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Archive for the ‘Nietzsche’ Category

This Week In Music: The Muffs Final Album Is A Profile In Courage By Leader Kim Shattuck – Deadline

Posted: October 20, 2019 at 9:04 am


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The courageous story of how Kim Shattack and The Muffs collaborated to produce their final album, No Holiday,is one of the great tales of perseverance in the face of overwhelming obstacles. Yahoo! Musics Lyndsey Parker crafts the tale of how Shattuck, who suffered from ALS and couldnt move or talk near the end, still managed to direct her band mates and some hired guns toward the albums completion.

Elsewhere, possible new music from Coldplay after a long hiatus, the death of a prominent executive and resignation of another, and a story of bullying by a famed coach and broadcaster on a rock legend surfaced.

This week in music:

THE MUFFS FINAL ALBUM: Kim Shattuck, the frontwoman for The Muffs was died earlier this month at age 56, was battling ALS (sometimes called Lou Gehrigs disease) over her last two years. But she was determined to finish the bands final album, even though she couldnt move or sing. Yahoo! Music delivered a fascinating tale of how the album was completed, even as Shattuck communicated with a device using her eye movements.

Related StoryKim Shattuck Dies: Leader Of The Muffs And LA Music Stalwart Was 56

BROADCASTER BULLIED JANIS JOPLIN: Ex-Dallas Cowboys coach and now Fox Sports NFL broadcaster Jimmy Johnson bullied singer Janis Joplin while they were students at a Texas high school, according to a new book. Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren (Simon & Schuster) is out Tuesday, detailing how Johnson and his friends mocked Joplin for her beatnik attire and attitude. He and his jock crew allegedly groped Joplin and spread rumors that shed slept with their friends because she looked and acted weird, the book claims. Johnson admitted as much in his own 1994 memoir, saying Janis looked and acted so weird that when we were around her, mostly in the hallways at school, we would give her a hard time.

BEN COOK RESIGNS FOR BAD COSTUME: Atlantic Records UK president Ben Cook, who brought Ed Sheeran to the label, resigned in the wake of renewed complaints over his decision to dress as a member of Run-DMC at a birthday party. Cook said it was a terrible mistake to adopt the look for the party, which asked guests to come as their favorite music icon. There was no word whether he adopted blackface as part of the costume.

NEW MUSIC FROM COLDPLAY? The band, dormant since 2015 (under its own name, at least) has issued a short clip of what could be a new song and short video that shows the date November 22, 1919. The photo that comes with the clip shows the band sitting next to German philosopher Nietzsche, who died in 1900. If a new album appears, it would be the first since an EP under the alias Los Unidades, which featured Chris Martin, Will Berryman, Guy Champion and Jonny Buckland.

JAY FRANK PASSES: Universal Senior VP Jay Frank, a digital music veteran, died this week at age 47 of cancer. UMG chief Lucian Grainge remembered him in a message sent to the company. Dear Colleagues, it reads. Im deeply saddened to tell you that our colleague and friendJay Frankhas passed after a recurrence of cancer. Professionally, Jay leaves an immense legacy. He was a creative and tireless leader who made significant contributions to the evolution of our global marketing efforts. Many of the ways we market our artists and their music in the streaming era stems from Jays innovative work. But more than anything else, Jay was a loving father and husband. We send our deepest condolences to all his family.

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This Week In Music: The Muffs Final Album Is A Profile In Courage By Leader Kim Shattuck - Deadline

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5 Reasons Nine Inch Nails Should Be in the Rock Hall of Fame – Ultimate Classic Rock

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A pasty-skinned keyboardist from Ohio is probably the last person youd expect to lead a rock revolution. But thats the beauty of Trent Reznor and his one-man band, Nine Inch Nails. Their arrival, and massive commercial success, was completely unexpected, yet it continues to resonate more than three decades after it began.

Beginning with their 1989 debut albumPretty Hate Machine, Nine Inch Nails have forged a long and storied career. The band was one of the 90s most successful rock bands and has maintained its popularity in the ensuing decades. More than 20 million albums sold and multiple Grammy Awards are among their many accomplishments.

After previous nominations in 2014 and 15, Nine Inch Nails again find themselves among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees. Here are five reasons why the band deserves to be inducted.

The seeds of industrial rock were planted in the 70s by avant-garde artists like Throbbing Gristle. However the genre, which mixes electronic elements with the raw aggression of punk, remained on the outskirts of society for two decades before Nine Inch Nails brought it to the masses. The key was Reznors ability to craft hauntingly catchy tunes within the framework of industrial rock. This wasnt just sound for the sake of sound, but rather a carefully arranged tapestry of forceful, hypnotic noise.

David Bowie, in a piece for Rolling Stone, summed up Reznors unique talent: Trent's music, built as it is on the history of industrial and mechanical sound experiments, contains a beauty that attracts and repels in equal measure: Nietzsche's 'God is dead' to a nightclubbing beat. And always lifted, at the most needy moment, by a tantalizing melody.

Bowie is one of the many acclaimed music industry veterans to have sung Nine Inch Nails' praises, comparing Reznors work to that of Brian Eno and the Velvet Underground. The Thin White Duke and Nine Inch Nails toured together in 1995 and later collaborated on the remix of Bowie's 1997 single Im Afraid of Americans. Another music icon, Johnny Cash, chose to cover Nine Inch Nails Hurt for his album American IV: The Man Comes Around. The track became a surprise hit, earning a Grammy, MTV Video Award and CMA Award.

Producer Bob Ezrin -- known for his work with Kiss, Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd --called Reznor a true visionary who has broken and reinvented the rules of engagement on every level, from recording to touring to interacting with his fans.

In 1997, Timemagazine named Reznor one of its 25 Most Influential Americans. Reznor wields the muscular power of Industrial rock not with frat-boy swagger but with a brooding, self-deprecating intelligence, the periodical noted, adding that the musician gave a voice to the Generation Y subculture.

Indeed, Reznors influence on fans went far beyond album sales. Nine Inch Nails music videos saw regular rotation on MTV. Their dark, even sadistic themes, stood in stark contrast to things like the Spice Girls and Britney Spears, who were also popular at the time. The NIN logo became ubiquitous in the 90s, appearing on t-shirts, poster art and patches on almost every high-schoolers backpack. The logo was so popular that 20 years later it would be incorporated into Captain Marvel, the superhero film set in the 90s. Even as Reznor and his first generation of fans have aged, there remains a strong connection. The musician has penned the scores to many successful films, including The Social Network (2010), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) and Bird Box (2018). Though not officially Nine Inch Nails projects, they reflect the continuing emotional resonance his music has with the public.

