Friday, March 4, 2011
Perhaps the real reason is that having a national story requires us to think about large issues of meaning, truth, ethics, and collective destiny, all uncomfortable ideas in our postmodern age. This is where religion can help. Not only do we need to understand religion to understand past events. Faith urges us to study them.
The Bible and the Koran, in particular, speak of God's action in history, and chart the lives of ancient prophets and patriarchs to confront us with timeless principles. History is filled with clues to the sacred. God is the creator of time, but is also active in time. By seeing meaning, good and evil, in the long human story, we find an indispensably richer meaning in ourselves.http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/thought/documents/t20110119.shtml
From the Duke conference that just took place. (Yet to watch)
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
is its wisdom and compassion, and against the weight of the world's iniquity the best resource is the imaginative labor of trying to tell the truth. Not an easy task, but the courage required of the writer, if he or she seriously attempts it - and the response called forth in the reader, if he or she recognizes the attempt as an honest one - increases the common stores of energy and hope.-Lapham, Lewis. Gag Rule: On the Suppression of Dissent and the Stifling of Democracy. Penguin Books. 2004. 129.
(some complacent and luxurious, others bitter and ascetic) the corrupting consolation of cynicism is the cynical politician's most precious asset and truest friend. Yes, say the gentlemen in power, exactly right, the world is a terrible place, overflowing with terrorists and swindlers and you, my dear fellow, you are so sensitive and smart that it would be a crime to squander your talent in the sewer of politics, to do anything else but sit here in the garden with the novels of Marcel Proust. [!!]-Lapham, Lewis. Gag Rule: On the Suppression of Dissent and the Stifling of Democracy. Penguin Books. 2004. 127.
as fashion statement no doubt can be understood as proof of the country's immense wealth and as a tribute to the success of its experiments with virtual reality, but it fosters a habit of mind unable to imagine a future that doesn't resemble a Hollywood remake or a Broadway revival. The circumstance explains the political ignorance of the New York literary salons. The subjects under discussion require too detailed a knowledge of history, law, finance, or nuclear physics, which in turn bear witness to the world's rigor and complexity - distasteful and faintly vulgar. Far better to strike moral or aesthetic poses and so concentrate on the recognition (or, more often, nonrecognition) of mutual states of refined feeling. Why make trouble? Why argue with the system that provides one with a microphone, a syndication deal, and a hairstylist? Learn to confine the expression of dissent to the wearing of an angry nose ring, and look for a better world in the lands of fantasy and irony.-Lapham, Lewis. Gag Rule: On the Suppression of Dissent and the Stifling of Democracy. Penguin Books. 2004. 125.
This guy is on point and witty mA!
of the impediments in the way of forceful political dissent is what Walter Karp understood to be the "corrupting consolation of cynicism." Karp employed the phrase to describe the attitude of mind adopted by a generation of American intellectuals responding to the Wilson administration's harsh suppression of unlicensed speech during and after World War I. Finding themselves suffocated by a climate of opinion in which dissent was disloyalty and disloyalty a crime, a good many independent-minded and once outspoken citizens acquired the habit of looking at the national political scene from the point of view of spectators at a tenement fire or a train wreck. As compensation for their loss of a public voice, they retired to a library or a lawn party and there contended themselves with private and literary expressions of anger and disgust. Language served as an end in itself, the imagination a vehicle for escaping reality rather than a means of grasping or apprehending it.
The attitude is one that I've encountered often enough in myself to recognize in other people - not only among the card-carrying members of the country's various intellectual guilds but also among the well-to-do gentry content to leave the business of government to the hired help. Our schools teach marketing instead of history, and the prosperity of the last thirty years has encouraged a disdain for politics on the part of people who imagine that liberty is an asset inherited at birth - together with the grandfather clock and the house on the lake - rather than the product of hard and constant labor. The universities don't take the trouble to correct the mistake. When traveling to Darmouth or Stanford or the University of Michigan, I expect to meet people who can afford to say what they think. I find instead a faculty preoccupied with the great questions of tenure and publication. Everybody is studying the art of writing grant proposals or the forms of courteous address appropriate to the magnificence of the department chairman. The freedom of expression proves to be contingent on the circumstance - permissible in some company, not in other....-Lapham, Lewis. Gag Rule: On the Suppression of Dissent and the Stifling of Democracy. Penguin Books. 2004. 120-121.
Monday, February 28, 2011
is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market will allow you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books."
Taleb, Nassim. The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. Random House. April 2007.-Quoted in El-Katatney, Ether. Forty Days and Forty Nights... in Yemen : A Journey to Tarim, the City of Light. Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd. 2010. pg. 40.