Recent links of note:
“The Most Gullible Man in Cambridge”
by Kera Bolonik, New York Magazine
Every age has its own bogeymen, cut and tailored according to its anxieties and insecurities. Jack the Ripper, for instance, held Victorian England rapt with fear in the 1880s; a hundred years later, a pair of Teds, Bundy and Kaczynski, punched a hole clean through the American illusion of domestic tranquility. Comparatively wanting in the bloodshed department, the latest candidates for this ignominious mantle make their case on the basis of a particularly insidious brand of sadism, one that could only belong to the present day. Make that the present intellectual climate—where else could such mental contortion and purblind self-flagellation as this tale involves take place? Over the course of three years, Maria-Pia Shuman and the Harvard doctoral student Mischa Haider allegedly befriended, entrapped, and defrauded the Harvard Law professor Bruce Hay with such wide-ranging conceits as identity theft, bogus Title IX complaints, and a dangling paternity claim. At one point, the pair even took possession of the poor professor’s house, leaving him and his family to live in a nearby apartment for months. Hay is currently on administrative leave while Harvard investigates his case. But what, you inquire, were these con artists after? Hay likely wondered himself—that is, before he received a text from an unknown number in May 2018: “Oh and as to your quest for motives? Don’t bother. I just really hate the patriarchy, that’s it.” Evidently, Hay is not their first victim, either. Personally, I found Bonnie and Clyde’s outlaw bit more compelling.
“Warren Kanders quits Whitney Board after Tear Gas Protests”
by Robin Pogrebin and Elizabeth Harris, The New York Times
This is becoming something of a tradition. Two years after the uproar over Dana Schutz’s painting of Emmett Till’s open casket, the pieces on display at the Whitney Biennial have once again ceded the stage to the ritual clanging of pots and pans. Warren Kanders, who has given over $10 million to the Whitney in his thirteen years as a board member, resigned from his post of vice chairman Thursday morning, much to the delight of those clamoring for his removal. Kanders is the owner of Safariland, a manufacturer of law enforcement and military supplies such as holsters, body armor, and forensics technology. And tear gas—a “chemical weapon” according to some of Kanders’s critics, who complained that his company supplied the non-lethal substance for use against migrants at the United States–Mexico border. Eight artists withdrew their work as part of the protest; thankfully, with Kanders now gone, officials have deemed it safe to reintroduce them into their natural habitat. Meanwhile, Vegas has started covering bets on the target of the 2021 protests, purportedly in development in a bohemian hinterland somewhere on the West Coast.
“Was the poet John Keats a graverobber?”
by Kelly Grovier, BBC Culture
The Romantic poet John Keats—who contracted tuberculosis at the young age of twenty-three and succumbed to it at twenty-five—had a preoccupation with death well documented by biographers and critics alike. But likely none has gone so far as to draw the conclusions that Kelly Grovier, writing for BBC Culture, tempts us to make about the extent of his obsession. In a rather curious exercise in historical and literary interpretation, Grovier unearths evidence to suggest that Keats may have had tactile inspiration for his more cemeterial turns of phrase. At the sort of medical school where Keats enrolled in 1815, doctors frequently arranged, through illicit means, to acquire recently buried corpses for their research. One assumes that, in keeping with the time-worn tradition, they enlisted students for their dirty work. Keats, the theory goes, was one of them. So for us his poetry, always hinting at some covert and transcendent meaning, seems even more otherworldly in light of the biographical facts. Did he actually steal bodies from their graves? Probably not. But did the notion cross his mind? Harder to say.
From our pages:
“Is East always East?”
by Dominic Green