loved in Speedboat. Adler should be required reading for M.F.A students, at the considerable risk of shutting young writers down for lack of anything to say. The rest of us can read her for pleasure. —Lorin Stein

When you think about it, there really are a startling number of remarriages in screwball comedies: His Girl Friday, My Favorite Wife, The Philadelphia Story, The Awful Truth—and those are just the films in which Cary Grant ends up with an ex-wife. The philosopher Stanley Cavell takes on this phenomenon in 1981’s Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage, and argues that the plot device was more than just a way to flirt with the Hays Code. As he writes, “Can human beings change? The humor, and the sadness, of remarriage comedies can be said to result from the fact that we have no good answer to that question.” —Sadie O. Stein

The Fargo Moorhead Observer reports that a Fargo man has been arrested for clearing snow with a flamethrower. The man stated that he was simply “fed up with battling the elements” and that he did not possess the willpower necessary to “move four billion tons of whitebullsh-t.” —John Jeremiah Sullivan Read More »

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Staff Picks: The Unseen Bestiary, The Avoidance of Love

August 26, 2011 | by

From ‘Monstrorum Historia,’ by Ulisse Aldrovandi, 1642.

Just in time for Borges’s birthday, Lindsey Carr is curating a collaborative art project documenting creatures that have never been seen. The project, The Unseen Bestiary, a sort of DIY Book of Imaginary Beings, is soliciting brief descriptions to accompany Carr’s drawings. —Mackenzie Beer

I’m rereading Stanley Cavell’s great essay on King Lear (and everything else), “The Avoidance of Love,” in preparation for what I’m told is another great essay, by Mark Greif, in the new issue of n+1. (Some lifetime subscription that turned out to be!) —Lorin Stein

I’ve been slowly working through the strikingly lyrical essays in City Dog this summer, so I was excited to see new poems by W. S. di Piero in the fall issue of ZYZZYVA. Something about them reminded me of the end of summer. “Starting Over” perfectly evoked that late-August feeling of everyone coming home: “here you are the nothing / that is the place, / and all the places are you, / none of them yours to keep.”  —Ali Pechman

I just learned everything I know about Batman from intern Cody, who puts the super back in superheroes. —L.S.

Since I realized that Spotify has such a great collection of Alan Lomax recordings, I’ve been totally hooked. —Sadie Stein

Moving books around in my house, I rediscovered my copy of Boulevard Transportation, a collaboration between Rudy Burckhardt and Vincent Katz. The former’s photographs—framing and juxtaposing country and city streets, architectural elements, faces—and the latter’s poetry—casual glances and delighted observations—are perfectly suited to each other. On one spread, Burckhardt’s closeup of reeds waving against sun-dappled water is set opposite this from Katz: “I put bare / feet to Terra / swim in the lake / all day long / there is nothing / to do / listen to wind in the trees.” —Nicole Rudick

I was one of those lame kids without a rock collection, but Léonard Rosenthal, famed 1920s Parisian jeweler and author of The Kingdom of the Pearl, has reformed me. If you aren’t sold on reading about rocks, check out the Edmund Dulac illustrations that originally accompanied the text. —M.B.

I’ve always felt more like a New Yorker than a Californian, but this video is amazing. — A.P.

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