In an essay for The Atlantic, Thomas Williams criticizes book skeptics, like Kanye West, who proudly admit their disdain of books. Micah Mattix, in turn, criticizes Thomas Williams: "Listen, lots of people never read books. The vast majority of people who have lived on this planet have never read at all. This isn’t a virtue, … Continue reading Reading and Moral Superiority
Novels Against Moralism
In Image Journal, James K.A. Smith writes about the tension between the ethical life (e.g., engaging in social justice) and the aesthetic life (e.g., writing novels and poetry), arguing that a life of genuine faith may actually be closer to the aesthetic life than you might guess. He draws most prominently from the novel Either/Or, … Continue reading Novels Against Moralism
Love in Action Is a Harsh and Dreadful Thing
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.
Living in Tolkien’s Groundhog Day
A journey through the Old Forest looks totally different from my day-to-day existence. Yet this passage from Tolkien is a pretty apt description of what I found life to be like in 2020, and continues to be like in 2021---a description that resonates more deeply with me than the Groundhog Day metaphor.
On Vengeance and Fantasy Fiction
Vengeance is a common theme in fantasy fiction, and it is striking how well certain FF authors tell the truth about what a messy business it is. Are there parallels one could draw to life in America today? I think so. We live in a society where social media offers a robust and pervasive platform for condemning evil people but no framework for forgiving them even when they repent.
The Naive Optimism of Reading Challenging Books
With the new year comes new resolutions, a common one being to read new books that challenge you. The idea is that doing so will expand your mind, make you a better person. But is that the inevitable outcome of such an endeavor? English professor Micah Mattix doesn't think so.
Facebook Was Foreshadowed in 1909 (and a Score of Other Things You Didn’t Know about Science Fiction)
Why is 'Frankenstein' considered the mother of the genre? How did we go from seeing so many utopian stories to dystopian ones? Where did the word "robot" come from? Will SF ever be recognized as "true" literature?
Book Review: If You Like Magic and Jane Austen, You Need to Read ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell’
Susanna Clarke's 'Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell' is no mere fantasy mixed with historical realism. Each page seeps with clever wit, raising poignant questions about our modern relationship with the Otherworldly.