"Will Artificial Intelligence Kill College Writing?" asks a professor in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Micah Mattix gives what I think is a brief and thoughtful response: This is one of the problems with teaching writing exclusively as a tool. Most tools are replaceable. But I don’t think writing—real writing—is in any danger of being … Continue reading Whether AI Will Replace Writing
From chapter 48 of Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson: "Fisheye has taken what appears to be an instruction manual from the heavy black suitcase. It is a miniature three-ring binder with pages of laser-printed text. The binder is just a cheap unmarked one bought from a stationery store. In these respects, it is perfectly familiar to … Continue reading Job Security
In college and graduate school I studied the art and theory of rhetoric. I am something of a nerd (shocker, if you read anything on this blog), and so as a fresh young student I was surprised and delighted to discover that such questions have occupied the minds of great thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, … Continue reading A Rare Example of Responsible Rhetoric
English professor Scott Newstok has feelings about the value of the Renaissance education model. In an interview with Brett McKay, he argues that education in general should focus less on passing tests and more on sharpening students' ability to think and write. McKay asks him why the Renaissance model of education is so effective in … Continue reading Why Renaissance Educators Were “Incredibly Invested” in the Verbal Arts
In her introduction to the April issue of Comment magazine, Anne Snyder begins with a troubling description of how citizens in the US are overwhelmed by current events and the brokenness of the world, and exhausted by incessant demands to take part in the culture wars. We no longer trust institutions such as "the church, … Continue reading Spheres and Lanes
Robin Sloan in his July 2022 newsletter writes about watching every movie ever made by the beloved Japanese anime director Hayao Miyazaki. Scroll to the end to read his observations. Here's what he says about Kiki's Delivery Service: There is so much kindness in so many of Miyazaki’s movies. Plots animated by kindness. If people … Continue reading Plots Animated by Kindness
You might think that Robert Eggers was exaggerating when he said we live in a "tiresome, lame, commercial culture now". I thought he might be. Didn't America produce a bunch of good movies, books, and music in the past decade? Then I read the following: American culture has exhausted itself. It is running on fumes. … Continue reading Exhausted Culture
For years I have tried to navigate a healthy relationship with social media, with limited success. Though I deleted Twitter from my phone and silenced my Facebook notifications, I became attached to Instagram and was still checking it (and Facebook) many times a day. That changed a week ago after I listened to a podcast on digital minimalism. The podcast didn't just bring up the usual arguments against social media. It presented an attractive vision of focused living. That combination---damning evidence and the beauty of a more fulfilled life---is what finally pushed me to go on a social media fast.
A dialogue between Madame Hohlakov and Elder Zossima in 'The Brothers Karamazov' provides a troubling yet vital portrait of what it means to love others. It is a portrait that flies in the face of the reward systems of social media.
The toxic rage over the abortion debate, where opponents are merely shouting their criticisms and assuming evil intentions without actually listening to each other, reveals a deeper social problem: A contempt for debate itself. And a contempt for debate is ultimately a recipe for the erosion of democracy. Debate is the price of our form of government. If you're not willing to pay it, then don't be surprised when you lose it.