E Unibus Pluram, David Foster Wallace (1990)

Originally published in The Review of Contemporary Fiction, this essay sketches a loose history of the American television industry advertising, U.S. fiction and advertisement. The title “E Unibus Pluram” means “from one, many” and is a solipsistic play on the American motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” which means “out of many, one.” While Wallace acknowledges that TV is fun, most evident from the fact that the average American watches … Continue reading E Unibus Pluram, David Foster Wallace (1990)

Politics and Conscience, Vaclav Havel

In February 1984, Václav Havel wrote this speech on the occassion of receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Toulouse. He was unable to deliver the speech on 14 May 1984 and was represented by English Playwright Tom Stoppard. The essay first appeared in Czech in The Natural World as Political Problem: Essays on Modern Man (Prague, 1984). Erazim Kohák and Roger Scruton translated … Continue reading Politics and Conscience, Vaclav Havel

Philosophy of Humor, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

First published Tue Nov 20, 2012; substantive revision Wed Sep 28, 2016 Although most people value humor, philosophers have said little about it, and what they have said is largely critical. Three traditional theories of laughter and humor are examined, along with the theory that humor evolved from mock-aggressive play in apes. Understanding humor as play helps counter the traditional objections to it and reveals … Continue reading Philosophy of Humor, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Roger Federer as Religious Experience, David Foster Wallace

First published in the NY Times Sports section on August 20 2006 Almost anyone who loves tennis and follows the men’s tour on television has, over the last few years, had what might be termed Federer Moments. These are times, as you watch the young Swiss play, when the jaw drops and eyes protrude and sounds are made that bring spouses in from other rooms … Continue reading Roger Federer as Religious Experience, David Foster Wallace