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“Shall I project a world?”

Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49

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How to Talk to Cats: Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore

Searching for a way to describe a new style of painting in the 1920s, Franz Roh invented the term “magic realism.” However, like the fictions that would later bear this name, the designation showed little regard for neat distinctions between the various arts. With a wink, it quickly slipped away the frames of pictures andContinue reading “How to Talk to Cats: Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore

The Uses of Ambiguity: The Good Soldier Schweik

Ever since the time of Juvenal, and probably before, satirists have been hard at work deflating the pretensions of their societies and speaking truth to power with a wink and an air of feigned sincerity. Some, like Swift and Voltaire, channel their “savage indignation” into creating a better world. Others, like Pope, gently mock theContinue reading “The Uses of Ambiguity: The Good Soldier Schweik

Amphion’s Lyre

Toward the end of Horace’s treatise Ars Poetica, the author dips into the myths surrounding the origins of poetry to sprinkle his subject with magic. “While men still roamed the forests, they were restrained from bloodshed and a bestial way of life by Orpheus, the sacred prophet and interpreter of the gods – that isContinue reading “Amphion’s Lyre”

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