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The American Scholar

The American Scholar

Spring 2020

Inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous speech, The American Scholar is the quarterly magazine of public affairs, literature, science, history, and culture published by the Phi Beta Kappa Society since 1932.

País:
United States
Idioma:
English
Editor:
Phi Beta Kappa Society
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4 Números

En este número

2 min.
autonomies

WOULD SOMEBODY PLEASE explain to me how the dutiful 0s and 1s of computer processes at some point unbind themselves and undertake independent thought? Could anyone describe the actual instant of transition? I’ve been asking these questions around the office for the last little while. Might we find a writer to explain, in terms that even I could understand, this moment when the warm breath of life turns a box of metal into Frankenstein’s monster? One smart sciency friend of mine told me (rather dismissively, I thought) that it was all about algorithms. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t take me very far. Then several months ago there arrived unbidden an article that reinforced my doubts about computer autonomy in terms that I could not have expressed but could follow. The piece…

1 min.
the american scholar

ROBERT WILSON Editor SUDIP BOSE Managing Editor BRUCE FALCONER Senior Editor STEPHANIE BASTEK Associate Editor KATIE DANIELS Assistant Editor DAVID HERBICK Design Director SANDRA COSTICH Editor-at-Large ANN BEATTIE Fiction Editor LANGDON HAMMER Poetry Editor SALLY ATWATER Copy Editor TAYLOR CURRY Editorial Assistant LYNN PASQUERELLA Consulting Editor Contributing Editors Ann Beattie, Emily Bernard, William Deresiewicz, Allen Freeman, Adam Goodheart, Edward Hoagland, Ann Hulbert, David Lehman, Jessica Love, Thomas Mallon, Anne Matthews, Richard E. Nicholls, Patricia O’Toole, Phyllis Rose, Neil Shea, Wendy Smith, Jean Stipicevic, Jay Tolson, Charles Trueheart, Ted Widmer, Thomas Chatterton Williams FREDERICK M. LAWRENCE Publisher RAYMOND SACHS Publishing Director STEVEN ANDERSON Associate Publisher Editorial Board Allison Blakely, Lincoln Caplan, Fred H. Cate, Joseph W. Gordon, Anthony Grafton, Donald S. Lamm, Cullen Murphy, Brenda Wineapple…

4 min.
letters

A Matter of Life and Death Lincoln Caplan’s “This Man Should Not Be Executed” (Winter 2020) is one of the best long-form articles that I have read in many years. It’s left me stunned and heartbroken. I ardently hope that Billy Joe Wardlow’s lawyers can use this piece to save him from execution. I find myself deeply curious about what forces in prison/solitary confinement/death row have facilitated Wardlow’s maturation. How remarkable that he has matured into a kind of therapist for other inmates on death row. How tragic—and what a miscarriage of justice and humanity—if he is put to death in April. LAWRENCE LEVENSON New Haven, Connecticut I am nearly 81 years old and an immigrant from postwar England. After 25 years, I became a citizen of the United States without giving up…

1 min.
thank you, friends!

In memory of John Churchill Fred H. Cate Werner Gundersheimer Donald S. Lamm Scott Newstok Marcia Stanton Robert Wilson In memory of Douglas W. Foard Ann Foard Philip Alcabes Julius Altman Steven Anderson Ann Beattie & Lincoln Perry Allison Blakely George Bradley Luanne Buchanan Paula M. Cohen Nancy Crooker Roger Dahood T. Gerald Delaney Brad Edmondson Mark Edmundson Phoebe C. Ellsworth Lucy Ferriss Andrea Finkle Ernest B. Furgurson Thomas Gibson Sandra Gilbert Stephen H. Goodwin Langdon Hammer Ewa Hryniewicz-Yarbrough Ann Hulbert Kathy Mank Ann Marsh-Meigs Louis P. Masur Roger Mudd Michael O’Donovan Ana Puente Diana Ranson Mike Rose Herbert Royden Ray Sachs Judith Shapiro Shirley Streshinsky Peter Suedfeld Sara M. Taber Patrick Troccolo Charles Trueheart James VanOosting Brenda Wineapple Don J. Wyatt Robert Yamartino Edwin M. Yoder Janet Zimmerman Martha Zuniga…

14 min.
land of perpetual night

As we traveled northward, the twilight diminished, the sky grew darker, until finally our ship crossed into polar night. IN LATE NOVEMBER LAST YEAR, I traveled to the Norwegian port city of Tromsø and boarded a northbound icebreaker called the KV Svalbard. The ship belonged to the kystvakt,the coast guard, and it was stout and gray with a steep bow for plowing into sea ice and a thick round bottom for crushing it. In the long blue twilight, sailors pulled supplies aboard and welcomed passengers, while below in the mess, cooks prepared salmon fillets and sang along to MC Hammer and Metallica. Many of the young crew members were conscripts, fulfilling their national service, and here and there they stood outside in the cold, smoking and soaking up cell phone signals…

1 min.
a beautiful vision

When she was four years old, photographer REBECCA GAAL got her first pair of glasses. The experience changed the way she thought about sight and the world around her. Through her work with the Seva Foundation, Gaal documented doctors and patients at an eye hospital in India for her ongoing photo series “Finding Light in the Darkness.” She wants to focus on the women seeking treatment, since two-thirds of the world’s people living with visual impairment are women and girls. “I’ve been fascinated with the idea of sight, vision, and interpretation since I was a child, and photography is how I explore these issues. My experience at the Center of Community Ophthalmology at Sadguru Netra Chikitsalaya, a hospital in Chitrakoot, India, was overwhelming. It was mind-boggling to see the sheer numbers…