The Sunday Post for May 26, 2019

Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.

The Man With Two Heads

Binjamin Wilkomirski’s memoir of his childhood during the Holocaust was celebrated, awarded, and then challenged. Last week’s Sunday Post included an article about the questionable veracity of David Foster Wallace and other journalistic greats. This week, an essay by Elena Lappin asks how we can bear to accuse someone who has survived immense suffering of lying about it — and how we can bear not to.

The question I wanted to ask Spielberg was an uncomfortable one: would this great archive serve the future as a reliable source of history? ‘Absolutely,’ said Spielberg. ‘Through this material, long after they are gone, survivors can speak to future generations.’ It provided, he said, ‘an unparalleled means of understanding the experience of the victim . . . They can teach us about the Holocaust in an educationally compelling and emotionally moving way.’

To break our trust in these memories would be a cruel thing; to question their veracity, equally cruel.

Breaking My Silence

Min Jin Lee grew up quiet, by nature and by culture. To be a quiet woman in America, though, is to be invisible. So she learned to wield the power of language in her own way.

In Western books, heroes spoke well and could handle any social situation, not just through action, but also through argument. In Korea, a girl was virtuous if she sacrificed for her family or nation, but in the West, a girl was worthy if she had pluck and if she could speak up even when afraid. As a kid, I’d watched Koreans criticizing a man for being all talk and no work. In America, a man was considered stupid or weak if he couldn’t stand up for himself.

Both things were true: I didn’t want to talk, and I didn’t want anyone to think I was stupid.

Against Advice

Agnes Callard considers Margaret Atwood’s response to a young writer from the analytical perspective of a professional philosopher. What are we really asking for, when we ask for advice? And what do we receive?

It would be really nice if information that could transform someone’s values was able to be handed over as cheaply as driving instructions.