• September 23, 2014

    David Graeber

    David Graeber

    Last week, The Baffler sponsored a debate between David Graeber and Peter Thiel that Thiel’s team called “objectively, a waste of time,” according to the New York Times, which covered the event in Monday’s edition. Baffler editor John Summers was charmed: “I’m thinking we should embrace the tagline for our next event.”

    Politico reports that the Times is considering a round of buyouts that would cut fifty jobs from the paper. A company spokesperson refused to comment, dismissing the claim as “rumors and speculation.” Further rumor and speculation (via Capital New York) has it that executive editor Dean Baquet will soon reveal his new masthead. Baquet may promote four existing staffers—Susan Chira,  Ian Fisher, Matt Purdy, and Janet Elder—to a team of “top deputies.”

    The New York Review of Books excerpts Robert Darnton’s book Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature. Censorship, Darnton explains, “is essentially political; it is wielded by the state”—usually, with great care. “To dismiss censorship as crude repression by ignorant bureaucrats is to get it wrong. Although it varied enormously, it usually was a complex process that required talent and training and that extended deep into the social order.”

    At the New Inquiry, Sabrina Alli criticizes “re-entry” programs, which attempt to induct people back into the workforce after they’ve been in jail, in ATIs (alternatives to incarceration), or on probation or parole. The programs do the opposite of what they’re intended to do, Alli writes: “Regardless of effective and well-intentioned teachers, re-entry education, like schools in economically disenfranchised neighborhoods, are designed to continue the coercive disciplinary technology of the carceral network its students are supposed to learn how to escape or transcend.”

    Chris Beha recently finished reading the works of Henry James in toto. The point of the marathon was to have fun, he says on the New Yorker’s Page-Turner blog—not, as his friends sometimes insinuated, to impress people or self-flagellate. For Beha, there’s something wrong with the way the debates about “fun” vs. “difficult” literature have been framed, a fallacy that becomes especially clear in conversations about YA lit. James did more than anyone to “refine the popular form of the novel into a work of high art,” and yet James’s point was still, was always, the fun: He thought a writer ought always “to intensify his whole chance of pleasure.” For the reader, Beha writes, “putting down Harry Potter for Henry James is not one of adulthood’s obligations, like flossing and mortgage payments; it’s one of its rewards, like autonomy and sex.”