The Best Of The Dish This Weekend


Ross made a crucial point about TNR today:

The New Republic as-it-was, the magazine I and others grew up reading, was emphatically not just a “policy magazine.” It was, instead, a publication that deliberately integrated its policy writing with often-extraordinary coverage of literature, philosophy, history, religion, music, fine art. It wasn’t just a liberal magazine, in other words; it was a liberal-arts magazine, which unlike many of today’s online ventures never left its readers with the delusion that literary style or intellectual ambition were of secondary importance, or that today’s fashions represented permanent truths.

That’s why the Dish’s coverage of the world every day includes philosophy, theology, art, photography, literature, film and poetry alongside our bread and butter political and policy analysis. If you want to know why we don’t take the weekends off – but try to curate and aggregate some of the more thoughtful essays and reviews and posts on what might be called “the eternal things”, this is why. Because we’re trying in our inevitably limited bloggy way to keep the worldview of the now-disappearing literary and political magazines alive in a new medium and a new form. If we had the resources, we would do more – finding ways to add many more original essays and reviews to Deep Dish, for example. We’re brainstorming the future of our little experiment all the time – but the demise of places where high and low culture, politics and poetry, human life and abstract argument can jostle for space and inform each other makes me particularly aware of the need to fill this cultural void, while some of us still retain the institutional memory to replicate it. Culture needs stewards, and they can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

I struggle with blogging all the time – it’s a very intense and public way of being a writer, it’s extremely Howler Beagle (tr)strenuous, and doing it for fifteen years every day can get you exhausted by exhaustion. Part of me wants to drop off the planet all the time and just grab a book or ten, or debate something in the news without anyone but my friends to tell me I’m full of shit, or just not go online for a few weeks on end. Part of me would like to go a week without being called a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, an anti-Semite or a misogynist (I guess that was Burning Man). But I’m not delusional, and when I see the little lifeboat that we, with your help, have managed to create over a decade and a half, it seems a vital thing to figure out a way for it to survive and thrive. As more old-school magazines become shipwrecks, or unrecognizable, we have to keep that boat buoyant until the seas calm … or this metaphor completely runs out of steam.

This weekend, we discovered aspects of Kafka’s life that were straight from a sit-com; explored Pope Francis’ view of sexual complementarity; worried about the decline of male friendship and love (see Martin Amis talk about Hitch here); celebrated the art of toilet graffiti; and revealed the video-photo-shopping of movie-stars in movies – to make them flawless, of course.

Some other quotes:

Bad sex writing: “The universe was in her and with each movement it unfolded to her. Somewhere in the night a stray rocket went off.”

Faith: “The yearning for an afterlife is the opposite of selfish: it is love and praise for the world that we are privileged, in this complex interval of light, to witness and experience.”

Good luck: “Updike’s literary setbacks were those of a lottery winner who stubs his toe on the way to the bank and then has to wait in line before he can cash his check”

Jed Perl on Picasso: “A product of modernism, Picasso trumped modernism. By rejecting the idea of art as having a past or a future, he has somehow managed to stay with us in the present.”

And Mark Strand on his own death, and on life:

The weather, like tomorrow, like your life,
is partially here, partially up in the air.
There is nothing you can do.

The most popular post of the weekend was TNR RIP – my reflections on the implosion of an institution. Next up: A Smaller Screen For Sex.

If you want to help keep this blog alive, and haven’t yet subscribed, please do here. It matters for all the reasons above. If you have, thank you – and you can help some more by buying a Christmas gift subscription for a friend or family member, or by buying our new coffee mug. Some Dishheads’ pets – here, here and here – are more excited than others:


Mug just arrived! Gorgeous!

One more email for the weekend, from the reader who sent the window view above:

Because I’m a recent first-time subscriber, I don’t know the unspoken decorum to go about submitting a Window View for the daily shots or the weekly contest, but here it is: a shot from the elementary school I work at in Boiro, Spain, taken at 3:33pm. I’ve been reading since around March or so and subscribed in July and am happy to contribute even a small amount to support such a high quality curation of links and articles from across the ‘net as well as the rich discussion that is hosted here. Keep it up.

We will in the morning; see you then.