Fight Stupidity; Keep Reading: A Dispatch from the Internationale Jugendbibliothek (on KSU English blog)

Over at Kansas State University’s English Department blog, I have a post on my three months at the Internationale Jugendbibliothek in Munich.  I’ll excerpt a little bit here (the first paragraph, and the conclusion) but go over there to read the whole thing (and to see more photos). Since the first of September I have…

The Meaning of Life; or, How to Avoid the Midlife Crisis

Why do successes sometimes feel like failures? As philosopher Kieran Setiya points out in a wise new essay, “Our achievements, whatever they are worth, are always numbered” (10). Each time we accomplish something, it’s done, finished, and we must move on to the next thing: “the completion of your project may constitute something of value,…

25 Years After; or, 10 Things I Learned at My High School Reunion

I am not nostalgic for my high school years.  As a teen, I was acutely self-conscious, chronically insecure, often depressed.  Yes, I also experienced a wider range of emotions (including joy and laughter) during those years, but my dominant impression of teen-age-hood is gratitude at having survived it. But I returned for my 25th reunion…

On Friendship

If you enjoy maxims or reflecting on how to sustain healthy friendships, then Timothy Billings’ translation of Matteo Ricci’s On Friendship: One Hundred Maxims for a Chinese Prince (Columbia UP, 2009) will appeal to you.  Written in 1595, the book helped Ricci — a native of Macerata, Italy — make friends and (as Billings says in his extensive and…