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Tag: Leo Tolstoy

Foxy Metaphors: Isaiah Berlin’s Playful Binaries

Foxy Metaphors: Isaiah Berlin’s Playful Binaries

Isaiah Berlin’s classic study of Tolstoy, The Hedgehog and the Fox (1953), is too short and just right at the same time. The title and premise are taken from a line by the Greek poet Archilochus, which reads (at least in one translation), “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” From that line, Berlin plays with dichotomies and various binaries, without taking himself too seriously. He puts writers and thinkers in two camps, and throws…

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The Last Station

The Last Station

Back to back films, biopics of great writers. Thinking about the trade offs. First, Sylvia Plath and then Leo Tolstoy. Marked contrast between the two on so many levels. Most obviously, Tolstoy lived a long life, dying at the ripe old age of 82, while Sylvia Plath took her own life at the age of 30:  Dying Is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well. Both movies portray the struggle, the conflict of life against art and…

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Project for the Self

Project for the Self

What has it? What brings it? What gives meaning to our existence in the here and now? The afterlife? Paradoxes aside, the search for meaning has meaning itself, above and beyond any cleverness in the equation. To express that meaning, however, has become problematic in our late date – our cynical, jaded, post-post-guileless world. Post-guileless in the sense that we no longer can stop self-referencing or self-consciousness enough to just be. Enough to let be be the finale of seem,…

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Meaningful Searches, Exits and Traps

Meaningful Searches, Exits and Traps

The (Post-)Modern Search for Meaning: Tolstoy’s Escape from the Trap A Reflection by Sean Howard For the last few years, a close friend has been complaining, with light touch but increasingly heavy heart, of a deep-seated creative malaise, an impasse in his search for an authentic voice and message. Among other sources, his depression can be traced to his intense and academically accomplished engagement with Wittgenstein, whose humbling exposé of the ‘language game’ – and, therewith, what my friend calls…

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