You may remember the uproar Cornel West, the Zelig-like black scholar, caused last year when he viciously attacked Obama on the liberal website Truthdig. The big news was that West—a prominent voice in American public life, but especially within the black community—had turned against the man he spent much of the 2008 campaigning for. But there was a lesser-noticed quote in that interview that raised many Jewish eyebrows. Embedded in his criticism that Obama wasn’t quite black enough, he said that Obama seemed “most comfortable with upper-¬middle
Dave Eggers, the literary wunderkind, almost mustered some courage. This week he refused to go to Germany to accept the prestigious, $50,000 literary award created by Gunter Grass—the Nobel laureate who recently caused on international uproar over his poem chastising Israel for threatening global stability. But Eggers’ seeming act of courage was more apparent than real. Essentially, he declined the award because he didn’t wan
Remember Julian Assange, the guy behind WikiLeaks? Well, he’s back. Despite facing rape charges in his native country of Sweden, he’s started a new internet T.V. show, which Russia Today is hosting online. RT.com, a Kremlin-controlled station, may be a strange choice for Assange’s new show, given his quasi-anarchic ethos, but stranger still is his first interviewee—Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader.
Perhaps the greatest irony of classical music is that, while Jews have excelled in the genre as both composers and musicians, they have left very little notable music with an identifiable Jewish strain. Many have tried, to be sure—Leonard Bernstein and Steven Reich, to name two. But both those greats will be forever famous for their non-Jewish work.
Umberto Eco's latest novel, "The Prague Cemetery," has received tons of attention. But few reviewers have added anything interesting in their criticism, other than the usual banal stuff (not necessarily untrue) of it being "boring" or "over-stuffed" or intellectually ambitious, but less successfully executed. If you want something interesting, check out Neal Ascherson's take in The New York Review of Books. He actually has plenty
Nothing quite gets the public going like a Spielberg movie. Even if you hate his movies (not that I do), it's hard to avoid the excitement they engender. Especially come Christmas. This year, Spielberg's big holiday release, you may have heard, is "The Adventures of Tintin," an animated 3D film about the legendary children's book. And this year, I'm predicting a minor controversy about it.
Years ago, on a trip to Japan, I came across a swastika. Dozens of them, actually, in museums across the country. I was shocked, what Westerner wouldn't be?
No doubt this has happened to many Western travelers in Asia, and no doubt many have gotten the re-assuring answer from tour guides or friends: don't worry, it just means "good luck." Buddhists have been using it as a symbol for luck for more than 2,000 years.