Forthcoming Books:
Irony
4 June 2014

¶ Ms NOLA sent us the link to Laura Miller’s quick interview with Marie Luise Knott, the German author of a book, Unlearning With Hannah Arendt, that has just come out in English. In one chapter, Knott writes about Arendt’s use of irony as an expressive tool (not its opposite) in Eichmann in Jerusalem. We’ve lost no time ordering the book.

Some have argued that the subject of the Holocaust is too terrible to ever admit anything like humor. Obviously, Arendt was not laughing off atrocities, but she was attacked for some statements she made ironically — such as noting that Eichmann resembled a “Zionist” for suggesting that Bohemian and Moravian Jews be resettled in a specific area — and for the implied laughter in what she wrote about Eichmann. Why do you think that bothered people so much?

Of course Hannah Arendt knew that Eichmann was an anti-Semite, an SS officer and the organizer of the murder of millions of Jews. What unsettled and shocked her was to hear this anti-Semite dressing up his testimony with whatever came to mind, even going so far as to call himself a philo-Zionist.

But what worried Arendt most fundamentally was the “totality of the moral collapse the Nazis caused … not only among the persecutors but also among the victims.” She also worried about the consequences of this collapse, the model and possible future heralded by the Nazi policy of extermination. The fact that she saw the collapse among the persecutors but also among the victims was not due to any desire to offend.

Arendt insisted on defending the existence of a common, shared world. As a Jew she had experienced the triumph of the Nazis and the way their ideology had permeated, step by step, every aspect of life and language in Germany. The collapse she discerns is the collapse of the fabric holding human beings together in this world, the fabric of laws and traditions and ideas that had in the past kept the world from falling apart, the idea of solidarity and of humans negotiating the present and the future together. “The totality of the moral collapse” meant for her that the Nazi perpetrators could perversely twist the Christian precept “Thou shalt not kill” into the command “Thou shalt kill.” It meant moreover that parts of mankind (first the mentally ill, then the Jews, then …) had been declared superfluous and step-by-step conditioned to fit the Nazis’ image of them, to be and behave like victims. They found themselves in a situation of total lawlessness and total powerlessness and were thrown out of the human world, i.e., murdered.

 

Bright Ideas:
Retire to Coach
3 June 2014

¶ What a concept! Imagine a business organization in which employs “retire,” with lower salaries, into managerial positions? What if just doing your job well was the only task on your desk. The work might change, but it would never involve managing other workers until your later years. In other words, the whole concept of “promotion” would be stood on its head.

Sounds pie-in-the-sky, right? But that’s what Felix Salmon is advocating, more or less, in a post at Medium. (Click through.)

The alternative is far better: pay people according to the value their job provides to the company. If they can provide more value to another company, then let them leave: at a stroke you get rid of the syndrome whereby people can only get paid more by looking for a job elsewhere and threatening to leave unless they get a raise.

Recognize, too, that while managers do indeed add value to a company, there’s no particular reason to believe that they add more value to a company than the people who report to them.

In this new configuration, the manager is more like a coach, someone who helps the team achieve its objectives. (The “retirement” angle was really our idea.)

The result: an organization where fairly-compensated people work together as a team, rather than trying to work out the best way to make money for themselves at the expense of their colleagues. If you do away with the slippery pole, and do away with the idea that if you get promoted into a managerial role then you’ll get paid a lot more money, then your organization will be a much happier place to work.

Brokenland Note:
Roman Roads
2 June 2014

¶ We sat up this morning when we reached Joshua Shank’s Op-Ed piece about the fund that pays for the maintenance of Federal highways. According to Shank, the highway fund is about to run out of money, because revenues from the gas tax haven’t kept up with costs, and Congress has rejected rate hikes.

The obvious solution, raising the gas tax, is a political nonstarter. And even if it could pass, Congress would be tempted to direct some or all of that revenue to other purposes, like deficit reduction — it did just that in 1990 and 1993.

In any case, raising the gas tax wouldn’t help in the long run. When America planned the Interstate System in the 1950s, only half the country was urbanized and the number of cars was growing rapidly. Now more than 80 percent of Americans live in metropolitan regions, and total driving has stagnated. Even if we could raise the tax, it would only reinforce an outdated program.

Shank believes that funds ought to come from general revenues — the income tax. That’s not what captures our attention. It’s willingness to keep the fund solvent, in an ongoing way and not as a matter of quick fixes, that we’ll be watching for. We’ll be surprised to see it.

