Jose Carillo's Forum


This section features discussions on education, learning and teaching, and language with particular focus on English. The primary subjects to be taken up here are notable advocacies and contrary viewpoints in these disciplines and their allied fields. Our primary aim is to clarify matters and issues of importance to language and learning, provide intelligent and useful instruction, promote rational and critical thinking, and enhance the individual’s overall capacity for discernment.

Dazzling reading for those who enjoy provocative clashes of ideas

For those with a taste for wicked, intellectually provocative clashes of ideas, Public Enemies: Dueling Writers Take On Each Other and the World by Bernard-Henri Lévy and Michel Houellebecq (Random House, 203 pages, translated from the French by Miriam Frendo and Frank Wynne) should prove to be pleasurable and satisfying reading. The book, a current national bestseller in France and now available in English translation, makes the reader privy to a dazzling, highly memorable exchange of letters between the two famous French authors about their widely divergent views on religion, morality, political commitment, and their own celebrity. Lévy—BHL for short—is a philosopher who wrote the classic Barbarism with a Human Face but dismissed by the media as a wealthy, self-promoting, arrogant do-gooder, and Houellebecq is a novelist fond of provocative black humor who won last year’s Prix Goncourt, France’s highest literary award, for his La Carte et le Territoire.

Public Enemies

Says Bard College professor Ian Buruma in “Two Guys From Paris,” his review of Public Enemies for the January 14, 2011 issue of The New York Times: “The running gag that permeates the entire discussion is the conceit that BHL, the most celebrated, most mediatique intellectual in France, and the prize-winning, best-selling novelist Houellebecq, are hated, persecuted and despised by almost everyone. On this topic, even Houellebecq is in danger of losing his famous cool, however, when he settles scores, rather obsessively, with a whole list of French critics and journalists, of whom few readers outside literary circles in Paris will have heard.”

Public Enemies had its beginnings as a secret correspondence between the two antagonists, both of whom are leading if often derided literary and political lights in France. BHL and Houellebecq agreed to come up with the book as a joint personal meditation and form of self-defense from what they consider as their unfair vilification by the media.

Read an excerpt from Lévy and Houellebecq’s Public Enemies in The New York Times now!

Read Ian Buruma’s “Two Guys From Paris” in The New York Times now!

In “The Rise of the New Global Elite,” an article that came out in the January/February 2011 issue of The Atlantic Magazine, business journalist Chrystia Freeland reports that the financial crisis and its long, dismal aftermath have polarized the United States economy into two fundamentally two separate types of economy. “A multibillion-dollar bailout and Wall Street’s swift, subsequent reinstatement of gargantuan bonuses have inspired a narrative of parasitic bankers and other elites rigging the game for their own benefit. And this, in turn, has led to wider—and not unreasonable—fears that we are living in not merely a plutonomy, but a plutocracy, in which the rich display outsize political influence, narrowly self-interested motives, and a casual indifference to anyone outside their own rarefied economic bubble.”

Read Chrystia Freeland’s “The Rise of the New Global Elite” in The Atlantic now!

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