In the studio, Reznor is known for his wizardry, routinely pushing the boundaries of acoustic and synthetic sounds to create a style all his own. The rocker was also at the forefront of music in gaming, composing the score to the 1996 video game Quake. Reznor would take things a step further in 2007 when he created an alternate reality game to accompany Nine Inch Nails Year Zero LP.

An advocate for musics digital revolution, Reznor previously encouraged fans to download his music illegally and later gave away his 2008 album, The Slip, for free. His voyages into the world of digital music delivery eventually led Reznor to join Beats Music in 2012, taking the role of Chief Creative Officer. He became part of Apple Musics executive team in 2014 when Beats was acquired by the computer giant, remaining with the company until 2018.

One album does not make a Hall of Fame career, no matter how good it is. Nine Inch Nails have an impressive catalog of music spanning two decades and nine studio albums. Still, the importance of their sophomore LP The Downward Spiral cannot be overstated. The release was a game changer, with critics calling it a full-on noise attack, the ultimate, purist form of self-expression and noting that its release reshaped the world for millions of high school kids. The Downward Spiral continues to be praised as a seminal LP and has appeared on multiple lists of the greatest albums of all-time. Its success opened the door for many other like-minded industrial acts of the 90s, including Marlyn Mason, White Zombie, Filter and the Prodigy.

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5 Reasons Nine Inch Nails Should Be in the Rock Hall of Fame - Ultimate Classic Rock

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October 20th, 2019 at 9:04 am

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Advice column: Existence is hard and were all stumbling through it – SB Nation

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Welcome to Couldnt Be Me, a weekly advice column where I solicit your personal dilemmas and help out as best as I can. Have something I can help you with? Find me @_Zeets.

Again, we come back to the problem of the meaning of life. I dont think there will ever be an answer to the eternal question. There is abundant scholarship on it, too much to be condensed into a single advice column. The despair that comes from the absurdity of living has probably been present since the first humans became aware of themselves.

But there are paths open to us beyond nihilism. This week, we explore some of the ways that one might find value in life even without believing in a higher power, or that theres a meaning to it all.

Pat:

This may be a bit too general for your advice column, but I figured Id ask anyway. Im struggling with finding motivation when I feel like the world has no meaning. I dont believe in a higher power at all, and I believe there is no real reason that we are here. It should be a freeing feeling in the fact that I can assign significance to what I deem important, but I have a hard time getting that concept to click. The feeling that life has no meaning makes it much harder to get the motivation to push on in doing things like running, reading for my classes, etc. I see a therapist once a week and we work on it, but I was wondering if you have any advice on coping with this on a day-to-day basis?

CBM:

Ive answered this a few times already, but theres no harm in going again.

This is one of the longest-running questions in human history. You have a pretty nihilistic view on life and its lack of meaning, and you seem to have fallen into the hole of despair. It might be time to read Nietzsche, who deals with this same problem, and go forward from there.

But I dont think that one needs to become someone who can create their own values by force of will. I especially dont believe that any human being could bear such responsibility, which I think is one of the foundations for your unhappiness. Its too much to be the one who assigns significance to the world. You dont have to believe in God, but you also dont have to replace him with yourself.

I think Sartes existence precedes essence the idea that self-making-in-a-situation, and Heideggers refinement, that a human is an entity whose essence is precisely to be and nothing but to be is a good starting point towards solving the problem of greater meaning.

I have some frustration with the problem of meaning and how we tend to think about it. When we speak about meaning, we seem to be searching for a grand destination, so we can determine what are the useful actions of life, and what about the way we live is useless. Life becomes a matter of wanting to win the game of it.

Thats such a diseased way of thinking about the meaning of life. We fall into despair when we dont reach the stage of victory for some definition of what it means to be a man, a woman, a writer, a lover, a person, and so on. I know that life must have its limits, and we have to create a framework for the type of people that we want to be. But it seems that rather than accepting the dynamism of life and ourselves as individuals, we want to make a straightforward job of it all. And thats just so boring.

I think what you need to do, first, is try to understand that life and people are valuable by nature of their existence, rather than things to be assigned value. Bestowing value on aspects of life will inevitably lead you into determining what is useful or not, and who is useful or not, which will lead to what is productive and what is not.

One of my favorite things about grand myths is that trees are sacred in most of them. The stories always seem to start with a great tree: gig r fa, Aa Ana, Modun, Yggdrasil, Iroko, Jianmu, and so on. We are not trees, but I like what trees say about life. Trees just exist, and are valuable just by being so. Yes, trees give out oxygen and are important to humans in that regard, as they are important to wildlife by providing shelter. They might even be chopped down to be used to build things. Theres so much you can do with a tree. You can even build the myth of a people around them. But all of those values are extraneous. A tree grows because a tree is planted, and exists within the ecosystem of the world, where each individual tree is essential to maintaining life while at the same time nearly inconsequential in a grand sense. A tree doesnt grow for any purpose. It just grows to be a tree. That is its value. The rest comes after.

So I would say theres no need to assign significance to things. Youre not trying to win at life. Things in life are valuable because they are part of life. Even if life has no grand meaning, that value doesnt evaporate. Rather than try to give meaning to things, it might be time to think of the things that you enjoy the most. Then of course, you can determine what kind of life you want to live, and build towards that. Hopefully you can also allow yourself room for failure and confusion, because existence is hard and were all stumbling through it.

Jess:

How does one escape the isolation, loneliness and depression that comes with being a job seeker?

CBM:

I quit a job once, and rather than find a new one right away, I chose to remain unemployed. I wanted to break the mindset that my job constituted who I am, and the anxiety of feeling useless if most of your time isnt put into some form of labor.

Im not saying that working isnt important and cant be a route to happiness, but it felt unhealthy that it was so central to my idea of self.

During that unemployment period, I did all the things that I have always loved but couldnt do when I was working so much. I started becoming the ideal version of myself that I always said I would try to be if I had more time and more energy. I wrote every day. I went to museums. I read a lot. I walked by the water. I ate too much ice cream. Traveled a bit. I just had to yank my self-worth away from my productivity in the professional world, which seems to be at the heart of so many bad feelings about not having a job.

Job searches are definitely lonely and depressing endeavors, but I would advise you to spend whatever time you have between jobs doing the things that make you happy. Create, or work towards your non-professional identity.

Short:

Hows the story writing going?

CBM:

This is aggressive. Please refrain from attacking me like this in the future. Im an artist. What matters is not how things are going or how far along I am, but the quality of the work at the end. Whenever that end may be.

