Posts Tagged: Caleb Crain

The Story Is the Concepts: Philosophizing with Ryan Ruby

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Ryan Ruby talks about his debut novel The Zero and the One, the challenges of pacing and plot, and the fun of inventing a book of philosophy for the novel. ...more

Cyber Stalking Really Is That Bad

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Caleb Crain over at The Nation digs in deep to James Lasdun’s new memoir, Give Me Everything You Have, the seemingly terrifying story of his “persecution on the internet by a clever, mentally unbalanced person.”

The cyber-harassment (a wildly tame description of Lasdun’s struggle) was the work of a former student of Lasdun’s, who tormented him over six years with increasingly delusional and threatening emails.

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On Publishing and Letting Go

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“It’s even possible that there’s something retrospective in the nature of writing itself. Probably every writer’s first piece of writing, if it were possible to excavate such a thing, would be found to look backward. Writing tries to fix the past—to hold it in place and sometimes in imagination to improve it.”

Author Caleb Crain reflects on the difficulties of letting go of a novel.

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Notable New York, This Week 12/7 – 12/13

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This week in New York Malcolm Gladwell and James Wood talk about Evangelicalism and the Contemporary Intellectual, members of the Velvet Underground reunite at the New York Public Library, 60 Writers/60 Places screens, Anne Carson performs, Andy Warhol films get shown at Anthology Film Archives, Mark Doty and Marie Howe read, and Voice 4 Vision Puppet Festival presents odes to Salvador Dalí and Fernando Pessoa.

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Not the Greatest Villains Then Living in the World

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The other week, The New Yorker published an excellent article by Caleb Crain about the peculiar economics and politics of life aboard a pirate ship in the 17th and 18th centuries. When the captain of an English slave ship was captured by pirates in 1719, his crew begged the pirates to spare his life, since they “never were with a better man.” Thus he lived to tell the tale (and write it up).

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The Cost of a Thing

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A couple months ago, we wrote about Matthew Crawford’s book Shop Class as Soulcraft, and around the same time I read another interesting review of the book, by Caleb Crain. (I refrained from posting about it at the time to avoid Crain-overkill.) In it, he describes the growth of wages, and consequently, leisure during the industrial revolution, and then goes on to produce an amazing quote from Thoreau about money:

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Decaying Socialism: Good For Struggling Writers?

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Craig Fehrman’s post earlier today, The Freelance Life, got me thinking about something interesting I read in The Wreck of the Henry Clay last week.

In a post from April 2003, entitled Marx’s Neurosis About Money, Caleb Crain quoted Edmund Wilson to the effect that “Karl Marx’s social theories suited his psychological needs as an ambitious writer who was chronically broke and less than honest with himself about money.”

This passage reminded Crain of a “half-baked idea” he’d had while living in Prague, at a time when “socialism had been so recently overturned that capitalism had not yet set in.”

Namely, the idea was that socialism presents, to the struggling writer, an “awfully convenient arrangement”: under capitalism, if a writer takes a low-paying, intellectually undemanding job in order to reserve something for his writing, he is subject to self-doubt (owing to the lack of success implied by a lack of money); whereas under socialism, jobs that are intellectually demanding don’t pay much more than undemanding ones, and moreover they make you complicit with the regime, so a writer is free — perhaps even obligated!

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