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Welcoming Evil, Layoffs, and Einstein in Bohemia

Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of Charles University in Prague. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Good morning. Einstein spent 16 months in Bohemia. Nothing much happened while he was there, but that doesn’t mean it was insignificant: “Einstein spent those 16 months as a professor of theoretical physics at the German University of Prague. He arrived intending to stay. He made a few important friends, played some chamber music, struggled with static theory, took a lot of walks, and then he left. For Gordin, the banality of Einstein’s time in Prague is the point. Einstein in Bohemia is as much a series of essays on historical method and memory as it is a biography that uses Einsteinian ideas about perspective and spacetime to riff about the relationship between past and present, space and place. It’s also very much a book about Prague. It works in movements, looking backward and forward from Einstein’s Bohemian interlude to explore issues of biography, physics, Czech and German nationalism, the philosophy of science, literature, Jewishness, and public monuments. It is best savored in chunks, to better indulge in moments of reflection.”

Layoffs are starting to pile up. The Strand has laid off 188. The Banff Center lays off 400. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has not laid anyone off yet but has said that they are inevitable.

The co-creator of Astérix has died. He was 92—though Astérix was never the same, my wife told me this morning, after René Goscinny died in 1977.

John Wilson has an eclectic pandemic reading list. Check it out. And if you missed our reader-sourced list, you can find it here.

I think this review of the late Glenn O’Brien’s Intelligence for Dummies: Essays and Other Collected Writings is supposed to make him seem an original. It had the opposite effect on me. He seems, rather, a dime a dozen. It also reminds us that the art world has been decadent for a long time and that the decline of the glossy has been no great loss.

 

Essay of the Day:

In The Hedgehog Review, Paul Cantor writes about the “invitation motif” in horror stories. Evil is always invited in:

“We believe that good and evil are polar opposites, and therefore that, when evil enters the lives of good people, it does so wholly from outside, as a completely alien force. Good people are in no way responsible for or even implicated in the invasion of evil. But the folk wisdom embodied in vampire lore knows better. As innocent as good people may appear to be, if they were not somehow open to the influence of evil, they could not be possessed by it. It may sound like blaming the victim, but folklore is relentless, and it suspects that good people must have some affinity with the evil they claim to abhor and reject. That is why in so many horror stories the monster comes to mirror the hero or heroine.”

Read the rest.

Image: Trier in 1900

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about the author

Micah Mattix is the literary editor of The American Conservative and an associate professor of English at Regent University. Follow him on Twitter.

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