Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 122

aliens at RoswellHere it is, our regular Friday diet of suggested readings for the weekend:

A cultural anthropological field trip among the ufologists.

Is biography a thoroughly reprehensible genre? Or maybe only partially so?

Do you have any mirage friend? Should you get rid of them?

Someone familiar with the environmental literature checks Steven Pinker and finds him wanting. Again.

A different take from the currently dominant one on Monica Lewinsky.


Please notice that the duration of the comments window is three days (including publication day), and that comments are moderated for relevance (to the post one is allegedly commenting on), redundancy (not good), and tone (constructive is what we aim for). This applies to both the suggested readings and the regular posts. Also, keep ‘em short, this is a comments section, not your own blog. Thanks!

45 thoughts on “Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 122

  1. wtc48

    synred: “I really like Hellman’s autobiography/memoir. A lot of it was manufactured.”

    All of it, according to Mary McCarthy: “every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alan White

    Across the course of my life it seems to me that biographies have shifted from honorific paeans or horrid revelation, depending on whether you were Einstein or Hitler, to salacious tell-tale for everyone. And of course since we all have feet of clay salaciousness can always find a way, even for Mother Teresa. There’s a reason we have the country we have today–we not only have literally bought into the dark sides of human nature in purchasing tell-all biographies, but we have found a way to admire all that darkness too, taking it for some kind of jaundiced light. Just talk to Trump’s base–they love Agent Orange.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Alan White

    Yes Socratic. As I said–none of us–not even the best of us–is beyond reproach. My comment was based on a lifetime of reading Einstein bios. A genius, a questionable husband and father, a hero of liberal social advocacy who finally put his imprimatur on the a-bomb, a sexist. . . A jumble of values. Like me, only really creative when it comes to space, time, and gravity.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. wtc48

    Alan: “we have found a way to admire all that darkness too, taking it for some kind of jaundiced light. Just talk to Trump’s base–they love Agent Orange.”

    It’s as if Freud were to ask “How would civilization be if the Id were put in charge?”


  5. brodix


    How about rephrasing that?

    How would 21st century, metastatic capitalist America be, if the Ego were put in charge?

    Not to say civilization is more civilized, but the hubris thing is being taken to extremes.

    When this wave crashes….


  6. Mark Shulgasser

    Thanks, Brodix, for the Newton biography review. Funny that the author condescends to tell his readers who Athanasius was, but pretends to assume that we all know all about the Ash’arites and the Mu’tazila.


  7. brodix


    Keep in mind it is a plot to get us to buy and read the book. Which I would, if it wasn’t for the job taking up so much otherwise useful time.


  8. brodix

    I would also argue with his efforts to find a more pure monotheism. The problem with monotheism is a spiritual absolute would be the essence from which we rise, not an ideal from which we fell, while the Trinity was a reversion to the pantheistic year gods and the circularity of nature. As the Catholic church sought to present itself as immortal, the ability to adapt was excluded. So the eventual reset button was Luther.
    Islam tries to be more absolutist and consequently keeps finding itself stuck in the 7th century.

    Liked by 1 person

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