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Brentano, Kafka and Hayek

While working on a Barry Smith related project I was reminded of two fascinating papers by this incredibly productive, eclectic and just downright decent and responsive bloke whose work in ontology has had real and positive practical import for medical science. As you might be aware, many philosophers these days are in the business of self-aggrandizement, “activism posing as…

What makes something “Kafkaesque”?

You can always tell employees of the government by the total vacancy which occupies the space where most other people have faces — John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces [t]he bewildering mechanisms of power in stories such as The Trial also “point to something much more sinister”—the idea that arcane bureaucracies become self-perpetuating and…

Neuroscience Is Ruining the Humanities

This in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Is there a novelist today of whom we can we say, as someone said of Dostoevsky, he “felt thought”? To read Dostoevsky, as Michael Dirda pointed out, is to encounter “souls chafed and lacerated by theories.” Yes, Walker Percy Recent arguments about God or creationism are old hat, despite…

The Autoscopic Author: Kafka and Toole

Once again I have Kafka on my mind. I’ve been amending a review of Toole’s biography Butterfly in the Typewriter: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of A Confederacy of Dunces by the very excellent Cory MacLauchlin to appear in the Journal of Mind and Behavior. Here is a snippet: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The…

John Kennedy Toole

Speaking of autoscopic doubles (Toole-Ignatius Reilly) I’m working on a review of Cory MacLauchlin’s Butterfly in the Typewriter: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of A Confederacy of Dunces. Cory reminds us that today marks the death of Toole. It is often said “how can one assess the greatness of the author on one work?”…

Life as Literature

I’ve been thinking a lot about my instinctive predilection for writers whose life and work bleed into each other, an attraction I felt long before I was fully aware of their biographical details. The first was Kafka; the second Rolfe; the third Musil; the fourth Mishima and the fifth, Toole. I’ve come to the conclusion that these philosophical novelists…

Franz Kafka

Commemorating Kafka’s birthday. If ever there was a mind that captured the modern condition (our current condition) it is Franz Kafka. Not only that, he must rate as the preeminent novelist of ideas without them being the ideas of the learned man trotted out self-consciously by most (academics and literati) who would be flattered by that…