Critical Linking: April 24, 2012


It is ironic, then, that English Language Arts exams are designed for “cultural neutrality.” This is supposed to give students a level playing field on the exams, but what it does is bleed our English classes dry. We are trying to teach students to read increasingly complex texts, but they are complex only on the sentence level — not because the ideas they present are complex, not because they are symbolic, allusive or ambiguous. These are literary qualities, and they are more or less absent from testing materials.

This is called instrumental reason–the ability to wield a tool, but not understand it, critique it, or challenge it.


“By working together to raise ebook prices, publishers were acting defensively to let market-set numbers prevail.”

Of course, “working together” and “market-set” is a paradox.


“Ten thousand years ago, we had to kill our food, fight cave dwellers and sabre-tooth tigers. Life was scary. Now we have Wi-Fi everywhere. But we still have that physical need to feel threatened, it’s a reaffirmation of life.”

Life is still scary, but in much subtler ways.


Books are a window to abundance. The dissatisfaction caused by seeing what’s possible, measured against what is, is transformative.

I would go a step further—books show us that we can live what isn’t even possible. And that is a kick.


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