Category: Reviews

A Vision of a Living World

by Ben Milton


As physical beings, we are closely attuned to spacial relationships. This goes down to very deep levels, levels that we are sometimes not consciously aware of. Most of us have had the experience of being disturbed by structural arrangements, but we may not have been able to say why. Most commonly, this occurs in building or cities, elements of the built environment erected by humans for humans. It rarely, if ever, occurs in areas shaped by purely natural forces.

This experience can be puzzling. Oftentimes we cannot pin down what feels “right” about one place and “wrong” about another, but the feelings are definitely present, and are usually agreed upon by the majority of the people there. Often the feelings can be quite strong. Chartres Cathedral or the Alhambra, for example, provide deeply moving experiences in their own right, and smaller works of architecture provide this as well; we all know of a house we’ve visited, a road we’ve walked, or even a garden someone planted that evoked a deep sense of rightness.

Read the rest of this entry »


Battle Cry

by Julia Kraus

I began reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother with more trepidation than real interest. Published in early 2011 by Amy Chua, the eponymous mother of the title, the book is a terrifyingly non-fictional account of Chua’s experiences raising her American daughters in the traditional Chinese manner. The book garnered reams of shocked press, some boldly complementary, others tearfully indignant that such a woman be allowed to continue in existence.

To clarify, the “traditional Chinese manner” of which Chua speaks is summed up nicely within the first two pages:

Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do: attend a sleepover, have a playdate, be in a school play, complain about not being in a school play, watch TV or play computer games, choose their own extracurricular activities, get any grade less than an A, not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama, play any instrument other than piano or violin, and not play the piano or violin.

Read the rest of this entry »