Gotham Diary:
Manhattanhenge
30 May 2014

¶ What we want to know is what Tante Hannah would have said about Manhattanhenge. Or rather: whether she’d have found a use for it among her favorite metaphors. (“Thinking in alignment,” say.)

The straight story at Gothamist; fun at The Awl.

By the way, it’s pretty cloudy out there right now.

Loose Links:
Asolando
29 May 2014

¶ Regular readers know what a staple dish spaghetti alla carbonara is in our household. We introduce the non-traditional note of parsley, and we use only the yolk, not the whole egg. But: no cream! And pancetta, not bacon. Is there a better way? We’re working up the courage to try the version updated by Riccardo De Pra, the chef at a restaurant in the northern Veneto. The inspiration, it turns out, is Japanese. At The Smart Set, Jason Wilson claims that this was a dish worth being stranded for — as he was by that Icelandic volcano a couple of years ago.

Carbonara is known as a classic dish of Rome, and so I wanted to know why a chef from the northern Veneto had perfected it. His answer was even more surprising. “The story actually starts in Japan,” he told me. As a young chef, De Pra had worked in Japan, which is extremely rare for an Italian chef, and he learned some decidedly non-Italian kitchen techniques. “I came back from Japan after a year, and brought my new ideas with me. And when I put them on the menu at my father’s restaurant, I immediately lost 80 percent of his customers,” he said, with a laugh.

¶ At The New Statesman, John Gray sketches an interesting history of the Little Red Book. Even more interesting is his review of a new book of academic essays about it. (via 3 Quarks Daily)

All of the relevant disciplines are represented – history, area studies, literature, political science and sociology – and although ten of the 13 contributors teach in the US, the collection is representative of the range of views of China that you will find in universities in much of the world. However, the fact that it reflects the present state of academic opinion is also the book’s most important limitation.

Reading the essays brought together here, you would hardly realise that Mao was responsible for one of the biggest human catastrophes in recorded history.

Robert Kaplan’s thoughts about Cardinal Richelieu are interesting, if only because Kaplan’s usual subject is more contemporary, but in one passing sentence he captures, without realizing it apparently, the contradictory impulses of the modern age.

What emerged from the horror of the Thirty Years’ War was a yearning for international law on one hand and a Europe of coherent states on the other — some form of territorial organization which would replace the hundreds of small political units, overlaid by various degrees of imperial power, that had made the Continent so prone to cataclysm.

How curiously the European Union has attempted to solve this problem by micromanaging from the top while leaving force in the hands of national politics.

 

Europe Note:
National Socialist
28 May 2014

¶ At the LRB blog, Jeremy Harding compares Marine Le Pen and Nigel Farage, leaders of the right wing parties, in France and Britain respectively, that garnered big chunks of the latest European Parliament vote. Observing that “Britain doesn’t look like France as you track further right,” Harding excoriates the laddishness of Farage’s UKIP, which is just what you’d expect. What’s odd is his respect for Le Pen’s reformed ideology.

She has turned her party around from the days of her father’s brief flirtation with market-liberal theology to formulate a kind of national socialist programme as coherent as Ukip’s is vague and contradictory. The only antipathies they have in common are for immigrants and European union as it stands. Neither looks like a serious programme for the future but hers has one conspicuous advantage over Ukip’s: consistency. A party that argues against the free movement of money, jobs, goods and services is well placed to make a case against freedom of movement for human beings, whether it hides its racism – as the FN tries to do – or proclaims it from the rooftops.

Teacher in America:
55 Thoughts
27 May 2014

¶ At The Millions, Nick Ripatrazone offers a list of 55 considerations for any teacher of high-school English. I read it as Lydia Davis without the irony. Sample:

25.
You will often have young women in class who love to write, and who outnumber the men, and yet these young women will stop writing. Teach them to keep writing. Show them their words matter. Introduce them to Mary Shelley, Marilynne Robinson, Jayne Anne Phillips, Toni Morrison, Tayari Jones, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, Alice Elliott Dark, Virginia Woolf, Stacey D’Erasmo, Roxane Gay, Jamie Quatro, Megan Mayhew Bergman, Mary Karr, Susan Sontag, Natalie Diaz, Emily Dickinson, Kate Chopin, Denise Levertov, Adrienne Rich, Anne Sexton, Willa Cather, Joan Didion, Donna Tartt, and, please, Flannery O’Connor.

