Philip Roth's 80th birthday cake. / Sarah Ackerman
The Baffler,  August 31, 2015

Daily Bafflements

Philip Roth's 80th birthday cake. / Sarah Ackerman
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Stephen King opines that a novelist can be too prolific for critics, but—then again—that it’s suspicious if a novelist isn’t producing some excess work. Of the “recently retired” Philip Roth, King notes: “Our Gang was pretty awful.” We wonder if he read J.C. Hallman’s piece on Roth’s “Where’s Waldo? approach to forsaking the public stage,” from issue 27. “Readers,” it stated, “want enough books to be able glimpse an author from a number of angles, but they don’t want so many that they would have to sign over a significant chunk of their lives just to keep up.”

• “For the spiritually attuned,” such as Miley Cyrus, “almost any animal—insect, bird, butterfly—can serve as a doorman to the realm of enlightenment.” Miley, whose many pets include a pig, agrees with Barbara Ehrenreich’s Baffler no. 19 salvo. Not only is her (surprise!) new “Dead Petz” album a tribute to her dog Floyd; according to Miley, a healer “sent me into a state where my dog was lifted out of my lungs and placed on my shoulder.”

• “Leaving no trace,” “gifting,” and “decommodification” are three of the core principles of the self-proclaimed “network of dreamers and doers” that is Burning Man. So the natural question is, how can we best commodify it? One tip: “paperweights are a must… Wind will top 30 mph on the playa. Once your sales collateral blows away, it’s gone.” (Thanks, Adam Schnitzer!)

• Listen to an interview with Hollie Chastain, whose art graced issue 27.

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Further Reading

 November 28

I convinced myself of an extreme position, that the miles racket could be manipulated to turn the tables on the free market.