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Writing and reading philosophy are two human activities famous for their inherent difficulty. If philosophy is thinking about thinking, writing philosophy is writing about thinking about thinking, and reading philosophy is reading writing about thinking about thinking.  Continue reading...
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All readers have favorite writers, writers whom we know and love, writers whose company we enjoy though we may never meet, writers who, we feel sure, know and love us back, who understand what we think and feel.  Continue reading...
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The dog ate the food. That's writing at its plainest. Each word has a definite, well-known meaning, the signifiers point to their signifieds just like they're supposed to. If we know how to read, we have no trouble seeing Fido happily munching his kibble.  Continue reading...
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Aside from writing prose, I write songs, maybe five or six a year. Usually I have no idea where they come from. One day I'm strumming my guitar, thinking of this and that, and suddenly a chord or a fragment of melody catches my ear, or a few words pop into my mind. I repeat them and wonder, is this the seed of a song?  Continue reading...
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Sing, goddess, sing the wrath of Achilles, son of Peleus... The Iliad's immortal opening lines have let countless generations of readers know just what to expect from this primal epic poem of Western literature—angry men at war—and they have not been and never will be disappointed.  Continue reading...
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For ten years I've given my writing students at St. John's University this exercise: I ask each student to stand up and say, truthfully, their name, where they live, and something that they like to do. When they've all done that, I ask them to stand again and this time make up a name, a place where they live, and something they like to do.  Continue reading...
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In my recent reading I've gone on a major Mark Twain kick, and with every page I read, my admiration for Twain's writing grows. William Dean Howells, a contemporary and friend, called Twain "the Lincoln of our literature," and the title rings true, both for the plainspoken American vernacular that the two mastered, and for the boldness with which they faced our democracy's ugliest stain, the enslaving of African-Americans by European-Americans.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 1-7 of 66 Articles