Author Archives: joachim

Ceci n’est pas un président

  Sent to me by my friend Wolf Singer, just now.

Kublai Khan’s grunts and Donald Trump’s tweets

. It occurred to me last night. There exists a formal analogy between Trump’s tweets and the grunts Kublai Khan emits as he comments on the presentation of his counselors in the TV series “Marco Polo.” Both Kublai Khan and Donald Trump are pompous potentates used to get their wishes fulfilled by underlings groveling up … Continue reading

Infamous December 19, 2016

On this infamous Monday, crooked Donald will be elected Crooked President of the United States by a crooked procedure that has its roots in the compromise between states that depended on slavery for their economic livelihood and states that did not. As Paul Krugman notes in today’s column, the very survival of democratic institutions is … Continue reading

Hackers and Suckers

So let’s see: Obama did not want to politicize the White House by involving it in the election, so he did not ring the bell when Russia blatantly interfered with this same election, an act of much more significance (as it appears to me) than Watergate. I’m trying to understand the thinking process that went … Continue reading

Moral Qualifications of a President

In the Hamilton’s Federal Papers, the one (#68) dealing with the election of a President, much quoted now since the Electors are supposed to be the last guard preventing a foreign power to meddle with the election, a remarkable passage caught my eye: “The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of … Continue reading

A Lost Opportunity

to Helen Rosenthal, New York City Council member, regarding a community forum she organized on December 8, 2016 at the John Jay College, Upper West Side: . Dear Helen: I don’t want to come across as ungrateful — I very much appreciate your initiative in organizing this event — but I walked out of it … Continue reading

An Oversight with Consequences

The Founding Fathers did not imagine that one day a man devoid of any moral compass, an ungentleman in other words, or a brute, would pass all scrutiny of the national selection process and wind up the winner of the presidential race. As a consequence, most basic restrictions imposed by ethics – forbidding any conflict … Continue reading

What Now?

My mind is in knots. A man who never got past adolescence, a spoiled brat, who enriched himself throughout his life by fraudulent transactions, who has insulted minorities, physically abused women, a man who has no experience in public office, has been elected president. This is a cosmic joke. He doesn’t read, but follows his … Continue reading

Fritz Stern

Today I attended a memorial to Fritz Stern, the Historian, who died in May. Stern left Germany with his parents in 1938, just 2 weeks before the Kristallnacht. He studied PreMed, then switched to History, to start a distinguished career that led him to join the faculty of Columbia for many years. His focus, or … Continue reading


. . The actors: God, Assistant God, Messenger. [God and Assistant God are casually dressed but both wear a cardboard halo that flaps when they move their heads as it is supported by a single spoke. The Messenger wears a uniform that shows rudiments of golden wings in the area of the shoulder blades. God … Continue reading


. 1. In the hills of that country, animals the size of your thumbnail used to sit on the branches of elm trees and sing. … 2. Herb made a fast, determined movement with his left hand – he was left-handed from birth, or as long as he could remember – and the little green … Continue reading

Rock Art

. Five thousand years from now, the people that are left on this earth will admire the grace and delicacy with which horses were rendered in acryl on hexagonal tilings — the medium of the day — not far from the ruins that once were the Towers of Trump on the Island of Man-Hattan, an … Continue reading


. It often seems to me that the sheer uniqueness of our existence, its frailty, and the uncertainty of my own survival beyond the span of a few years would call for outbursts of celebration, outbursts of a different sort than the ones coming from me. Instead, I’m spending my time with myopic affairs. This … Continue reading

Gravitational Waves

. The whole space shivers — how can we maintain our composure, thinking of our whole body contracting and dilating every which way by a fraction of the diameter of a proton? Not that we or our friends would notice it, but it is the idea that counts: that our very dimensions are changed by … Continue reading

The View from Below

. I see Kurt Vonnegut’s luminescent beings, thoseHacksaw Ridge movie streaming propelled by incessant farting on another planet — the name is of no consequence — caught in the act of foreplay, giddy at that. The world watches, listens for needles to drop, the ocean boils in anticipation, the fish are open-mouthed and shudder at … Continue reading

30/30 Vision

. It was the experience of wandering around in his own mind, during all his wake moments, like a man who walks in the thicket of a forest, forgetful yet with bouts of certainty and firm knowledge that a treasure was there that would never go away. And just like that man walking by chance … Continue reading

Reading John Berger

. I have spent time lately reading John Berger’s Selected Essays (ed. Geoff Dyer). It is a treasure trove of gems. Here, an excerpt from an essay entitled “White Bird:” . “Art does not imitate nature, it imitates a creation, sometimes to propose an alternative world,    sometimes simpy to amplify, to confirm, to make social … Continue reading

Mountain Road

. It is not often that one sees asterixes in the landscape, but here they proliferate, as if many footnotes are needed to be accommodated in a text we cannot (yet) fully understand.


High above our thoughts and aspirations, there is beauty, incomprehensible beauty. download Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 2016 movie We need to sit still to take it all in. We are creatures that are capable of awe, that is, an unflinging openness to entirely new experiences. . . .

Pillow Fights

The annual pillow fight at West Point Academy has turned bloody this summer. Metal objects hidden inside the pillows caused concussions, broken bones, and a lot of blood. It is an exercise — we should grant this to the young creative cadets — that is much more realistic in preparation for real combat, which has … Continue reading

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