All posts by Benjamin

Ruth Richards – What is Creativity? (A Saybrook Salon)

“Saybrook Salons” were a series of interviews I did with leading faculty members at Saybrook University. My discussions with the founders of Saybrook’s program studying creativity were some of my favorites.

In this interview I spoke with Ruth Richards, author of “Creativity in Everyday Life” about what “creativity” actually is – and how artists don’t have a monopoly on it.

The Apocalypse Cabaret: (Nu-blesse Oblige)

This is part of an episode of my periodic podcast on politics and culture, The Apocalypse Cabaret, produced with Ariel Cruz.

In this episode, Benjamin and Ariel discuss the concept of noblesse oblige in the context of secular modern technocracy and whether or not it, and other civic virtues, can be re-activated in the culture. Also Ariel paraphrases deadeyed ghoul Grover Norquist in a way he would have hated, kickstarting a conversation about the role crisis plays in the generation of urgency and commitment, which are necessary conditions for re-building a sense of community in an age of market driven social atomization.

All Apocalypse Cabaret episodes can be found here.

A story about fear

A young woman who had moved to the city and learned the art of sculpting from the last legendary survivors of a once boisterous scene now shivered in her garret each night in fear.

For upon the death of the High King, a great wave of iconoclasm had swept the kingdom, and young men with hammers crashed through the doors of museums, destroying any art that looked human. They tossed acid on painted portraits, and threw busts out windows. For it was a sin, they said, and a presumption, for art to imitate men.

They did not all agree on the reasons. Some said it was because only God should have the power to present the human form, and so artists were lacking in awe; some said it was because to paint or sculpt the faces of men is to laugh at mankind, and so artists were cruel; some said it was simply bad art, and so artists wasted their materials; and some simply liked to smash the images of people with sledges and crowbars, and said that destroying art was not enough. Continue reading A story about fear

San Francisco’s Incredible Expanding Budget

Toy Golden Gate Bridge(This story originally appeared in San Francisco Magazine)

San Francisco’s budget has almost doubled over the last 10 years, from $5.3 billion to nearly $9 billion. We’re nearly paying for two 2005 San Franciscos—even though the city has grown by only about 10 percent, or 75,000 people, and even though inflation over the same period has been only 21 percent. By contrast, Philadelphia—another major city-county—had its budget increase from $6 billion in 2005 to just over $8.5 billion in 2015.

Paying almost twice as much money clearly hasn’t solved San Francisco’s problems: We still have decaying infrastructure, thousands of homeless, and not enough affordable housing. So what exactly are we spending our double budget on?

Continue reading San Francisco’s Incredible Expanding Budget