Ghost tours

“Ghost tours create a world where it’s possible to understand how the past and the present live together.” Eillie Anzilotti writes: We’ve formed a half-circle around the lantern, and Kate gestures behind her. The lights of Independence Hall flicker in the distance, and a statue of a man holding aloft a rolled-up copy of the Constitution…

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Basic social needs

Albert Wenger writes: As part of my thinking about a possible World After Capital, I have been looking into human needs. A framework that is frequently mentioned in that context is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is a great example of something that remains a popular reference point despite being largely a conjecture and having been superseded…

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Conserving what’s already lost

Ben Novak wrote in response to recent posts in Pierre Ryckmans, and I want to share that here. Ben makes an important point worth sharing. I asked yesterday: “What are great stone memorials for if not conveying a sense that even though some stories have a greatness that hints at infinity, the storyteller himself was made for death?”…

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Conserving the timeless and fleeting

I wrote the other day about Pierre Ryckmans, and want to share another aspect of his New York Review of Books feature that struck me. It deals with concepts I’ve been working through for a while relating to locality, sense of place, and cultural memory: In one of [Ryckmans’] most interesting and provocative essays on Chinese culture, he tries to…

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13th & Locust

There are so many places that take on new light and meaning when you discover their history. In Philadelphia, 4th & High Street became one of those places for me. Now thanks to Davis Shaver I can add 13th and Locust Street to my list of special places. First, look at this lost architecture: To the point: An…

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Applauded, but wrong…

…or: Marginalized, but right. A fascinating piece in the New York Review of Books on Pierre Ryckmans and his book The Hall of Uselessness: Collected Essays. Ryckmans demonstrated an understanding of the scale of human and cultural destruction happening in China since the Cultural Revolution far better than his academic colleagues. Yet his insight into the brutality of the revolution and tens of millions…

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Experiments with secular atheism

Brandon McGinley writes: John Adams famously wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” We seem to be hell-bent on testing his prescience. Adams’s admonition is often quoted as proof that the American founders desired to form a government based on…

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Aesthetic > forensic

I’ve been watching Westworld, and am not sure I’m liking what I’ve found in its universe yet. It doesn’t seem like there’s much depth, but I’ll give it a few more episodes. In the meantime, David Roark writes on a valuable distinction that Westworld raised in his life: I started paying attention on the internet,…

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Signature win

Amazing game last night. Penn State v. Ohio State is my favorite rivalry, and last night way exceeded my expectations. I had expected us to lose. Entering the fourth quarter down 21-7, I was finishing a stout, working on my MacBook, only semi-watching the game. There was that feeling in the pit of my stomach that…

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No-whe-ahhh

William Eggleston was recently profiled in the New York Times, which is how I discovered him. He is more interesting to me than his work, which is probably the root cause of every great creator’s uncomfortable relationship with the public. “The supreme colourist of American photography” is how he’s described in a separate piece I’m excerpting:…

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