First, this publication is a joint effort of Tara Isabella Burton and Dhananjay Jagannathan.
Tara is a novelist, theologian, and journalist. Her latest book Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World will soon be out in paperback (Public Affairs); her new novel The World Cannot Give (Simon & Schuster) arrives next March.
Dhananjay is a professor, scholar of Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, and essayist, who has written about music, literature, politics (here and here), and religion. His academic writing centers on the ethics and politics of Aristotle.
Over the past couple of years, our writing has often been a reflection of our conversations, and it is the fruits of these conversations that we offer here, whether under one name or the other or both. (We are married. If you’d like to refer to the authors collectively, we suggest ‘the Drs Burton’.)
Second, our title “Line of Beauty” is of course an homage to the Alan Hollinghurst novel and its central motif, the ogee, a sinuous double-curve. The title also reflects our joint interest in what one may call value-laden aesthetics: the study of beauty as an ethical phenomenon; the understanding of social life as pervaded by questions of our perceptions of one another; the interrogation of the idea of life as art; coming to grips with the ancient suggestion that beauty is itself our aim in living well and living as we ought. We had better admit from the start that there is a strong undercurrent of Platonism in all this: our conviction that art and beauty are important precisely because they are dangerous — and necessary, something we discussed at the Veritas Forum.
(Third, our aim.) Despite this subject matter, we are not aiming to write philosophy or theology here — or not exactly — but to write philosophically and theologically about our observations and experiences, culture (in the broad sense), and whatever else puzzles and provokes us intensely. In the coming days, expect to read essays by Dhananjay on the political philosophy of brunch and Tara on the musical and film Hedwig and the Angry Inch (and why the Rocky Horror Picture Show is bad, actually). We hope that gives you a sense of what we’re up to. Write us (Dhananjay: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tara: email@example.com) if you like.