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Advice column: Existence is hard and were all stumbling through it - SB Nation

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October 20th, 2019 at 9:04 am

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Educational Opportunities, Nietzsche and Archaeology of Freiburg – Mirage News

Posted: October 15, 2019 at 1:42 am


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In the 2019/2020 winter semester the University of Freiburgs Studium Generale is once again putting on a range of lecture series, panel discussions, readings, concerts and courses offering students, teachers and members of the public an interdisciplinary insight into various fields of knowledge.

This winter, the Saturday Uni will be looking at questions such as What does education mean today? What ideas and cultural convictions are at work in this concept? What is the state of educational opportunities in Germany? Speakers such as Aleida Assmann, last year winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, Jrgen Kaube, publisher of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Prof. Dr. Peter-Andr Alt, President of the German Rectors Conference, will be answering these and other questions. Events will begin on Saturday 26 October 2019, at 11:15 with the lecture Bildung im Wissenschaftszeitalter: Die Vorsokratiker und die moderne Physik (Education in the scientific age: the pre-Socratics and modern physics) by Prof. Dr. Josef Honerkamp from the University of Freiburgs Institute of Physics.

Some familiar Studium Generale lecture series will also be returning this winter semester, including the dialogue format Bcher, ber die man spricht (Books people talk about) and Gesprche ber aktuelle Inszenierungen (Discussing contemporary staging). In addition the program will include new opportunities to broaden horizons and gain insight into different specializations. For instance, the Nietzsches Philosophien (Nietzsches philosophies) lecture series considers the thoughts of Friedrich Nietzsche, his interaction with other philosophers and his influence on the modern age from different perspectives. And in the freiburg.archologie (Freiburg archaeology) series, which will be held in cooperation with Baden-Wrttembergs museums and the state office for the preservation of monuments in parallel with an exhibition of the same name, enthusiasts can join in with the 900th anniversary of the city and enter into a dialogue with experts in the archaeology of Freiburg.

At the same time, with its individual lectures and lecture series, panel discussions, debates, film series and guided tours, the sister program Colloquium Politicum will also offer plenty of opportunity to consider fundamental questions of German and international politics as well as contemporary economic and social problems.

Program of the Studium Generale

Program of the Colloquium Politicum

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Educational Opportunities, Nietzsche and Archaeology of Freiburg - Mirage News

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Newman is the antidote to Nietzsche – Catholic Herald Online

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I first came across the name John Henry Newman in primary school. The hymns Firmly I Believe and Truly and Praise to the Holiest were often sung at our school Masses. Later when I was in secondary school I read his Apologia and The Idea of a University. At that time I understood that he was a very significant Victorian figure. I only came to appreciate that he is moreover an original theological thinker of great magnitude when I started to read German theology. The Germans love Newman!

Joseph Ratzinger described Newman as one of the heroes for his generation of seminarians. Newmans most significant publications, including the Grammar of Assent and Essay on the Development of Doctrine, were translated into German by Theodor Haecker, who was a friend of Hans and Sophie Scholl, the martyrs of the White Rose movement. It was actually Newmans work on conscience that inspired the White Rose students to resist the Nazis. Gottlieb Shngen, who was the young

Fr Ratzingers doctoral supervisor, wrote: Newman inspired us Germans as if he were one of ours and as if he had written especially for us, without this taking anything from his significance for the Christianity of England and the rest of the world. Ratzinger wrote: Newman taught us to think historically in theology; his teaching on conscience became an important foundation for theological personalism; and it was from Newman that we learned to understand the primacy of the pope.

For Newman, the pope was not an absolute monarch or dictator, but someone more like a constitutional monarch whose actions and judgments were circumscribed by a constitution. But in this case the constitution was Scripture and Tradition. Ratzinger also praised Newman for understanding the importance of doctrine. That is, as he expressed the principle: Christianity is based on the objectivity of dogma. It was precisely Newmans arrival at this conclusion that necessitated his break from Protestantism.

With his idea of conscience, Newman made a significant contribution to moral theology; with his treatment of the papacy, he developed a major topic in ecclesiology and helped to protect Catholics from embarrassing maximalist interpretations of the doctrine of papal infallibility. With his work on the development of doctrine, especially his criteria for distinguishing legitimate from illegitimate doctrinal developments, Newman addressed a contemporary hot issue in dogmatic theology, allowing that history plays a role in doctrinal development without jettisoning tradition and landing Catholics in the ditch of historical relativism.

Newman also made significant contributions to the field of theological anthropology with his emphasis on the importance of a pure heart for the love and reason relationship, and with his treatment of the illative sense (a mental faculty similar to intuition) in the faith and reason relationship. He also highlighted the place of the human imagination in spiritual development. The imagination had been a much neglected faculty of the human soul. Over the Christian centuries the intellect and will tended to get the lions share of academic analysis, but Newman understood the power of what is today called mythopoesis. There could be no CS Lewis or JRR Tolkien without a highly developed Christian imagination.

Newman also paid due attention to the heart as the site of the integration of all the souls faculties. Although some might assert that the heart is simply an organ that pumps blood around the body, what Newman called the heart was the place of integration within the human soul.

Just as some faculties of the soul are often over-looked, some transcendental properties of being (truth, goodness, beauty) can be neglected. Here too Newman was on to the problem and clearly understood the inter-relationship of all three and the indispensable importance of beauty in the liturgical context. He quite passionately opposed all forms of philistinism.

In many ways, but perhaps above all in his defence of beauty, and in his quest to integrate history into theology without falling into historical relativism, Newman was a precursor to two of the biggest names in 20th century Catholic theology: Hans Urs von Balthasar and Joseph Ratzinger. Like them he believed in the timelessness of truth.

Newman can also be read as an intellectual antidote to Nietzsche. As Shngen noted, Newman understood the problem of an ethical atheism. He understood that contemporary atheism had become a dogma, that is, a lived reality of which one is convinced and for which one is willing to die. Newman grasped that one cannot defeat this kind of atheism with logic, only with a counter-narrative, a counter-theological anthropology, a counter-Christian humanism that is more intoxicating than anything else on offer in the intellectual salons (and today one would add, in the pop culture magazines).

For all of these reasons and more, this Victorian saint is a Doctor of the Church for the postmodern 21st century.

Professor Tracey Rowland is the St John Paul II Chair in Theology at the University of Notre Dame (Australia)

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Newman is the antidote to Nietzsche - Catholic Herald Online

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4 Things To Know – Wahpeton Daily News

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1. This Day in History: In 1917, infamous spy Mata Hari was executed by a firing squad outside Paris. Read more about her on Page A3.

