In The Mail

Stuck With Virtue: The American Individual and Our Biotechnological Future by Peter Augustine Lawler

Book Description:

Cloning, gene therapy, stem-cell harvesting—are we on the path to a Huxley-like Brave New World? Not really, argues political philosopher and Kass Commission member Peter Augustine Lawler in Stuck with Virtue: The American Individual and Our Biotechnological Future, even as he admits that we will likely become more obsessive and anxious and will be subjected to new forms of tyranny. Rather, he contends, human nature is such that the biotechnological world to come, despite the best efforts of its proponents, will still fail to make it possible to feel good without being good. It will be harder, Lawler warns, to be virtuous in the future, because we will be more detached than ever from the natural sources of happiness. But we may take some solace in the fact that virtue will still be the best way to live well with what we really know.

With irony and wit, Lawler delivers the good news about the future of the American individual: We’re going to remain free, because the modern effort to make increasingly individualistic human beings at home with themselves and their environments through technological progress cannot succeed. That is the truth and promise, concludes Lawler, of a genuinely postmodern conservatism.

This looks to be quite fascinating but perhaps a bit serious. I like serious and all, but it takes a bit more time and concentration. Just sayin’ . . .

Living the Artist’s Life by Paul Dorrell

Endorsements:

“An intense and personal view of survival in the artbiz. It gives extensive practical and philosophic advice regarding the trials and tribulations of artists and dealers. Young artists might wish to lend an ear to Paul Dorrell’s lively biographic narrative.” Robert Brawley, Painter, Professor, University of Kansas

“An important resource for artists, designers, writers and others who believe in the value of their vision.” Steve Whitten, Director, Alumni & Career Services, Rhode Island School of Design

“The obvious result of years of hard work, years of experience, and a great deal of thought, this is a book that I strongly feel everyone in the arts will benefit from. “Ken Ferguson, Ceramic Artist, Professor Emeritus, Kansas City Art Institute

This one my wife grabbed right away. She has an art degree and knows how tough the artist’s life can be. Looks interesting.


What Love Means to You People by Nancy Kay Shapiro

From Publishers Weekly:

With painstakingly detailed, passionate sex scenes balanced by plenty of insight into its characters’ anguished inner lives, Shapiro’s debut novel dramatically captures love’s roulette of emotions: the electricity of possibility, the pull of youth, the weight of loss. Shapiro depicts the fraught relationship between two New York City men: 42-year-old ad exec Jim Glaser and 23-year-old pretty-boy and aspiring artist Seth McKenna. Pulled together by empathy and animal attraction, Jim and Seth must also navigate undercurrents of pain: Jim still mourns the death of his long-term partner, Zak, and Seth conceals a troubled smalltown Nebraska background that includes a fundamentalist Christian mother, an abusive stepfather and a horrifying teenage experience that has left him emotionally crippled. Afraid of Jim’s pity, Seth paints a much cheerier picture of his upbringing, and when his younger sister, Cassie, suddenly shows up in New York, Seth is terrified she will reveal their history. Bitter that Seth escaped Nebraska and she didn’t until now, Cassie also struggles with but quickly accepts his homosexuality. Fate temporarily calls Seth back to Nebraska, and he and Jim hit a painful low before Shapiro delivers a reassuring if improbable happy ending.

OK, raise your hand if you think this is the type of book I am likely to read . . .

The End of Romance : A Memoir of Love, Sex, and the Mystery of the Violin by Norma Barzman

From Publishers Weekly:

:Barzman’s latest takes place during 10 days in Cremona and Venice, Italy, in 1973-10 days she happened to leave out of her previous memoir, The Red and the Blacklist. Now in her 80s, Barzman isn’t afraid to tell it like it is: “I’m not going to let shame or anything else stop me. In Cremona in 1973, everything came together to free me of my romantic view of love, work, politics-of life itself.” In many ways, the book is a juicy mystery: What are the secret origins of violin-making in Cremona? The mystery, or the “plot” if this were a novel, is cleverly used to propel Barzman’s self-discovery, the real stuff of memoir. Her journey involves confronting anti-Semitism, dealing with her sometimes-ambivalent feelings for her blacklisted screenwriter husband and committing adultery with a man 20 years her junior. Barzman must also come to terms with the real nature of her love-hate relationship with her writer cousin, Henry Myers. It’s a bumpy ride with moments of over-the-top melodrama, but Barzman’s calculated distance and perspective make for an engrossing read.

This is still in the romanced category but its mysterious and historical background makes it more interesting.

About the author

Kevin Holtsberry

I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

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1 Comment

  • Kevin, I remember one pundit remarking in the mid 80s (?) that it was the biologists we should be putting behind barbed wire if we really knew the evil they were capable of. He was prescient. At that time the main Cold War worry was always nuclear.

    I hope the Lawler book is good news. But I am a pessimist. We are into Faustian depths with our playing God. And the biologists won’t just destroy our world as once the physicists threatened. They will make it into a place beyond death. Where God couldn’t exist.

    I come by my pessimism understandably. I was raised with SF. Much of the SF of the 40’s thru 70’s concerned itself with a like worry, primarily mutation, mainly because of the fears raised by atomic radiation.

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