For my undergraduate degree I had the privilege of studying in a "Great Books" program at Concordia University's Liberal Arts College in Montreal. This bachelor of arts degree in "Western Society and Culture" is one of a hundred Great Books curricula in North America, Europe and Asia. The Concordia program was modelled on the Great Books movement which began at Columbia University in New York in 1921 and which now constitutes that university's Core Curriculum.
The Greek myth of Orpheus hints at the paradoxical relationship between creativity and anguish. Orpheus was the one mortal whose musical ability was as great as that of the gods. The renowned lyre player fell in love with the maiden Eurydice and the two were married. Shortly after the wedding, Eurydice was stung by a serpent and died; Orpheus, unwilling to accept her death, decided to descend into the underworld to rescue her. The gods were touched by the musician's plea and released her from Hades on the condition that he did not look at her face until the two had returned to the world of the living.
The most interesting mayor in North America is not Toronto's superego-averse Rob Ford, the conservative populist who has received much publicity from comedians across the world, but is instead the recently elected progressive populist Bill de Blasio -- the new mayor of New York City. De Blasio's campaign "One New York, Rising Together," was a refreshingly progressive one that did not emphasize crime, as did the slogans of New York's previous Republican mayors. De Blasio campaigned to support workers, teachers' unions, undocumented immigrants, welfare rights and the need for affordable housing, while criticizing the New York Police Department's unconstitutional use of stop-and-frisk tactics.
Q. What skills are required in order to be employed and receive relatively high wages in the 21st century?
A. You mean, other than blindly furious industriousness, continuous calculation of one's self-interest, being raised by wealthy parents, and having good luck amidst the crises produced by neoliberal mismanagement of the economy?
Sexual liberation was a core principle of the social movements of the 1960s. The desire to emancipate desire was central to the belief that a new society and a new experience could be created. The United States' LGBTQ (lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans/queer) movements are often described as having begun with the Stonewall Revolt in Greenwich Village in New York City. The rebellion consisted of hundreds of gays resisting a police raid over the course of three days. In The Power of Identity, the sociologist Manuel Castells notes that there were 50 organizations for sexual minorities throughout the U.S.
"I don't have to be who you want me to be."
- Muhammad Ali
There are a number of fascinating interviews between the 20th century's greatest boxer Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell, one of the most intelligent sports commentators of the era. In one conversation, Cosell asks Ali, "Who would you like to fight?" Ali replies, "I would like to fight whoever you think is the best, the number one man…" Cosell, responds with resignation and awe, telling the young man, "I am not sure that there is anyone left really for you to fight."