Author Eyal Press signs copies of Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times at this year’s First-Year Experience conference.
… All polls of opinion must be superficial. They reveal the top of what people think, organized into common sense. What people really think is always partly hidden. Only way to get at it is through a study of their language—a study in depth: its metaphors, structures, tone. And of their gestures, way of moving in space. All orthodoxy, whether religious or political, is an enemy of language; all orthodoxy postulates “the usual expression.”
From As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks 1964-1980, by Susan Sontag. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, page 406. This quotation is from 1976.
“Average is over … Everyone needs to think when it comes to education like an immigrant. How does an immigrant think? He thinks ‘Nothing is owed to me. I don’t have a place waiting for me at Harvard. I better understand the world I’m living in, and I better work harder than the next guy.’”
Thomas Friedman discusses education in America and climate change on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight. Friedman’s latest book, That Used to Be Us, is now out in Paperback.
In PRIVACY, American essayist and Harper’s contributing editor Garret Keizer offers a brilliant, literate look at our strip-searched, over-shared, viral-videoed existence.
Interview with American Public Media’s ‘Marketplace’
Kai Ryssdal (host): We talk — especially now in this digital age — all the time about privacy. We talk about it digitally, we talk about it in media, we talk about it socially. But it’s curious, as you point out, that privacy appears nowhere in the Constitution, nowhere in the Declaration of the Independence. It’s a reasonably recent phenomenon or discovery, I guess.
Garret Keizer: It is. It has been derived certainly from a thoughtful consideration and application of the Constitution, but it doesn’t appear in a U.S. court case until 1881 and it doesn’t appear in a Supreme Court case, to my knowledge, until the ’20s. You could aruge that in the original Constitution, there’s nothing to outlaw chattel slavery; there’s nothing that addresses the equality of the sexes; there’s nothing that guarantees people the right to love whom they please, and yet we’ve derived that understanding from that document. What I like to say is that love can appear in a relationship long before the word actually gets said. I think privacy appeared in our social contract long before we began to use the word.
Interview with Vermont Public Radio’s Vermont Edition
Is privacy under threat?
Garret Keizer: I do think that privacy is under threat but even more than that I think that the social contract on which privacy depends is under threat. One of the interesting things about privacy, one of the things that attracted me to it as a subject, is that we tend to think of it, or at least I tend to think of it, as ‘me alone, me apart from other people. I’m in my private place.’ But in fact my ability to think of that as a right depends entirely on my covenant with others; it depends on the social contract. If there’s no social contract, then my so-called right to privacy is not a right at all; it’s a privilege that I maintain by money or by might. It’s as good as the number of people I can club or the number of people I can pay to club whenever I feel that my privacy is threatened.
I would think that in certain trends that we see, most notably the widening income gap, we’re seeing an erosion of that social contract, which implies an erosion of other rights as well. I don’t think that there’s anything mysterious about our loss of privacy when we put it against the background of other trends, including ironically—but maybe not really ironically—the increasing trend of privatization. We privatize public institutions—education, the military, the postal service—we privatize those institutions and we discover that we have less privacy. Once public life erodes so does privacy, and vice versa.
Praise for PRIVACY
In her review for Salon, Laura Miller said,“[PRIVACY is] a series of provocative juxtapositions and suggestive arguments” and said “It encourages its readers to reframe how they think of privacy before it’s too late. Read it to jolt your imagination into new territory, and to understand why the privacy that many of us sacrifice so readily ought to be held more dear. … there’s an abundance of nutritional thought in ‘Privacy.’ Keizer has a way of turning lazy notions inside out to exhibit their fallacies.”
New in paperback from Picador, on sale this week, is one for all you international politics buffs.
The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times by Mohammed ElBaradei
“ElBaradei has interesting stories to tell, and he tells them with verve… . Anyone wishing to glimpse some of the central tensions in twenty-first-century international diplomacy should read The Age of Deception.” —The Washington Post
“Foreign policy leaders and wonks everywhere will find plenty in this memoir to stir debates about the most vital task for global survival—the need to stop the spread of nuclear weapons… . That quest is ElBaradei’s story… . The Age of Deception provides the grist for serious debate.” —The New York Times Book Review
As the director of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei played a key role in the most high-stakes conflicts of our time. Contending with the Bush administration’s assault on Iraq, the nuclear aspirations of North Korea, and the West’s standoff with Iran, he emerged as a lone independent voice, uniquely credible in the Arab world and the West alike. As questions over Iran’s nuclear capacity continue to fill the media, ElBaradei’s account is both enlightening and fascinating.
ElBaradei takes us inside the nuclear fray, from behind-the-scenes exchanges in Washington and Baghdad to the streets of Pyongyang and the trail of Pakistani nuclear smugglers. He decries an us-versus-them approach and insists on the necessity of relentless diplomacy. “We have no other choice,” ElBaradei says. “The other option is unthinkable.”
Mohamed ElBaradei served as Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1997 to 2009. He was awarded the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, together with the IAEA, and has also been honored with the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development; the Nile Collar; and the Roosevelt Institute’s Four Freedoms Award. Founder of the Egyptian opposition movement The National Association for Change, ElBaradei lives in Cairo.
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