Aladdin Insane: Bowie, RBG, and the New Media Stages of Grief

Her death, like those of Bowie, Boseman, and countless other beloved public figures in the last few years, was a blow. But it was also big news. And big news means big views on social media. And so the procession of public mourning began within minutes of the sad news breaking. And almost as quickly came the critiques…

Speaking of…

The banality of the human god has deep roots in Christianity (the first depiction in art of God the Father as a human figure dates to the 4th century CE, around the time of the Nicene Creed). For most of my youth, I did not question why anyone would depict divinity this way. I didn’t understand religious metaphor.

Extraordinarily Normal People

Am I grieving? Is that what this is? Fiction that engages us deeply in the other can be “practice” for engagement with an actual other. It can also help us imagine love or practice grief. The Greeks, who invented Tragedy, obviously knew this. We need imaginary worlds to help us learn to live in the real one (and, perhaps, occasionally to transform it into one a little closer to what we imagine).

Schlemiel, schlimazel: why so serious, man?

There have been few characters in recent film as unfortunate as Larry Gopnik, the middle-aged professor of quantum physics, whose life is falling apart around him: his wife has kicked him out of the house and filed for a gett — a ritual divorce — so that she can marry recently widowed family friend Sy Abelman (the “Serious Man” of the title)….[SPOILERS AHEAD]

A Scythe of the Times

True story: After graduating college I set off with a dog-eared copy of Anna Karenina in my rucksack, inspired by the character of Kostya Levin, Tolstoy’s alter ego in the celebrated novel, to experience life as a migrant agricultural worker. Little did I know this would be the first stop on an incredible journey.

Trayf or Consequences

Perhaps best known to Americans as a common 19th century Biblical defense of slavery, the “Curse of Ham” not only resonates in white supremacist circles with deep connections to Christian denominations, but in conservative religious circles where interpretations emphasize the often vividly imagined sexual crimes of Canaan that justify violence against the LGBTQ community.