26.
Do not try to sanitize Flannery. Let her live on the page.

All well and good. But we want to send Ripatrazone a book by Hannah Arendt, Between Past and Future mostly likely, to encourage him to teach his students that they are invaders, unknown newcomers to a complex world that they cannot begin to improve until they know something about it. This is the whole point of education; it’s why we require something so tedious of young people. But we’ve never been good at telling them why the ordeal is necessary. It is our conviction that a teacher who could convey the necessity of education to his or her students would dissolve the ordeal altogether.

Putrid Lies:
The Skills Gap
31 March 2014

¶ Whether we were roused from our habitual complacent but tacit assent to almost everything that Paul Krugman has to say in his column at the Times by a wave of springlike weather or by an exceptional acuity of insight, we decided to begin a collection of Putrid Lies for use as a self-test. If you fail to smell the rank decay, then you must retire to the Nuisance Corner and compose an eloquent defense of the proposition in question. In today’s case, it concerns the alleged “skills gap.”

Unfortunately, the skills myth — like the myth of a looming debt crisis — is having dire effects on real-world policy. Instead of focusing on the way disastrously wrongheaded fiscal policy and inadequate action by the Federal Reserve have crippled the economy and demanding action, important people piously wring their hands about the failings of American workers.

Moreover, by blaming workers for their own plight, the skills myth shifts attention away from the spectacle of soaring profits and bonuses even as employment and wages stagnate. Of course, that may be another reason corporate executives like the myth so much.

Don’t listen to anyone from the One Percent who claims that the skills gap is a problem.

Brokenland Note:
Ghosts and Zombies
17 February 2014

¶ For years (decades), we have bewildered our friends by calling for the termination of the Democratic Party — and the retirement of its senior operatives to pleasant pastures without Internet connections (all right, the connectivity thing is a recent stipulation). Our friends are naturally regard the Democratic Party as the last hope of progressive Americans, but, in our view, this is as good as forsaking hope altogether. There used to be a vibrant Democratic Party, but it sacrificed itself for a greater good — the promotion of Civil Rights. Thereafter, its deserted shrines were haunted by ghosts and zombies. One of the ghosts, Adolph Reed, has an essay in the current issue of Harper’sHe wants to revive the labor-versus-management blue collar party that flourished in the Postwar boom, and his criticism of “New Democrat” thinking has a Jacobin glint to it. One of the zombies, Al From, an architect of that thinking, has written a book in which he appears to claim that he was its only architect, a boast that Rick Pearlstein, reviewing the book in The Nation, is eager to discredit. Along the way, Pearlstein also discredits the New Democrats, but without the undertow of tumbrils.

Pearlstein on From:

From, however, is not chagrined. The “core principles of the New Democrat movement…are as viable and useful for meeting today’s challenges as they were for meeting the challenges of the 1990s.” For instance: “we need to adopt and enforce a blueprint that will cut the deficit and build confidence in the private marketplace.” Does he care that, as President Obama constantly boasts, the rate of budget growth is now lower than at any time since the 1950s? Or that the stock market is higher than it has been since the 1990s? No, he does not. Nor, surely, have the jet-setters and feather-bedders who feted his new book at a party hosted by the powerful DC law and lobbying firm Akin Gump—for which From serves as a “consultant”—at the shimmering new Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park. “As Bill Clinton would often remind me,” From writes, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity.” Yet the formula has worked well enough for From: he’s been wrong in the same way over and over again, and for him, things have turned out just fine.

We doubt that we’d support Reed’s party of the left; it strikes us as anachronistic. Surely there must be new ways to counter what Andrew Packer calls “organized money.” But we applaud Reed’s assessment of the fundamentally useless Democratic Party.

The crucial tasks for a committed left in the United States now are to admit that no politically effective force exists and to begin trying to create one. This is a long-term effort, and one that requires grounding in a vibrant labor movement. Labor may be weak or in decline, but that means aiding in its rebuilding is the most serious task for the American left. Pretending some other option exists is worse than useless. There are no magical interventions, shortcuts, or technical fixes. We need to reject the fantasy that some spark will ignite the People to move as a mass. We must create a constituency for a left program — and that cannot occur via MSNBC or blog posts or the New York Times. It requires painstaking organization and building relationships with people outside the Beltway and comfortable leftist groves. Finally, admitting our absolute impotence can be politically liberating; acknowledging that as a left we have no influence on who gets nominated or elected, or what they do in office, should reduce the frenzied self-delusion that rivets attention to the quadrennial, biennial, and now seemingly permanent horse races. It is long past time for us to begin again to approach leftist critique and strategy by determining what our social and governmental priorities should be and focusing our attention on building the kind of popular movement capable of realizing that vision. Obama and his top aides punctuated that fact by making brutally apparent during the 2008 campaign that no criticism from the left would have a place in this regime of Hope and Change. The message could not be clearer.

