sábado, 18 de febrero de 2017

Were he living at this hour, then, what would Shakespeare tell us?

Essays of the Week

Tom Sawyer: Hero of Middle America?

by Peter S. Rieth

To ask boys and girls to read Tom Sawyer nowadays may be perceived as cruelty to children. To ask adults to take the book as seriously as Earnest Hemingway or H.L. Mencken did is to risk being called a racist or propagator of the patriarchy of the dreaded dead white men. As with most liberal learning, Tom Sawyer is slowly being relegated from anywhere-within-the-vicinity-of-children, to university studies. This speaks badly of both schools and universities. Sanitizing literature is a punishment one thousand times more painful to the souls of good writers than any banishment could be. Even censorship is preferable to sanitization...


On Profound Ignorance

by Eva Brann

I’ve long had a fleeting intuition that the Charmides is, of all the Platonic dialogues, the one that most immediately bears on our own contemporary political condition, the one that most directly illuminates the root problems of modernity. It seems to me that, whereas in the Republic we are invited to analyze the full soul as writ large in an imagined city, in the Charmides we are bidden to focus on the shrunk soul of an actual tyrant-to-be in a real city. The tyrant’s actions are infinitesimal in murderous effect compared to those of recent totalitarian leaders, but by that very smallness possibly more comprehensible in their badness than is the all but incomprehensible evil of the last and this century...


The Use and Abuse of Shakespeare in Our Recent Election

by Michael Platt

Persons who look up to others sometimes ask what they would advise. What would Jesus or Allah, Lincoln or Lenin, F.D.R. or Reagan, tell me to do? they wonder. But elections stir the passions and so others feel sure their hero thinks just as they already do, and they sometimes tell the rest of us what that is. During our Civil War, President Lincoln was often visited by those sure of God’s advice. And so in our recent election, Shakespeare has been drawn into our presidential fray. What Shakespeare would think of our recent election will never be discovered by those who cite words without taking the trouble to examine them. Were he living at this hour, then, what would Shakespeare tell us?...


The Leisure of Reading
by Glenn Arbery

Leisure is not something we have or possess. Leisure can at first seem to mean a premature, almost irresponsible, cheerfulness like the one Voltaire mocks so relentlessly in Candide. Do we have to convince ourselves that all is well to have leisure? I think one way to understand what leisure is, is to consider what the act of reading well entails. Contrast the kind of reading most of us do most of the time: We click through headlines on the Internet, skimming a few sentences here and there: bans, bombings, border disputes. We rapidly read this book or article in order to be up to date on that issue for some purpose or other, and at every moment. At no point do we simply allow ourselves to dwell with a text intelligently but self-forgetfully, outside the anxiety of time...


Misunderstanding John C. Calhoun’s Federalism

by Miles Smith

By 1828, Calhoun learned the dangers of majoritarian nationalism, and turned violently towards protecting the voices of the states with his famous Exposition of 1828. Termed Nullification by opponents and supporters alike, Calhoun’s theory was not as radical as later historians and contemporary critics have portrayed. While some Nullification enthusiasts later supported secession, Calhoun’s exposition never explicitly countenanced disunion. Instead, the document held itself up as a mirror to the American constitutional system. In the nineteenth century, Calhoun’s intellectual enemies identified his penchant for federalism, rather than his support for slavery, as his chief sin against the "American nation"...


Imagine No Religion

by Dwight Longenecker

Religion should help us examine our lives, our history, our beliefs, and our behaviors. Religion should empower self-criticism, broaden the mind, open the heart, and enlighten the soul. Religion should be an adventure into the unknown, a search meaning and a mechanism for the maturation of the human soul. Religion should be a trampoline not an easy chair. Religion should bring us to the threshold of the transcendent. It should help us to retain the wide-eyed wonder of childhood while we seek to attain the wise and tender wonder of old age. Religion should be a casting off—a launch into the deep. Bad religion, on the other hand, does exactly the opposite...


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