Free Course in Italian

Do you want to learn Italian? You can do it without any audio help, and without any expense, by using the following course. I will include exercises here, but exercises can easily be had. The important thing is to get the basic rules where you can reach them. Vocabulary can be increased with a dictionary or any sample of the language. Those can be had in soc.culture.italian

With very few exceptions, Italian words are pronounced according to simple consistent rules. There is no need to learn every read more

Sex in the USA

January, 1999
When Woody Allen was accused of child molesting, a TV interviewer asked him if he had done it. Instead of answering, Woody pointed out the improbability that if he were going to do such a thing he would have chosen to do it at an unusually inconvenient time in a house full of people (as was alleged). Whether or not Woody is innocent, I think he is smart. If he had responded as the interviewer probably wanted him to, saying, “I would never do that! This is my daughter read more

Otalp

“The nonchalance of boys who are sure of a dinner, and would disdain as much as a lord to do or say aught to conciliate one, is the healthy attitude of human nature.”

Emerson said that. He also said that if superior men departed on a voyage in chains, one could be sure that the chains would be on the captors by the end of the voyage. From what I am about to tell, it may appear that I bring this up in order to claim superiority. I do not. Rather, I wish to point out a particular case read more

Salvatore

I’m an assistant D.A., a lawyer in other words, and people don’t think too highly of us. But let me tell you something: the rest of society doesn’t seem, from a lawyer’s point of view, to necessarily have its act together either. Maybe it takes a lawyer to get an honest picture of things, without any prettyfication. I mean, we encounter all types from the worst angle. We’re presented with every conceivable, or at least every conceived, perversion. Let me just give read more

Cleaning

When they gave me tenure at the university I flew out to Wyoming to give my mother the good news face to face. I knew she’d appreciate that, and it had been a while, quite a while in fact, since I’d seen her. It was not the easiest time for such a trip. My new book was just coming out, with all the last-minute changes and all the obligations that involves. But I was able to grade student papers on the plane. And I needed the change of scene. Even my familiar boyhood home constituted read more

Architecture

Talking in words about architecture is one of the most difficult activities I am aware of. Everyday talk along the lines of “Meet me in front of the yellow building on the corner,” is not too hard. Nor is commentary on a single building along the lines of “I like that one,” “It’s top-heavy,” “It’s joyful,” “It looks cheap,” “Why couldn’t they have used darker bricks?” But comparisons of buildings, descriptions read more

Derrida, Freud's Grandson, and My Dog

Sometimes my dog plays a game. It’s the first game he taught himself, and he plays it with all his toys. He’ll hold a toy in his mouth and run in frantic circles, and then toss the toy over his head. It’ll take him a long time to stop running and calm down. When he does he’ll begin sniffing for the toy, sniffing and not looking, for he won’t see the thing even if it’s right in front of him. He’ll sniff worriedly. But when he spots the toy, he’ll read more

Sisyphus's Blues

Good Morning, Blues.

How do you do?

I’m doing all right.

Good Morning. How are you?

The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

These words, both sets, are about an edge. They are about neither misery nor an easy comfort. Camus’ essay has a lot wrong with it. Camusian absurdity is too much a disappointed attempt to fulfill a desire we do not all share and are gradually putting behind us. It is too much a history. And the read more

Art

A high school teacher took his students to a museum where, among other things, they were to go into a particular room, one at a time, and select a great painting which they would tell the teacher about immediately upon leaving the room by the other door. One student reported that he had been unable to find “a great painting” in the room at all. Most of the others, on the contrary, reported having had a difficult time deciding which of the great paintings to talk about. Strangely enough, read more