2. Evergreen UMC Fall Luncheon and Bazaar: 10:30a.m. to 1:30p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19. Homemade soup and BBQ will be available for $8, includes pie and beverage. Freshly made donuts, Grandmas Attic, Grandmas Pantry, along with crafts/sewing, will also be available.

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3. Author Meet and Greet: Author Jana Berndt (Finding Norm) will be at Dakota Coffee from 9-11a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19.

4. Todays Birthdays include philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900); The Godfather author Mario Puzo (1920-1999); automobile executive Lee Iacocca (1924-); Alice star Linda Lavin (1937-); actress-director Penny Marshall (1943-2018) and chef Emeril Lagasse (1959-)

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4 Things To Know - Wahpeton Daily News

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And This Week, the Masked Singer on The Masked Singer Is … – The Ringer

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He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. Friedrich Nietzsche

A beautiful thing happened on Wednesday night: The Washington Nationals won a playoff series, advancing to the NLCS for the first time since the franchise relocated to the nations capital in 2005. It was one of those tragicomic playoff curses that seemed impossible to quash, like the Toronto Raptors repeatedly getting spanked by LeBron James after buying into their own hype machine and DeMar DeRozans midrange game. Well, we know how the Raptors season endedand its only fitting that the Nationals breakthrough came during a season when the team barely scraped into the postseason at all. The Nats euphoria was a reminder that, simply, life can be surprisingly good sometimes. Leave it to The Masked Singer to bring me back down to earth.

Thankfully, I DVRd the singing competition so I could watch Clayton Kershaw implode for the umpteenth timebut Thursday morning, the costumed reckoning awaited me. Even though it feels like Ive been covering the second season of the show since the dawn of the millennium, we aresomehow, through alchemical means perhaps?only on Episode 3. The final four contestants whod yet to perform made their debuts this week: the Eagle, the Flower, the Penguin, and the Fox, with one elimination in the cards. (At which point the remaining contestants will hopefully compete in a Hell in a Cellstyle showdownand, sorry, I keep getting distracted by the show endlessly promoting WWEs SmackDown, but theres serious crossover potential here.)

At one point, host Nick Cannon said The Masked Singer is all pleasure and absolutely no guilt, which, aside from being a strange and unnecessary admission, didnt ring true. Let me explain: When the contestants are introduced for the first time, a graphic pops up displaying their strengths and weaknesseswhich is typically a play on the costume the anonymous celebrity is wearing, not an actual clue to their identities. This week, the weaknesses shown for the Eagle and Penguin both referred to climate change.

The Masked Singer is either attempting gallows humor, or hoping a reminder that were rapidly killing our planet and the amazing creatures that inhabit it will serve as a call to action when were not trying to figure out whether a masked penguin is actually Raven-Symon.

Watching this and nearly having an existential crisis, I felt like Ethan Hawkes character from First Reformed, and briefly considered mixing together a Pepto-whiskey cocktail. Is this really the best way to engage in climate change discourse, with animal jokes on a dystopian singing competition? Perhaps not, but to quote my man, well, somebody has to do something! (Sidebar: Ethan Hawke should appear this season as a guest judge, but only if hes in character as the priest.)

Elsewhereas usualthe actual judges panel of Robin Thicke, anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong, and Nicole Scherzinger continued with a stream of questionable guesses for the contestants. The best among them: positing that the Flower could be Mariah Carey. Disregarding the fact she wouldnt be caught dead putting on a mask and singing for these plebes, it would be hilarious if the Masked Singer producers actually did this to Nick Cannon. (He and Carey were once married.) Imagine the Flower getting eliminated and Cannon having to be like, ITS my ex-wife Alas, The Masked Singer is not Nick Cannons personal hell. It is mine.

The judges have also gone a little pun-crazy this season; after the Flower performed some Dolly Parton, Scherzinger said the performance was heavy petal. That pun should be tried at the Hague; furthermore, it was a Dolly Parton song, not fucking Avenged Sevenfold. If the Flower smashed a guitar while singing Bat Country, you [Bane voice] have my permission to say heavy petal. Clearly, Ken Jeongs cringey humor is having some effect on the rest of the panel, and the solution is to get rid of himand also Jenny McCarthy, because anti-vaxxers dont deserve any kind of platform, and Jenny, listen, we dont give a shit that youre married to the Wahlberg from Blue Bloods.

When it came down to the smackdown elimination showdown, the Penguin bested the Eagle, which I also had some issues with. The Penguins vocals seem, well, Auto-Tune-y. The Eagle is by no means a professional singer, but he had a soulfulness to his voice that rang authentic. Alas, the Penguin had more physical theatricsand that seemed to woo the judges, who vote on the smackdown instead of the audience. Its probably not a good sign that the judges can be swayed by stage presence more than vocalsthen again, as Nietzsche might say were he forced to watch any of this, nothing matters. So the Eagle was unmaskedand after lots of clues implying hes worked alongside rock stars, he was revealed to be Dr. Drew Pinsky of Celebrity Rehab and Loveline.

McCarthy got closest of any of the judges by guessing that the Eagle was Adam Carolla, who was Dr. Drews former Loveline cohost. Thankfully, it wasnt Carollahe also doesnt deserve a platform, and Im sure his singing voice sounds like a frog choking on peanut butter. Ill say this for Dr. Drew: He wouldnt be mistaken for a rock star, but he wasnt all that bad of a singer, either. I take some solace in thatand in the fact that every week The Masked Singer is on the air means one fewer week until our national nightmare is over. Until 2020, at least.

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And This Week, the Masked Singer on The Masked Singer Is ... - The Ringer

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George and West GS ’80 discuss open-minded intellectual inquiry – The Daily Princetonian

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Professor Emeritis Cornel West GS 80 and Professor Robert P. George speak on truth seeking.

Two renowned University-affiliated academics from opposite ends of the political spectrum came together in a talk to agree on what they see as the fundamental role of academia truth-seeking and open inquiry. McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Robert P. George and Class of 1943 University Professor of African American Studies, Emeritus Cornel West GS 80 spoke at an event titled The Spirit of Truth-Seeking on Friday night.

The event took place during First-year Families Weekend and was sponsored by the James Madison Program as part of the University Humanities Councils Being Human festival. The talk took place in McCosh Hall 50 on Oct. 11, at 7 p.m.

