Tag: Benjamin Wachs

Why Canêt –Dead Poets Society” Get Any Love?


The legendary movie about the conflict between rote learning and passionate engagement with the humanities at a boys prep school in the 1950s recently celebrated its 20th anniversary—and came in for a resounding barrage of criticism. Kevin Dettmar, an English professor at Pomona College, penned a piece for The Atlantic entitled “Dead Poets Society Is… Read more »

The sad split between intellectual culture and human nature – a little light reading


A conversation with a fellow writer turned into miniature a culture war last month when I mentioned that I didn’t believe that the human mind can be reduced to purely biochemical processes – that we are in fact more than a highly complicated biological machine. “Really?” my friend said.  He was baffled.  “I’ve never met… Read more »

We turn into villains because we don’t know how to be heroes: the appeal of “evil” in the 21st century


Are we addicted to evil? That’s the provocative question asked by Stephen Metcalf in an article for Slate.com. By piecing together the etymology of the work “amok” (as in, “he ran amok”), examining the scripted quality of media coverage of spree violence like the shootings in Aurora, and looking at the difference between the Batman… Read more »

Our Music Is Getting Sadder. What Does That Say About Us?


Photo by Jo Fjompenissedalheibakke If you get depressed when you turn on the radio, it could be the news – or it could be the music.  According to new research, pop music has gotten significantly sadder over the last half-century.  That’s measured in terms of tempo (it’s gotten slower), key (minor keys have come to predominate),… Read more »

Facebook Isn’t Making Us Lonely, But It’s Making It Hard For Us To Be Anything Else


There are a lot of hypotheticals around the question: “if we are lonelier, is our technology to blame?” A recent article in The Atlantic says “yes” and “yes,” with the title alone being a giveaway: “Is Facebook Making us Lonely?” Writing in Slate, Eric Klinenberg (author of “Going Solo”) says “no” and “no.” We’re not… Read more »

In the 21st century, being a “neurotic” is a good thing


Did you know we’re running out of neurotics? According to an essay in the New York Times, “one modern American type is slipping into the past without a rattle or even its familiar whimper – the neurotic.” The problem, though, isn’t that there are too few neurotics in the 21st century: it’s that there are… Read more »

How not to study the “web generation”


Is constant immersion in digital technology changing kids’ brains for better or for worse? A recent Pew poll of experts that is now getting a lot of media attention determined that: 55% of people polled thing it’s for the better, and 43% think it’s for worse. Well, gee, that was helpful. The inconclusive results aside,… Read more »