Entries by Colin McGinn

NYRB and Robert Silvers

I just want to say that my friend and editor Bob Silvers was a unique individual: iron integrity, playful irreverent humor, scrupulous, fearless, fair. I will miss my phone calls with him, which were always charming and delightful, as well as professional and painstaking. We must do our best to keep up the standards he […]

CEU and George Soros

George Soros is an old friend of mine and I have visited CEU at his invitation. I can state categorically that statements made about him to the effect that he runs a covert international “empire” are completely false. He does, however, oppose totalitarian governments.

Gleam in the Gloom

As centers of free thought and expression, American universities are clearly doomed. Forces from the left and right are conspiring to destroy academic values (i.e. civilization). Universities are already nothing like they were twenty years ago, or even ten years ago. But don’t worry: university administrators will flourish as the ship slowly sinks! What do […]

“Politically Incorrect”

I notice that the phrase, in its current meaning, appears on page 168 of Bend Sinister, published in 1947: “it is better for a man to have belonged to a politically incorrect organization than not to have belonged to any organization at all”. I wonder if this is its first occurrence.

Disgust and Death

My cat likes to catch lizards and bring them into the living room to frolic with. I try to remove them before he kills them. Today I found a writhing detached tail, the rest of the lizard being elsewhere. I felt a rush of disgust at the sight of the still-animated tail. This struck me […]

Bend Sinister

I’ve been reading Nabokov’s early novel Bend Sinister, about political tyranny. I would call it a “crowd-displeaser”: brilliantly written, of course, but deeply depressing about politics and people. It seems to capture our current moment of mediocre pallid (or orange) men with obscene amounts of power and bad personalities. The figure of the ruler Paduk (nickname […]

Reptilian Reprieve

Yesterday when I was playing tennis with my friend Eddie a large reptile wandered onto the court–a lizard about three feet long, splendid green belly, striped tail, spikes on its back, quite a specimen. After a while it made as if to leave, but it was too heavy to climb back up the wind covers […]