Tag Archives: society

‘No path to heaven / except through this dirt’

My title is from the poem by Philip Metres, “Never Describe the Sky as Azure,” in Poetry, September 2021. A Reservation Over the Fist Resisting the repressive Texas governocracy is of the essence. Are fisting poses ginned up for camera … Continue reading

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‘Inclusive Writing’

The French controversy over “inclusive writing” has surfaced.* Cole Stangler, “France Is Becoming More Like America. It’s Terrible,” NYTimes, 6-2-21.Annabelle Timsit, “The Push to Make French Gender-Neutral,” http://www.theatlantic.com, 11-24-17. Here are examples that have been cited: les musicien·ne·s (the musicians)les … Continue reading

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Adoration of the Cat

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A hoary plot line of melodrama reduces the hero and heroine to dire straits; they’ve tried everything in their power to escape doom; the soundtrack crescendos in a minor key. “Pray,” he says. “It’s in God’s hands. Only a miracle … Continue reading

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E Pluribus Nihil

Archaeologists of the far future sifting through America’s plastic ashes will peg the collapse of its civilization to two insidious language events: (1) When America dissolved “talking about problems” into “having conversations around issues.” (2) When America demoted “national” security … Continue reading

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The Rock Pile

Dwight Garner’s review of a new biography of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings* evokes a foible-wracked genius: It’s a pleasure to meet this cursing, hard-drinking, brilliant, self-destructive, car-wrecking, fun-loving, chain-smoking, alligator-hunting, moonshine-making, food-obsessed woman again on the page. The passage that hits … Continue reading

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How Are Posh Men Educated?

…The vanities of posh men… centre on an ancient system that trains a narrow caste of people to run our affairs…. Ever questing to penetrate British lingo, I wobble over “public” versus “private” education in the kingdom’s parlance. In my … Continue reading

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The Wrath of Divines

Like cartooning, the act of translation has proven dangerous at times. For his role in putting Christian scriptures into English, John Wycliffe’s long-dead bones were dug up, burnt, and chucked into the river by order of churchmen. … The act … Continue reading

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Native ‘Son’

A chance juxtaposition of readings* has suggested to me the perennial nature of America’s brutish policing streak. In 1941, Richard Wright’s manuscript novel “The Man Who Lived Underground” is rejected by publishers who are made queasy over scenes of violence: … Continue reading

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‘Cry of Pain’

Housman’s “To an Athlete Dying Young” ruefully ironizes over a lad clever enough to “slip betimes away / From fields where glory does not stay.” Novelists, though, get more mileage out of superannuated jocks — Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom, Malamud’s Roy … Continue reading

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‘Inter faeces et urinam nascimur’

“Between feces and urine we are born,” said Augustine in the 4th century. The bishop of Hippo’s take on parturition was that our mothers effectively defecate us from their feculent crannies. Doctrine on sex and love handed down by dour … Continue reading

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