University President Christopher Eisgruber 83 began the discussion with an introduction of the speakers and an opening statement in which he accentuated the value of truth-seeking at the University.

Tonights discussion addresses a topic truth-seeking that resides at the heart of this university, and indeed, at the center of any research university worthy of the name, said Eisgruber.

Eisgruber quoted James Peebles GS 62, the Albert Einstein Professor Emeritus of Science and a recent co-recipient of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics.

At his press conference on Tuesday, Professor Peebles said he hoped for many years that his theory was wrong, stated Eisgruber. He kept formulating alternative theories that might deepen our understanding of the cosmos by disproving the theory that eventually won him the Nobel Prize.

The spirit of truth-seeking is first a spirit of humility, George emphasized at the beginning of the dialogue. Its a spirit that recognizes ones own fallibility, that whatever ones convictions, beliefs, or judgments, they are fallible.

George affirmed some values that he believed to be essential for a research university.

For universities to be true to their truth-seeking mission, it is critical that they understand and that they be strict in their adherence to academic integrity and academic freedom, George asserted.

More important than the material benefits that a student can obtain with a degree from the University, according to George, is the examined life that can be offered to students.

You have here the opportunity to consider the best that has been thought and said, to consider the best arguments on competing sides, and to go for the big questions, George stated.

West highlighted that new students are becoming a part of the tradition of intellectual inquiry at the University.

You are in for magnificent joy, not just pleasure, West said to the first-year students. But most importantly, you are here to be thoroughly unsettled.

Continuing, West discussed what the concept of learning entails, morally and spiritually.

Deep education is about what [George] and I talk about ... students come in to learn how to die, said West. Students come in to learn how to die in order to learn how to live!

Reaffirming Georges point on ones fallibility, West proclaimed the importance of self-examination.

Nietzsche was right, its not just about having the courage of ones conviction, said West. Its the question of having the courage to attack ones conviction.

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George and West GS '80 discuss open-minded intellectual inquiry - The Daily Princetonian

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You think SA is a political mess? Look at the world! Insights from Great Thinkers – BizNews

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South Africans display heavy hearts at times, particularly amid the swells of news about corruption. But its not just the sub-Saharan economic powerhouse and its steadily sinking neighbour, Zimbabwe, that are in a political mess. Democracies the world over are crumbling as capitalism bares its vulnerabilities. The rich get ever richer, the poor grow in number and barbaric, bloody wars continue to erupt, with the Turkey-Syria border this week among the latest examples. Many leaders, meanwhile, look like the Jokers in the pack rather than the high-count cards. Its a mad world, and it always has been, says The Conversation, which highlights the most astute insights on human nature from the worlds greatest thinkers. Jackie Cameron

By Michael Hauskeller*

Western democracies are in a state of crisis. The liberal world order that was created after World War II is crumbling and we dont quite understand what is going on or what to do about it. Fortunately, some of the great literature and philosophy of the past can help us to make sense of it and maybe even to find a way out of the mess.

First of all, we need to give up the idea that the world is organised in a rational way. The world has not gone mad. It has in fact always been mad. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer argued that at the heart of everything and that includes us is not reason but blind will. This, he wrote, explains why the world is in such a sorry state and we keep messing things up by fighting needless wars and inflicting so much suffering on ourselves and each other.

Herman Melville, author of the wonderful (and rather disturbing) novel Moby Dick, thought that our life was all a cruel joke that the gods play on us, and the best we can do is to play along and join their laughter. Friedrich Nietzsche declared God to be dead so that we are now free to do as we please and to make our own will the measure of all things. The French philosopher and novelist Albert Camus described the world as an alien place that couldnt care less about our human needs and wants.

What we can learn from these writers is that the first thing we have to do to make sense of what is happening in the world today is to stop believing that any of this is meant to make any sense. Madness is the rule not the exception.

In a mad world it is to be expected that people are generally quite mad too. This is the second thing we need to realise. We tend to assume that people do things and want things for good reasons. But very often we want things that it makes no sense to want because they are clearly harmful. When someone tries to reason with us, pointing out all the factual and logical errors we commit, we just ignore them and carry on as before.

This would be very puzzling if we were indeed rational animals. But we are not. We are certainly capable of being rational and reasonable, but the problem is that we dont always want to be. Reason bores us. Occasionally we want and need a little bit of chaos. Or even a lot of chaos.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the author of Crime and Punishment and other great novels about a world that has lost its way, once remarked (in his 1864 novella Notes from the Underground) that people are generally phenomenally stupid and ungrateful. And he wouldnt be at all surprised, he says:

If suddenly, out of the blue, amid the universal future reasonableness, some gentleman of ignoble, or, better, of retrograde and jeering physiognomy, should emerge, set his arms akimbo, and say to us all: Well, gentlemen, why dont we reduce all this reasonableness to dust with one good kick, for the whole purpose of sending all these logarithms to the devil and living once more according to our own stupid will!

No doubt such a gentleman (and perhaps more than one) has now indeed emerged. Yet this is not the main problem. What is really offensive, according to Dostoyevsky, is that such a man can be sure to find followers. Because that is how man is arranged.

Nietzsche, too, knew how easily we can go wrong and desire things that do not deserve to be desired and admire people that do not deserve to be admired. In Thus Spake Zarathustra he writes:

In the world even the best things are worthless without someone who performs them: those performers the people call great men. Little do the people understand what is great, namely that which creates. But they have a taste for all performers and actors of great things.

Our problem is that we idolise the performers and not the creators, those who only pretend to make things great again and to get things done, and who are very good at convincing others of this without actually doing anything great at all. The performer, Nietzsche says, has:

Little conscience of the spirit. He believes always in that which makes people believe most strongly in him! Tomorrow he has a new belief, and the day after, one still newer. Quick of perception is he, like the people, and his moods change. To upset is what he means by prove. To madden is what he means by convince. And blood he deems to be the best of all reasons. A truth which only slips into subtle ears he calls a lie and a nothing. He indeed believes only in gods that make a great noise in the world!

So is there anything we can do about all this? How do we deal with a world that is clearly off-kilter? How do we keep our sanity in a world that seems to be getting more insane by the minute? Various coping strategies have been proposed by our great writers: Schopenhauer thought we should find a way to negate the will and turn our backs on the world for good.

Melville suggested amused detachment, Marcel Proust an escape into the world of art. Tolstoy found meaning and solace in faith, Dostoyevsky in universal love and Danish philosopher Sren Kierkegaard in being grounded in God. Nietzsche thought we should embrace and love whatever happens to us, and Ludwig Wittgenstein believed that we should live in and for everything that is good and beautiful.