Brokenland Note:
Circenses
27 January 2014

¶ We were astonished to read a piece in the Times, even if it was printed on blue paper at the rear of the Magazine, posing the question “Is It Immoral to Watch the Super Bowl?” What makes this essay impressive is its having been written by an avowed football fan, Steve Almond. We don’t think that American professional football is immoral; we think that it’s criminal, or ought to be. But a long history of failed prohibitions stays our keyboarding hand.

We don’t believe that it’s necessary to get to the question of whether watching the game is moral or not; we think that it’s enough to contemplate the damages inflicted on the athletes, and then to question our interest in what ought to be nauseating. But we’re thrilled that the question has been raised in such a prominent venue. As with gay marriage, we didn’t expect things to happen quite this fast. But then, we’re old. And it never would have occurred to us to point to the linkage between the baroque spectacle of today’s Super Bowl with our dreary military record. Dummies, we.

Over the past 12 years, as Americans have sought a distraction from the moral incoherence of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the game has served as a loyal and satisfying proxy. It has become an acceptable way of experiencing our savage impulses, the cultural lodestar when it comes to consuming violence. What differentiates it from the glut of bloody films and video games we devour is our awareness that the violence in football, and the toll of that violence, is real.

The struggle playing out in living rooms across the country is that of a civilian leisure class that has created, for its own entertainment, a caste of warriors too big and strong and fast to play a child’s game without grievously injuring one another. The very rules that govern our perceptions of them might well be applied to soldiers: Those who exhibit impulsive savagery on the field are heroes. Those who do so off the field are reviled monsters.

The Meliorist Front:
The I Miller Building
9 January 2014

¶ Our civic Christmas present was the gift of the people who bought and renovated the I Miller Building in Times Square. Scouting NY reported on the before, and now it’s celebrating the after. Hear, hear!

Modern Horrors:
Fire Speech
8 January 2014

¶ We finally got round to reading this month’s Pacific Standard cover story, “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet,” by Amanda Hess. We don’t understand what it makes it any less impermissible to post sexual threats online than it is to cry “Fire!” in a crowded theatre. Knucklehead Michael Brusch of Texas displays an almost autistic unconcern for the impact of his “speech.”

In 2012, Gawker unmasked “Violentacrez,” an anonymous member of the online community Reddit who was infamous for posting creepy photographs of underage women and creating or moderating subcommunities on the site with names like “chokeabitch” and “rapebait.” Violentacrez turned out to be a Texas computer programmer named Michael Brusch, who displayed an exceedingly casual attitude toward his online hobbies. “I do my job, go home, watch TV, and go on the Internet. I just like riling people up in my spare time,” he told Adrian Chen, the Gawker reporter who outed him. “People take things way too seriously around here.”

We only wish that we could say that Brusch sounds peculiar.

 

Book Note:
Forgery and Theft, C & C
7 January 2014

¶ If you were gripped by Nicholas Schmidle’s New Yorker piece on Massimo De Caro, the Italian book forger who literally cooked the books, you’ll enjoy Travis McDade’s refresher about the Oath of a Freeman hoax back in 1985, to which McDade adds an interesting coda. (The Millions)

Much of the information in this piece came from the efforts of James Gilreath. As an Americana specialist at the Library of Congress, he was not only one of the first folks to examine the broadside in 1985, but he wrote about his experience, and encouraged others to do so, in a 1991 collection he edited called The Judgment of Experts. I sometimes assign parts of this work for a class I teach on rare book crime. But what is never made clear in this otherwise excellent book is whether Gilreath, who had worked at the Library of Congress since 1974, was already stealing rare books from that library’s collection when he went to New York to help authenticate Hofmann’s “Oath.”

