I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Issue 62, December 2014

Issue 62, December 2014

Saved by Rock ’n’ Roll

In the 1950s, when Susan Sontag was a young woman, high culture, middlebrow culture and pop culture existed in hermetically sealed spheres. In her writings on pop and as a pioneer of film studies in the English language cultural sphere, she was decisively to change all that.

The Scruple of Detail

Shifted whole from one language to another, philosophical terms leave behind a rich history of usage, interpretation, and interaction with other terms. To understand them properly we must recover some of that past, working against the grain of the monologic of the monoglot.

A Voice Seldom Heard

There are two ways of responding to perceived injustice: you can complain, or you can get out. If you are loyal to the organisation you will not get out; your choice then is between speaking out and remaining silent. Micheál Mac Gréil chose to stay in and speak out.

In the Rubber Kingdom

In 1908,1,675 vessels docked in the harbour of Manaus on the Amazon, the steamships stashed with a cornucopia of extravagances including Huntley and Palmer’s biscuits, tinned Danish butter, White Label whisky, Maples cedarwood tables and Victor gramophones.

Education for Democracy

Founded in 1933 in western North Carolina, Black Mountain College sought to promote the educational and democratic principles of John Dewey. It had enormous success in attracting major figures to teach but still had some difficulty in implementing racial integration.

Imagining the Irish

Good-humoured, charming, hospitable and gregarious, yet drawn to tragedy. Are the Irish subject to some kind of collective manic depression ‑ lurching wildly from exuberant craic to existential despair? Or is this just the kind of moonshine we like to feed our customers?

The Civic Public Square

How should religious groups interact with the public sphere and attempt to influence policy? Or should they stay out of the political marketplace altogether? The liberal Catholicism of Daniel O’Connell, which emphasised that a right or freedom is a right or freedom for everyone, may provide a model.

Less Thought, More Action

The German theatre company Schaubühne has toured its surtitled version of Hamlet in a translation which would more be accurately described as a transformation. The interpretation may be daring but the interweaving of meaning and “music” which makes Shakespeare’s language so memorable is lost.

The Last Chapter

Books and bookselling have been with us for a couple of thousand years, in which time they have progressed out of the libraries and into bookshops and homes, away from institutions and towards individuals. A great success story, but nearly all stories have an ending.

The World Turned Upside Down

Ideas certainly played an important role in the intellectual and political ferment that was the French Revolution, but it may be going too far to attempt to separate those ideas into distinct, contending political philosophies to which the main revolutionary figures can be attached.