But to change the world we may need a more active and combative approach. Instead of trying to escape from or accept what is happening, we can also as Camus suggested create a more meaningful world by becoming rebels and fighting injustice in all its forms. Such a rebellion can be quite modest in scope. It does not have to be loud and flashy. Not much more may be required from us than being and remaining despite all the challenges we face today decent and reasonable people.

The following passage from an address that William James gave in 1897 on the occasion of the unveiling of the Robert Gould Shaw American civil war monument in Boston sums it up quite nicely:

The deadliest enemies of nations are not their foreign foes, they always dwell within their borders. And from these internal enemies civilisation is always in need of being saved. The nation blest above all nations is she in whom the civic genius of the people does the saving day by day, by acts without external picturesqueness; by speaking, writing, voting reasonably; by the people knowing true men when they see them, and preferring them as leaders to rabid partisans or empty quacks.

Amen to that.

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You think SA is a political mess? Look at the world! Insights from Great Thinkers - BizNews

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A Neglected Modern Masterpiece and Its Perverse Hero – The New Yorker

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Imagine a novel about an ambitious, slightly coarse, provincial young man, determined to make his name in the capital city. He is tall and strong, with uncanny blue eyessea-cold, merman eyes. He talks too loudly. One of the capitals most polished journalists dismisses him as a swaggering farmboy. Even the rich heiress who almost marries him agrees with him that he is like a mountain troll from a fairy tale; her sister, on first meeting him, noticed his slightly provincial shoes. But he has brilliance and will, and others welcome this young engineer with a head full of projects as the prototype of the active man of the twentieth century, a figure from a different, luckier tale, an Aladdin (as one of his friends crowns him) who will surely prosper and triumph. The novel describes this journey.

Now imagine that the novel systematically subverts the swelling arc of the bildungsromanthat, on the cusp of each achievement, some ghostly hand pulls our hero back from victory. He is about to leave his mark in the capital city, but eventually withdraws. He is about to marry the rich heiress, but calls off the engagement. He returns to the country and starts a family with a modest country girl, but he isnt happy there, either: He was like a clock whose insides had been carefully removed, piece by piece. In fact, our Aladdin seems destined to follow the serial emaciations of Hans in Luck, one of the Grimms fairy tales, in which Hans, having been paid in gold by his master, is persuaded to exchange his gold for a horse, then his horse for a cow, then his cow for a pig, and so on, until finally he loses everything, and returns home happy and unencumbered. His luck is his reduction.

The hero of this novel comes to the conclusion that all worldly treasures lost their worth as he got closer to them. He spends his final years living in virtual isolation in a remote rural area in the north of the country. After his untimely death, a notebook of his is found, which contains these beautiful words of fatalism and rebellion:

When we are young, we make immoderate demands on those powers that steer existence. We want them to reveal themselves to us. The mysterious veil under which we have to live offends us; we demand to be able to control and correct the great world-machinery. When we get a little older, in our impatience we cast our eye over mankind and its history to try to find, at last, a coherence in laws, in progressive development; in short, we seek a meaning to life, an aim for our struggles and suffering. But one day, we are stopped by a voice from the depths of our beings, a ghostly voice that asks Who are you? From then on we hear no other question. From that moment, our own true self becomes the great Sphinx, whose riddle we try to solve.

This shattering, sometimes unbearably powerful novel, completed in 1904, was written by Henrik Pontoppidan, who won the Nobel Prize in 1917. It is considered one of the greatest Danish novels; the filmmaker Bille August turned the story into a nearly three-hour movie called, in English, A Fortunate Man (2019). The novel was praised by Thomas Mann and Ernst Bloch, and is effectively at the center of Georg Lukcss classic study The Theory of the Novel (1920). In Danish, it is called Lykke-Per; in German, it was given the title of the Grimm brothers fairy tale Hans im Glck. And in English? In English, it didnt exist, having gone untranslated for more than a century, until the scholar Naomi Lebowitz administered the translators equivalent of a magic kiss and roused it from shameful oblivion. Published nine years ago in academic format, Lucky Per has finally appeared in Everymans Library, in Lebowitzs fluent and lucid version, with an excellent introduction by the novelist and critic Garth Risk Hallberg. Our luck has caught up with everyone elses.

Have I spoiled the plot by revealing the ending? The critic only gives away in silver what the great novel eventually releases as gold. Besides, its almost impossible to discuss Lucky Per without discussing the shape of its plot, because the radical oddity of the book is so bound up with the heros final renunciations. At first sight, Lucky Per looks like a stolid work of realism. It is almost six hundred pages long. Through its ample halls moves a large cast of characters, from several layers of Danish societymiddle-class clergymen, rich merchants, lawyers and politicians, writers and intellectuals. There is much conversation about the coming century: the fate of the nation, the future of technology.

But one reason its generally unwise to talk about a single style called realism is that prose narrative is so often lured away from conventional verisimilitude by rival genres, notably allegory and fairy tale. The books opening chapter is at once familiarly realistic and heavy with the ironic fatalism of the folktale. In a small market town in East Jutland, Per Sidenius is one of eleven children growing up in an austerely religious family. His father is a pastor with an ascetic hatred of the body. His mother is bedridden. While his brothers and sisters mutter their prayers in a sort of underworld blindness to the light and full of a dread of life and its glory, Per is a singular, rebellious life force. He sneaks out of the house to go sledding, he flirts with a local girl. When a parishioner complains to the pastor that Per has been stealing apples from his garden, the wayward son is severely admonished at family dinner, warned that he could end up like Cain, the first murderer, whom God cursed thus: You will be a wandering fugitive in all the earth. His siblings weep in dismay, but Per silently scoffs. At the age of sixteen, he escapes this prison, and goes to Copenhagen to study engineering at the Polytechnic Institute. The coming-of-age novel, Pers sentimental education, will now begin in earnest, as the dark, religious family grotto recedes into the distance of legend.

Alas, the past cannot be escaped so easily. Fable and allegory curl themselves like creepers around our heros feet. Per has, in effect, been exiled from Eden, for the Adamic sin of stealing apples. But his home wasnt Edenic, and besides, he doesnt share his fathers Christian faith. If he hasnt committed a sin, how can he be cursed? All the secular energy of this noveland it has a magnificent, liberating secular powerpushes against the reality of the pastors Old Testament damnation. Yet Per is cursed: hes destined to wander, destined to quest, and destined to fail. With a steady, returning beat, closer to allegorical verse than to realist fiction, the novel reminds us of its guiding theme: the homelessness of its hero, condemned to spend his life in the lonely quest for a metaphysical safe harbor. So is Pers curse a religious curse or a fairy-tale curse? And what is the difference between the two?