Reliquary:
Where Should Richard III Lie?
6 January 2014

¶ What with the holiday rush, this piece, by Sam Knight, took a while to register with the good people at The Morning News, and even longer for us to discover after fiddling with Feedly (about which there is still much to be learned).

Where to put the bones of Richard III? That’s not the question; the question is, how to decide where to put them? The City and University of Leicester, which oversaw the exhumation in 2012 (and announced it officially early last year), were perhaps rash in deciding to treat their findings as “human remains,” to be dealt with like any other. But it’s just as hard to sympathise with the Plantaganet Alliance, a virtual club of the short-reigned king’s collateral descendants.

The Ricardian scene is also known for its openness towards ideas of reincarnation. One member of the Richard III Society told me that he would not be surprised if the entire movement turned out to be reincarnated henchmen of the King, and that he would sue me if his name was ever connected with this belief. Charles Brunner, the American prominent in the Plantagenet Alliance, prefers to use the phrase “ancestral memory” to describe his sense of identification with England’s bloody 15th century. “If the reincarnation thing does play into it, there were a lot of people who lost their lives during those events,” he said, “and a lot of what you could call unfinished business in the entire thing.”

Explicable or not, this depth of feeling has made Roe and the Plantagenet Alliance formidable, if unconventional, campaigners. They are not natural negotiators. When I asked Roe whether she would be satisfied if the group were granted the consultation it was seeking, and Richard’s remains were still interred in Leicester, she said: “No. No. Because that is not the right answer. That is not what he wanted. So, no. No.”

After a bit of sputtering, we decided that the idea that you can be the reincarnation of your own ancestors is probably not all that uncommon. Here’s what Alan Bennett has to say about Richard III in this year’s excerpts from last year’s diary:

4 February. I don’t imagine that my old Oxford supervisor, the medieval historian Bruce McFarlane, would be much exercised by the discovery of the body of Richard III, though there would be some mild satisfaction in finding the king exactly where the sources said he was. McFarlane wouldn’t have thought the body particularly informative as compared with the real stuff of history, some of the ex-duke of York’s receiver’s accounts, say, or records of Yorkist estate management.

The TV programme on Channel 4 was a lengthy and slightly spurious cliffhanger, culminating in the always conjectural reconstruction of what the famous corpse looked like. No different from the fanciful portrait, it turns out, but with enough humanity to satisfy the convictions of the Richard III Society, who were stumping up for the whole exercise. Bracketed in my mind with the ‘Bacon is Shakespeare’ lot, the Richard III fans seem not without a bob or two and with some of their barmier members on parade in the programme.

Just east of Leeds and not far from Towton and its bloody battlefield is Lead Church, a medieval cell of a chapel which possibly served as a refuge or a dressing station after the battle in 1461. I have known the chapel since I was a boy when I used to go out there on my bike. It stands in the middle of a field, the grass grazed by sheep right up to the south door and has latterly been in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. It was untouched as late as 2000 when it figured in an article I wrote for The World of Interiors. However, calling there a few years ago we found that the grass outside the south door had been replaced or supplemented by a patio not even in York stone but in some fake composition. Inside, draped in front of the altar was a gaudy banner advertising the Richard III Society. This I rolled up and had I had the means would have destroyed. I wrote to the CCT, who generally do a decent job, but was told the patio had been there for many years. It hadn’t and I suspect the culprits were the Richard III Society, who see the church as a Yorkist site on which they can lavish their presumably ample funds.

So had the last of the Yorkist kings been left under the car park I would not have grieved.

Neither, really, should we.

Mining Note:
Dream Clients
23 December 2013

¶ A funny story: when we picked up the Business Section of the Times early this afternoon, it was pristine, untouched. In spite of this, the lady of the house claimed to have read Nick Bilton’s piece about Bitcoin. Dubious, we recited the Tyler Winklevoss quote. “Yes, yes,” she said, “I read that somewhere.” We were just about to conclude that Mr Winklevoss speaks in stock phrases when his attorney remembered. “He read it to me,” she said. “He wanted to be sure that it was okay.”

“People talk about the volatility with surprise, but it’s exactly what you’d expect from a new global asset class whose regulatory landscape is still developing,” Tyler Winklevoss told me. He and his twin brother, Cameron — famous for their involvement in Facebook — have invested heavily in Bitcoin. By some estimates, they own 1 percent of the market.

“We have never sold a single Bitcoin — we started buying in the high single digits and we’re in it for the long haul,” Mr. Winklevoss said. “We don’t look at it in terms of day-to-day. We look at in terms of years.”

