Author Archives: leewatkins

Notes on Ursula Le Guin’s “The Dispossessed”

Stepping off a train onto a crowded platform. Anxious glances of the passers-by. Shevek wonders at this anxiety: is it a function of the capitalist economy here? The fact that each of these people must make enough money to live? … Continue reading

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Notes on Nabokov’s “The Seaport”

The whole scene is bright, with sunshine everywhere. Colours: the blue of the sea, the green of the woman’s dress. These things stand out. The sunshine gives colour to everything. Each thing seems to have its own distinct colour: no … Continue reading

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Happenings

In W.H. Auden’s poems, there are “happenings” and there are “ways of happening.” Poets create ways of happening, and this is why such people are generally considered useless – at least by the practical people in our society who concern … Continue reading

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Spengler’s Logic of History

Oswald Spengler tells us that he’s trying something new, a kind of historical study that he calls “predetermining history”: he’s going to use an historian’s methods in order to tell us something of what is going to happen. History is … Continue reading

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The Perfect Critic

In an essay by T.S. Eliot called “The Perfect Critic” we learn, above all, that art criticism is difficult. For one thing, many art critics don’t make art themselves, and so the criticism they write is shaped by their own … Continue reading

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Fantasy and Escapism

Fantasy books, TV shows, and films all provide entertainment and escapism. I enjoy fantasy but I’m troubled by this notion of escape – of using art to “wind down” and “switch off.” It seems to me that this is potentially … Continue reading

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Know Thyself

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “Know Thyself” seems to offer up two possible interpretations, and I wonder whether Coleridge believed self-knowledge was possible or not. The poet asks “Say, canst thou make thyself?” and urges his reader to “Learn first that … Continue reading

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