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1980 / January | View All Issues |

January 1980

Letters

4-5, 8 PDF

Letters·

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Notice

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Awards·

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The easy chair

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Divining rods·

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Notes for a new decade

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Winning at dominoes·

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Asia is selling itself on capitalism

Poetry

27 PDF

Call the hour·

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Article

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Coddled criminals·

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Corporate convictions

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37-56 PDF

The McCord file·

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In our time

57 PDF

In our time·

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In our time

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The invisible wife·

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Article

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Ahmed and the gamekeepers·

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Violating Africa

Poetry

68 PDF

From Ecclesiastes·

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Books

69-72 PDF

Naipaul’s losers·

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Lines of sight

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Lines of sight·

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Lines of sight

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Modern architecture·

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Books

77-81 PDF

Poets on the fringe·

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The breadth of sensibility

Poetry

79 PDF

“Illness as metaphor”–for Susan Sontag·

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In print

82, 86-87 PDF

In print·

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In print

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Discovery rewarded·

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Finding Elias Canetti

American miscellany

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American miscellany·

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Puzzle

92 PDF

Clubs for clues·

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I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:

The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.

leadership
service
integrity
creativity

Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.

Article
The Prisoner of Sex·

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“It is disappointing that parts of Purity read as though Franzen urgently wanted to telegraph a message to anyone who would defend his fiction from charges of chauvinism: ‘No, you’ve got me wrong. I really am sexist.’”
Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
Gangs of Karachi·

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“In Karachi, sometimes only the thinnest of polite fictions separates the politicians from the men who kill and extort on their behalf.”
Photograph © Asim Rafiqui/NOOR Images
Article
Weed Whackers·

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“Defining 'native' and 'invasive' in an ever-shifting natural world poses some problems. The camel, after all, is native to North America, though it went extinct here 8,000 years ago, while the sacrosanct redwood tree is invasive, having snuck in at some point in the past 65 million years.”
Photograph by Chad Ress
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The Neoliberal Arts·

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“College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords, mainly those three.”
Artwork by Julie Cockburn

Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:

65

An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.

A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.

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