Nick Russo:

To wrap up his rowhomes project, Hytha’s planning to sell a collage of all 100 images that comprise it, and he expects the collage to sell for as much as $40,000. In the meantime, Hytha has been meeting with local organizations that specialize in home repair and tangled titles in an effort to figure out how to put the money to the best possible use. Whether it ultimately helps Philadelphians with rowhome repairs, tangled title resolutions, or both, Hytha’s donation will help protect the historical legacy and architectural vibrancy of the city’s oft-neglected neighborhoods. In so doing, what started for Hytha as an art project celebrating the tragic beauty of urban decay in Philadelphia’s built environment will have become a force counteracting that very decay.

Hytha shows us, then, that it’s possible to use NFTs without severing economic action from morality, and further, that the new technology actually opens up new frontiers for local civic engagement. With sufficient skill, hard work, and good fortune, struggling artists now have a realistic chance at becoming powerful community pillars—all while doing what they love. Moreover, while NFTs are often criticized for being detached from the world and devoid of real value, Hytha shows us that it’s possible to ground them in one’s environment and use them to help people appreciate the physical world instead of escape from it into cyberspace. 

An argument worthy of serious reflection. 

Barbara Graziosi:

Strong readings of the Iliad tend to focus on the final encounter between Achilles and Priam, and Achilles’ return of the body of Hector, Priam’s son, whom he has killed. To [Jasper] Griffin, that scene affirms the value of a human life in the face of death. To [James] Porter, it makes the Iliad a poem of war, not death: Homer, “however we understand the name,” reveals the inexplicable, violent loss of life, not just the finality of death. I agree with Porter, as it happens. But while Porter and Griffin engage in critical single combat, we may want to listen to how the Iliad actually ends. The last word does not belong to Priam or Achilles, but to the women of Troy. At the funeral of Hector, their ritual laments insist on one theme: their dependence on the deceased. He meant different things to each, we learn, but they all relied on him. This is a theme that Achilles, in his great wrath, has difficulty grasping. It is also a theme that, from the position of combative criticism, can escape attention. From the perspective of the women of Troy, however, it is painfully obvious that people can only flourish when they look after each other and, in shared ritual, take care of the dead.

The Atomic Theory of Human Life

To me, the most interesting and significant element of the opposition to Amy Coney Barrett is the inability of some of her critics to achieve even the most basic comprehension of the character of an organization like People of Praise. Many Americans are so thoroughly catechized into the Atomic Theory of Human Life — the belief that all significant life-decisions are properly made by autonomous monads, with only the State to set boundaries and provide a safety net — that a genuinely functional community, in which some of the burdens of decision-making are distributed throughout a network of people bound to one another by mutual affection, can only be seen as a “cult.”