spliced comma

a blog about books and their desire to be loved

Category: Recommendations

Listening to Good Writing: The Case of Zinsser and This American Life

We can love a book for so many reasons, but one of them, maybe the essential one, is good writing. But good writing does not necessarily have to be printed in a book, and it does not even need to be read. William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well, an acclaimed book that was mentioned in an earlier post, has come to learn this truth at the age of 90. The New York Times recently published an article about Zinsser, whose eyesight has now been significantly damaged from glaucoma. Although no longer able to read himself, Zinsser now meets writers in one-on-one sessions in order to listen to works in progress. Read the rest of this entry »


Reasons to Read The Works of Lewis Mumford

To me, Lewis Mumford is a lot like Stefan Zweig. When he was alive, Stefan Zweig was one of the most popular German language writers–his amazing autobiography, The World Of Yesterday, reads like a who’s who of early twentieth century European literature. Today, Zweig is relatively unknown. He is certainly not remembered and admired in the same way as Hermann Hesse, Gunter Grass or Thomas Mann (yes, a Nobel Prize is the common denominator of their lasting fame). Lewis Mumford, when he was alive, was prolific: he was a columnist for The New Yorker and he wrote over two dozen books, many of which are over four hundred pages in length. Mumford is today, in comparison to Herbert Marcuse and Marshal McLuhan, a lesser known theorist of technology and modern society. Read the rest of this entry »

Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man


I have read One-Dimensional Man four or five times. My copy is now falling apart. The binding has come undone, the thin layer of plastic on the cover is peeled, and many of its pages have coffee stains.

One-Dimensional Man is certainly Herbert Marcuse’s most popular publication. The cover of my copy boasts of more than 300,000 copies sold, which makes it a huge bestseller in the academic world.

Many would recommend One-Dimensional Man because it provides the best introduction to the critical theory of Marcuse and the rest of the Frankfurt School. I agree, but with a slight amendment. I would recommend this book because it is an introduction that warrants many re-readings. It is incredible how ideas and even sentences of One-Dimensional Man can be clear for the novice yet stimulating for the reader that has returned to it.

One-Dimensional Man is the type of book that makes you wonder why other social philosophers fail to do the same. Many so-called “Introductions to…” can be frustrating because the essence of a philosophy is eviscerated by a type of writing that assumes the book is only good for providing an introduction. At the other end, books for so-called intermediates and experts tend to needlessly alienate everyone else when the complex language of text is superfluous to the meaning of the argument.

Bonus: I recently came across a video with the following description:

Partly figurative, partly abstract, Drux Flux is an animation film of fast-flowing images showing modern people crushed by industry.

Inspired by One-Dimensional Man by the philosopher Herbert Marcuse, the filmmaker deconstructs industrial scenes and their terrifying geometry to show the inhumanity of progress.