May 18, 1986 |
"Why not devote a column sometime to the paradox?" asks the Rev. Vance Geier. Well, for one thing, anything as simple as the paradox is very hard to write about, the easiest things being the most difficult. If those two statements seem contradictory, I'm getting to the point. G. K. Chesterton, the British essayist and master of the paradox, observed, "It's the little things in life that are colossal."
June 11, 1986 |
In writing the other day about the oxymoron and the paradox, I did not claim to be an expert on either. Readers have alleged that I was wrong on some points, which makes me right. According to the definition I used, a paradox is "a seeming contradiction; whatever sounds impossible yet is in fact possible." For example: "Less is more." An oxymoron, as I defined it, is a very brief paradox, one usually expressed in two words, such as "honest thief."
August 19, 2009
The new General Motors poses something of a conflict of interest for taxpayers. The restructuring brokered by the Obama administration left the public owning 61% of the company, so the more profitable it becomes, the better the return will be on the public's investment. At the same time, taxpayers in the market for a car don't want to maximize their local GM dealer's profits, at least not until they drive away from the showroom. The bottom line, though, is clear: Now that we co-own GM, we're in favor of anything that boosts sales of its cars and trucks.
October 11, 2009 |
Modern architecture is growing old. The groundbreaking designers at Germany's Bauhaus began building nearly a century ago. Many landmarks of midcentury Modernism, while somewhat younger, are also showing their age, their curtain walls taking on water, their cantilevers askew. And now the most recent examples of the style, late-modern buildings from the 1960s, are nearing the half-century mark. That advancing age, in the simplest terms, means the most significant modern landmarks increasingly need protection from demolition, and even from benign disregard.
April 24, 2013 |
Bob Hicok is one of my favorite poets. Partly, it's the movement of his lines, which are both conversational and utterly unexpected, almost as if he (or we) are joining a conversation that extends beyond the framework of the poem. “My heart is cold,” he writes in “Pilgrimage,” the opening effort in his new collection “Elegy Owed” (Copper Canyon: 112 pp., $22), “it should wear a mitten. My heart / is whatever temperature a heart is / in a man who doesn't believe in heaven.” And then there's that: his unrelenting vision , a sense of the world as both utterly real and utterly elusive, and heartbreaking because we have to die. Death is at the center of Hicok's writing - not in a maudlin, self-pitying way, but rather as a vivid presence, infusing everything, even the deepest moments of connection, with a steely sense of loss.
May 22, 2011 |
The crowd standing in front of the wall-sized artwork looked mesmerized. For a split second, the 32-foot-long piece resembled an abstract painting by Ellsworth Kelly or another artist who works with grids of color. But it didn't stay that way for long. Changing constantly, it plays more like a movie that's about movement itself, generating suspense by developing and disrupting patterns of color instead of building up to car crashes. At one moment, the whole "screen" floods with orange or blue; at another it disintegrates into a field of competing hues.