Pers odd life path might simply be the result of being born into the Sidenius family. The Sideniuses, we learn at the novels opening, trace their lineage, through generations of ministers, all the way back to the Reformation. Its a family tree of unimpeachable piety and dreary episcopal conformity, with one exception. An ancestor, also a pastor, known as Mad Sidenius, somehow went off the rails. He drank brandy with the peasants, and assaulted the parish clerk. In a novel haunted by insanity and suicide, the memory of this family outcast is important. The potentially blasphemous question rears its head again: if its a curse to be a Sidenius, is Per cursed by generations of unerring piety, or by that ancestral aberrant flash of madness?

Henrik Pontoppidans life began much like his fictional heros. He was born in 1857, the son of a Jutland pastor, into a family that had produced countless clergymen. Unlike Per, Pontoppidan seems to have remained on friendly terms with his family, despite drifting away from his inherited Christianity. In his memoir, published in 1940, three years before his death, he declared himself to be an out-and-out rationalist, dismayed by the tenacity of religious superstition. Like Per, he left the provinces to study engineering at the Polytechnic Institute in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen of the eighteen-seventies and eighties has been described (by the critic Morten Hi Jensen) as the first real battleground of European Modernism. A parochially Protestant culture was beginning to do intellectual trade with the rest of Europe: French realism and naturalism, Darwinism and radical atheism were the imported goods. The two most talented conduits of these new freedoms were the novelist Jens Peter Jacobsen and the critic Georg Brandes, both of whom make appearances in fictionalized form in Lucky Per. Jacobsen translated Darwins major work into Danish, and wrote what is surely one of the most fanatically and superbly atheistic novels in existence, Niels Lyhne (1880). A lyrical aesthete and a Flaubertian prose polisher, he is pictured, in Lucky Per, as the sickly poet Enevoldsen, fussing with his lorgnette at a Copenhagen caf while worrying about where to put a comma. Jacobsen was championed by Brandes, whose lectures at the University of Copenhagen in 1871 were an inspiration for a generation of Scandinavian writers. (Brandes and Pontoppidan corresponded for decades.) Brandes had read Mill, Hegel, Feuerbach, Strauss. A fervent atheist, he introduced Danish readers to Nietzsche and, late in life, wrote a book entitled Jesus: A Myth (1925). He was an advocate of European naturalism, and of fiction that attended to the social and political moment. It was time, he argued, to open Denmark up to the outsidea movement that became known as the Modern Breakthrough. In Lucky Per, Brandes appears throughout the novel, more invoked than encountered, as the dominating Dr. Nathan, sometimes nicknamed Dr. Satan. Brandes was Jewish, and Pontoppidan, remarkably alert to European anti-Semitism throughout the novel, writes that Per had kept his distance from Dr. Nathan because of this: He simply didnt like that foreign race, nor did he have any leaning toward literary men.

But Pers life will soon be changed by another Jewish character, and one who shares the bulk of the novel with him: the fierce, brilliant, troubled Jakobe Salomon. Per meets Jakobe through her brother, Ivan, who decides, early in the novel, that Per has the potential of a Caesar on whose brow God has written I come, I see, I conquer! Pers imperial impulses are manifest in his vast utopian engineering project, which envisages a system of canals on the Dutch model that will connect Denmarks rivers, lakes, and fjords with one another, and put the cultivated heaths and the flourishing new towns into contact with the sea on both sides. His dream is a physical enactment of Brandess Modern Breakthrough. He also shares Brandess atheism. There was no hell, Per reflects, other than what mankind, afraid of loves joy and the bodys force, created in its monstrous imagination. The Anglophone reader is sometimes reminded of Thomas Hardy or D.H. Lawrence. Per exults in the healthy secularism of the body: The embrace of man and woman was the heaven in which there is oblivion for all sorrows, forgiveness for all sins, where souls meet in guiltless nakedness like Adam and Eve in the garden of paradise.

With the ruthlessness of the provincial hero, Per decides that marriage to an heiress of the vast Salomon merchant fortune will speed him on his way. At first, though, he stirs in Jakobe a deep-seated hatred of Christian culture, and she treats him with an insulting haughtiness. Bookish, sensitive, twenty-three, and already considered a bit of an old maid by her family, Jakobe had been a sickly child, and the target of anti-Semitic bullying. Per triggers in her a memory, at once sharp and hallucinatory, narrated with dreamlike indulgence by Pontoppidan, and one of the novels most potent scenes. Four years earlier, Jakobe had been in a Berlin railway station. Her eye was caught by a group of pitiable, ragged people surrounded by a circle of curious, gaping onlookers. When she asked a station official how to get to the waiting room, he replied that with her nose she should find it easy to smell her way there. On the floor of the waiting room were hundreds more desperate, emaciated paupers. Suddenly, she realized that they were Russian Jews, on their way to America via Germany. She had heard of the pogroms, and was astounded that this infamy crying out to heaven could happen right before Europes eyes with no authoritative voice raised against it! Pers Nordic frame and blue eyes make her think of two police officers she glimpsed in Berlin, who seemed the embodiments of the brutal self-righteousness of the Christian society she lives in.

With great ironic power, Pontoppidan convinces us that Jakobe and Per must inevitably hate each other, and then, soon enough, that these two damaged creatures could have found comfort only in each other. Their relationship is passionately erotic and ardently intellectual; Jakobe, again like some heroine out of D.H. Lawrence, is helplessly attracted to Per, despite the blaring correctives from her conscience. The couple have in common their committed atheism, their hatred of the established church, and a sense of being chosenby theology, by race, by similarly heroic notions of destiny.

Garth Risk Hallberg, in his introduction, says that Jakobe Salomon is as intelligent as anyone out of James, as bold as anyone out of Austen, as perverse as anyone out of Dostoyevsky, and adds that, with all due respect, the frankness and amplitude of Pontoppidans depiction of the Salomon household leaves George Eliots Daniel Deronda in the dust. I like it when writers are made to run races with one another, precisely because were supposed to be above such competitions, and I also think that Hallberg is right. Jakobe is utterly alive and complex, and burns at the living center of the book. Pontoppidan endows her with an extraordinary intellectual restlessness, and allows her some of the most movingly lucid secular proclamations I have ever encountered in fiction.

