Archive

Charles Petersen

11 February 2013

This was Cavell’s response to logical positivism: to demand that we only speak about what is absolutely true and false, that about that which we cannot speak with certainty, we must be silent, is to demand that we not speak at all—or else that we lie to ourselves about the ambiguity inherent in even the most carefully defined language. More…

Norman Foster’s preliminary plans for the library have not yet been made public. According to a former staff member who has seen them, Foster’s design may well call for the demolition of not just the stacks but of much of the marble facade that stands on the Bryant Park side of the main library. In the facade’s place, we will likely see some kind of ambitious new glass entrance. More…

The New York Public Library has announced a plan to remake its landmark building on 42nd Street. As Joshua Steiner, vice chairman of the board of trustees, put it in 2008, the renovation in many way represents the “further democratization” of the library. By contrast, a staff member with whom I spoke called the plan “the destruction of the research library.” More…

31 October 2011

“Who are they and what are their demands?” everyone immediately demanded to know. The puzzlement showed how the movement that began on September 17 as Occupy Wall Street differs from the great social movements of the past fifty years. It’s another thing entirely to redefine the American populace at large as an excluded group, cast out from the democracy and prosperity that supposedly form the national birthright. More…

26 February 2010

The expectation in the American West, when looking at a map of public and private lands, is one of apparent socialism: the closest this country gets, at least on paper, to the appropriation of property by the people. The numbers are well known: 85 percent of Nevada is owned by the federal government, 57 percent of Utah, 50 percent of Idaho, even 45 percent of California. More…

13 January 2009

You don’t have to be Christian to appreciate Robinson—her work, while close to theology, comes down on the side of poetry, aspiring only to assent, not ultimate truth—but a knowledge of the faith’s dying words and urgent messages may well be required to get her meaning. More…