Summer is just around the corner in Montreal; springtime is here, and with it the annual literary gathering known as the Blue Metropolis Festival, which recently welcomed to its stage renowned author, essayist and liberal activist Gore Vidal to set the tone for the literary happenings to come.
As the octogenarian was wheeled on to the dais, he paused, as if to announce himself to the crowd, and was overcome by the appreciative applause from the 600-plus crowd.
Before the night was over he was labelled as "cantankerous" by one young student, held up as the greatest U.S. president they never had by another, and would thoroughly entertain, if not enlighten, the congregated mass, though a dozen or so walked out before his talk had concluded.
A couple of years ago I read a fabulous book by James Scott called Seeing like a State. Rather than portraying an in-depth look at the unique complexities of one failed (or floundering) state, he took a refreshingly more contextualized approach.
By widening his gaze and looking at the commonalities across the globe and over time, Scott makes some similarities among them embarrassingly apparent. In doing so, he suggests that the failures which have been historically noted as disastrous examples of poor decision making are anything but exceptional.
On one level Norman Finkelstein's new book, This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and Consequences in the Gaza Invasion, on Israel's 2008 invasion of Gaza does not reveal much new. It consists of information that has made its way to the public realm over the past year. Yet he brings together the disparate pieces of the event to sharp effect. There is a clear sense that the story has been insulted by the casualness of attention to it.
Goodman's 90-minute lecture touched on topics including the U.S. health care debate, the recent death of her mother, her arrest at the Republican National Convention, the importance of independent media, the upcoming summit in Copenhagen and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.