I’m introducing “Paprika” on Friday at the Rubin Museum


I'm going to be introducing Paprika, Satoshi Kon's anime movie about a team of therapists who have discovered a technology that enables them to enter their patients' dreams, this Friday, March 4, at 9:30pm at the Rubin Museum of Art, 150 West 17th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues) in Manhattan. $7. (I mentioned the movie in passing last summer, when I wrote about Inception for the Paris Review Daily.) Hope to see you there!

Another cup or two

I’ll be answering questions about “Tea and Antipathy,” my New Yorker article about the role that smuggling merchants may have played in fomenting the American Revolution, during a “live chat” on the New Yorker website today (Wednesday, Dec. 15) at 3pm.

If you’re looking for questions to ask me, check out “‘The Revolution May Have Been Astroturfed’?”, a post by J. L. Bell at his blog Boston 1775, in which he fills in some details of the Tea Party story that I didn’t have room for in my New Yorker piece and raises some good questions about the hypothesis I entertain.

Update, Dec. 16: Thanks to all who participated in the live chat, which has now been precipitated into a transcript on the New Yorker website. Meanwhile, over at Boston 1775, J. L. Bell today adds a further supplement to my historiographic blog post by reviewing the scholarship of Oliver Morton Dickerson, who focused on the self-dealing of the British customs service in the American colonies.

Melville’s Secrets: The Walter Harding Lecture, 2010

Yesterday afternoon I gave the 2010 Walter Harding lecture at SUNY Geneseo. The lecture series is named after Walter Harding, who taught for decades in Geneseo and was the preeminent twentieth-century scholar of Henry David Thoreau, and I felt it was a tremendous honor to have been asked. I talked about Melville’s secrets—in particular, about a distorted Platonic myth that I suspect may be present in Moby-Dick. “Ishmael,” I claimed, “might be considered a final, uninvited guest to Plato’s banquet, and his tale a postscript to Diotima’s.”

SUNY Geneseo has already uploaded a video of my talk (perhaps also embedded below, if I’ve coaxed the html sufficiently); a downloadable audio is forthcoming. I’m not going to post a transcript, because I’m hoping to revise the talk into a scholarly paper in the not-too-distant future. To that end, if any of you who heard the talk yesterday or who listen to it online have suggestions, corrections, or comments, please get in touch.

I had a great time at SUNY Geneseo. Many thanks to Marjorie Harding, for the gift that made the lecture series possible; it was an honor to meet the Harding family. I’m very grateful to Geneseo’s English department for their hospitality and great questions. I’m especially grateful to department chair Paul Schacht for his support and guidance, to associate professor Alice Rutkowski for a very kind introduction, and to the college president and English professor Christopher Dahl and his wife Ruth Rowse for a lovely dinner.

Video of n+1’s evangelicalism panel

On 8 December 2009, I moderated a panel, “Evangelicalism and the Contemporary Intellectual,” which was organized by the journal n+1 and hosted by the New School. The panelists were Malcolm Gladwell, Christine Smallwood, and James Wood. N+1 has posted the one-and-a-half-hour video on its website.

Update, Dec. 30: You can also download the video from the Internet Archive.

The View from our window

Matteo Pericoli, Caleb Crain's window in The View from Your Window, 2009

No doubt you have wondered what the mysterious blogger behind Steamboats Are Ruining Everything sees when he looks up from his laptop. The answer (at least when I work at the kitchen table): a lot of sky, and a few backyards in southern Park Slope, Brooklyn. You can see the view for yourself at left, as improved by the art of our friend Matteo Pericoli. Having drawn Manhattan from the inside and the outside, Matteo has returned to draw New York as sixty-three of its writers, architects, designers, and producers see it, in a book titled The City Out My Window. Besides our window in higher-fi, and a few of my thoughts about it, the book features the windows of Mario Batali, Stephen Colbert, Nico Muhly, and Lorin Stein. Matteo promised not to show the interior of anyone's home, and he doesn't, but the views are strangely revelatory anyway—inside-out Peeping-Tomism, somehow. For further sample peeks, including the views of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Wynton Marsalis, check out Matteo's website.