One of these statements, a long letter that she writes to Per, becomes an eloquent, scalding testament to her atheism and her faith in the known limits of our worldly existence. She excoriates Christianitys exaggerated anxiety about death and, following Nietzsche, complains about the link between the fear of death and slave morality:

Never will I forget the impression that some plaster casts of bodies excavated in Pompeii made on me. There were, among others, a master and his slave, both evidently caught by surprise in the rain of ash.... But what a difference in the facial expressions! On the slaves face, you could read the most confusing puzzlement. He was overturned on his back, his eyebrows were raised up to his hairline, the thick mouth open, and you could virtually hear him screaming like a stuck pig. The other, by contrast, had preserved his mastered dignity unto death. His almost-closed eyes, the fine mouth pressed shut, were marked by the proudest and most beautiful resignation in relation to the inevitable.

My primary complaint against Christianitys hope of eternal life is that it robs this life of its deep seriousness and, with that, its beauty. When we imagine our existence here on earth as only a dress rehearsal for the real performance, what remains of lifes festiveness?

The powerful secular argument of the novel resides in the freedom and intensity of Per and Jakobes brief relationship. Theres a marvellous scene in the Austrian Alps, where Per has travelled after the couples engagement, and where Jakobe has arrived without notice. The time they spend together in the Alps constitutes their true marriage, a new birth and baptism. One day, out walking, they come across a crude wooden cross, a simple hillside shrine with a rough painting of Jesus. Per tells Jakobe a fable that he heard as a child, about a farm boy who wants to become a great shot, a magic marksman. But in order to achieve this the boy must go out at night, find an image of Christ, and shoot a bullet through it. Every time the lad tries to do it, his confidence wavers, his hand shakes, and he fails the test. He remains a common Sunday hunter for the rest of his life.

Per turns back to the hillside shrine. Look at that pale man hanging there! he says. Why dont we have the courage to spit from disgust right in his face. Per takes out his revolver and fires at the image of Jesus, while yelling, Now I shoot in the new century! As the cross splinters, a second, hollow boom sounds through the valley, like infernal thunder. Per blanches, and then laughs, remembering the signposts he had seen earlier: Take notice of the echo!

Heavy, God-infested, magnificently metaphysical, unafraid to court ridicule, and playing for the highest possible stakesthey dont write like that anymore. They didnt write much like that in 1904, though Knut Hamsun, in 1890, and Jens Peter Jacobsen, in 1880, and above all Dostoyevsky, the great progenitor, had all sounded something like this, not so long before. Given the novels astonishingly raw atheism, how are we to read the religious renunciation of its ending? At the novels close, Jakobe and Per appear to be living alone, and each is now committed to a life of religious seriousness, though neither is a religious believer: Per in the remote north, living in monkish retreat, and Jakobe in Copenhagen, where she has founded a charity school for poor children.

Throughout, Per is hard to comprehend in his cloudy questing. At one momentaround the time of his mothers deathhe is pulled back toward his inherited faith, repenting his lust for worldly success and begging forgiveness from God. But fifty or so pages later his recoil from Christian self-sacrifice is palpable once again; he is repelled, for instance, by Thomas Kempiss lament, in Imitation of Christ, that truly, it is an affliction to live in the world. Per reflects that he is at home neither among ascetic Christiansthe piety of the Sideniusesnor among the children of the world: the luxury of the Salomons. And yet, troubled by this very homelessness, he feels that one must choose: on one side, renunciation; on the other, the world. Which is it to be? For it is necessary to take a stand, to swear fidelity... to the cross or champagne.

In the end, Per surrenders to the religious impulses of a faith he seems to stand outside of. We have been here before, in this world of a deformed and contradictory atheism. Raging heroes in Dostoyevsky, Jacobsen, and Hamsun enjoy denouncing a God they dont believe in. But Per Sidenius is stranger still, because he seems to want to imitate a Christ he doesnt believe in. Thomas Mann praised Pontoppidan as a kind of gentle prophet, for having judged the times and, like the true poet which he is, pointed toward a purer humanity. In a suggestive afterword, the novels translator, Naomi Lebowitz, notes how Per restlessly evicts himself from all those places which could offer him refuge. Subtler than Mann, she also sees Pers journey as the discovery of, finally, an authentic and transparent sense of self... the need to be himself, by himself.

The novel encourages such readings. Pers notebook, written in his final years, contains the following entry: Honor to my youths expansive dreams! And I am still a world conqueror. Every mans soul is an independent universe, his death the extinction of the universe in miniature. In this reading, Lucky Per, though rather Scandinavian in its religious intensity, is a still familiar version of the bildungsroman, in which our hero ventures out into the world, tastes success, tastes the ashes of success, and retreats to ponder, on his own authentic terms, the riddle of the self that has always preoccupied him. Fredric Jameson has suggested that we should see this as a happy ending, albeit an ironic one, in which Per has managed to get beyond success or failure.

Yet how can we accept the ironic wisdom of this ending without smothering the vital force of the novels earlier secularism? Where have the magic marksmen, willing not only to spit at Christ but to shoot at Christ, gone? Where has Jakobes proud Roman master scuttled away to? You dont have to be a fully paid-up Nietzschean to feel that if you no longer believe in the Christian God you should no longer believe in that Christian Gods slave morality. If you have rejected the content of the faith, why mimic its more self-punishing practices? Pers imagined choice between cross or champagne is not only a false choice but a mutilated one, posed by a reduced version of Christianity. In fact, Lucky Per emerges as a savage critique of the persistence, in Danish culture, of a certain Kierkegaardian masochism, in which all choices are made religious rather than secular, purifyingly negative rather than complicatedly affirmative. Kierkegaard said that one had to be a kind of lunatic in order to be a true Christian. Is there a difference between this form of religious madness and actual madness? Lucky Per inserts its secular, novelistic lever into just this question.

What if Pers final renunciation is a narrative false flag? Instead of looking at Per, we should perhaps look toward Jakobe, whose own renunciation takes her into the world, not away from it, and who seems to manage this turn without compromising her defiant secularism. She is the novels true hero. How do you get back to Eden? Back to the place you inhabited before the original religious curse? Back to a home before religion made it a home you could be exiled from? If you are a wandering, homeless Christian, scarred by original sin, the answer might be: in the arms of a wandering Jewbut one whose own itinerancy is unseduced by the lure of religion, whose own secularism is not tempted by the simplicity of religious masochism. In the strange switchback of their lives, Per and Jakobe each redefined the meaning of luck. The shame was that they could not share it. Lucky Jakobe, unlucky Per.

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A Neglected Modern Masterpiece and Its Perverse Hero - The New Yorker

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