Flowers Gone:
Paul Torday
20 December 2013

¶ Paul Torday died, and you could have knocked us over. We  thought we were the only people in America who had read a novel by Paul Torday that wasn’t Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Don’t ask us which one it was. Although I think we did write about it. And we did.

They don’t say what killed him. What a thin, sweet man.

Brokenland Note:
Unfortunate Lack of Notice
10 December 2013

¶ The beginning of the end? (The end of Rome was full of such.) An ambulance outfit, operating for profit in six states, shut down without notice. (Thanks, Aaron!)

First Med was the largest EMS service in Ohio, where at least 1,500 paramedics and other medical workers were left jobless in Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, Cincinnati, Youngstown and numerous smaller towns.

First Med also provided services in Richmond, Norfolk and Newport News in Virginia, as well as Wilmington, N.C.

We must pray for arrests.

Rx:
Surowiecki on Health Care Costs
5 December 2013

¶ We are thrilled to see that James Surowiecki has alighted on what, in our view, is the most urgent health-care problem in the United States — crazily capricious costs. We didn’t know that California was a bit ahead of the game (no surprise).

For consumers, this means higher deductibles and co-pays, and having to think more about prices. A peculiar feature of the American health-care system is the enormous variation in prices that hospitals charge for a procedure, which often are not correlated with quality. So in 2011 California adopted a system of “reference-based pricing” for state workers and retirees. If you needed hip-replacement surgery, say, the state would cover you for the amount charged (minus a deductible) at forty-one “value” hospitals in the state. If you went for a costlier option, you had to make up the difference. Most people chose one of the value hospitals, and their outcomes were similar to those of people who chose the more expensive hospitals. The state saved money, and the threat of losing customers, in turn, led the more expensive hospitals to cut prices; one study found that the price of joint-replacement surgery fell by about a third.

Talking Turkey:
Brassy and Devout
4 December 2013

¶ At the NYRB, Christopher de Bellaigue writes about the problem of majoritarian democracy as it is corroding the civic life of Turkey, under the increasingly “hubristic” rule of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. (“Surreal, Menacing…Pompous“) More Turks seem to be pleased with Mr Erdoğan than not, but the unhappiness of the still-large minority is growing more insistent, and neither side is much inclined to civility. One thing appears to be certain: Mr Erdoğan is the creature of an economic boom, and will be replaced when that comes to an end.

Naturally, the people who benefited most from Erdoğan’s rule were his own supporters, not only because specific measures like the headscarf ban fell into partial disuse—universities now admit women in headscarves, as do many courts—but because the tenor of public life became more pious. Erdoğan and his ministers did not conceal their links to religious orders—such as the Nakshibendis—that the Kemalists had regarded as a major threat to the state. God, rather than Atatürk, was invoked at groundbreaking ceremonies; new mosques rose in the big cities. All the while, the prime minister’s friends in the private sector—often pious businessmen from the interior of the country who bankrolled his election victories—were rewarded with contracts for building, improving infrastructure, and producing energy. Turkey gained a new elite, both brassy and devout.

Dept of Get Over It:
“Fact”
3 December 2013

¶ At no point in her new biography of Norman Rockwell does Deborah Solomon say that the popular artist was gay, but we have yet to encounter a review that does not weigh this considerable topic. Post-considerable. Because the reviews are favorable — so favorable that critics have stopped looking down their noses (for the moment) at the creator of The Connoisseur — the homoerotic element in Rockwell’s work, which Solomon does claim to discern, the gay thing is “dangerously becoming fact,” according to granddaughter Abigail Rockwell. Julie Bosman’s story in the Times communicates this anxiety to readers of the Paper of Record.

But the mere insinuations have infuriated members of the Rockwell family intent on protecting his legacy. Two family members, who spoke in an interview on Monday, said that they regarded Ms. Solomon’s book as “shocking.”

<Sigh> Not only is it not shocking — erotic drives are in themselves never shocking, although impermissible ones, if gratified, may lead to shocking consequences — but Solomon’s speculations will probably work to refresh and broaden Rockwell’s appeal to younger generations, who don’t necessarily (as people my age were taught to do) see his art as corny or kitschy. He was guy doing a job that involved intelligent, creative work, and he wasn’t the happiest of men. Does this not sound like a capital-a Artist? Next!