Reflections on Translations-VII: Capturing Class Distinctions

In yesterday’s post, in an attempt to analogize Tea Partiers with demagogues, I included an excerpt from Aristophanes‘ The Knights. Once I had posted a link to the post on Facebook, I made the following note in the comments space–directing it at a pair of friends of mine who work in Brooklyn College’s Classics department:Continue reading “Reflections on Translations-VII: Capturing Class Distinctions”

Aristophanes’ Sausage-Seller and the Tea Partier

I have just finished writing a draft review of Lee Fang‘s The Machine: A Field Guide to the Resurgent Right (New York: The New Press, 2013); it will appear shortly in The Washington Spectator. As I read Fang’s depressing history of the corporate-funded ‘New Right’ that has derailed the Obama presidency, looked over its roguesContinue reading “Aristophanes’ Sausage-Seller and the Tea Partier”

Social Media From Beyond the Grave

Charles Simic describes an ingenious and profitable aspiration for immortality: [The] poet Mark Strand…told me excitedly one day that he had invented a new kind of gravestone that….would include…a slot where a coin could be inserted, that would activate a tape machine built into it, and play the deceased’s favorite songs, jokes…whatever else they findContinue reading “Social Media From Beyond the Grave”

The Coven’s Vision of Hell and ‘Repetition Compulsion’

American Horror Story‘s third season, The Coven, ended last night. The show as a whole did not quite meet my expectations–a critique echoed here and here; but still, for various reasons, I quite enjoyed the season’s finale. Among them was it’s take on hell: each of us has our own private one. Misty, the “swamp-dwelling,Continue reading “The Coven’s Vision of Hell and ‘Repetition Compulsion’”

The Laziness of Reductionist Analyses

In his review of David Luke‘s translation of Thomas Mann’s Tonio Kröger and Other Stories W. H. Auden wrote, Polar opposites as in appearance they look, the two literary doctrines of Naturalism and Art-for-Art’s-Sake, as propounded by Zola and Mallarmé, are really both expressions of the same megalomania. The aesthete is, at least, frank aboutContinue reading “The Laziness of Reductionist Analyses”

Unmasking our Self-Deception about Self-Improvement

In reviewing the incongruous medley of Dan Brown‘s Inferno and two new translations of Dante‘s classic (by Clive James and Mary Jo Bang), Robert Pogue Harrison writes: Much of the fascination of the Inferno revolves around Dante’s probing of the covert psychic recesses of his characters’ inner will. The sinners’ great soliloquies are self-serving andContinue reading “Unmasking our Self-Deception about Self-Improvement”

Edward Mendelson on Anthony Hecht and the Palliations of Poetry

In writing on Anthony Hecht‘s poetry in  (‘Seeing is Not Believing‘, The New York Review of Books, 20 June 2013), Edward Mendelson remarks: In a familiar paradox of art, Hecht’s poems got their structure and strength from his irrational judgments and defensive vulnerability. But Hecht did something deeper and more complex than finding compensations in theContinue reading “Edward Mendelson on Anthony Hecht and the Palliations of Poetry”

The ‘Anxiety of Influence’ and Scientific Discovery

In his essay on scientific discovery, ‘Scotoma: Forgetting and Neglect in Science’, Oliver Sacks writes: Darwin was at pains to say that he had no forerunners, that the idea of evolution was not in the air. Newton, despite his famous comment about ‘standing on the shoulders of giant,’ also denied such forerunners. This ‘anxiety ofContinue reading “The ‘Anxiety of Influence’ and Scientific Discovery”

Kundera on the Novel’s Powers of ‘Incorporation’

In ‘Notes inspired by The Sleepwalkers‘ (by Hermann Broch), Milan Kundera writes: Broch…pursues ‘what the novel alone can discover.’ But he knows that the conventional form (grounded exclusively in a character’s adventure, and content with a mere narration of that adventure) limits the novel, reduces its cognitive capacities. He also knows that the novel has anContinue reading “Kundera on the Novel’s Powers of ‘Incorporation’”

Bronowski on the Actively Constructed Good (in the Beautiful)

At the conclusion of The Visionary Eye: Essays in the Arts, Literature and Science, Jacob Bronowski writes: You will have noticed that the aesthetics that I have been developing through these six lectures are in the end rather heavily based on ethics. And you might think that I belong to the school of philosophers whoContinue reading “Bronowski on the Actively Constructed Good (in the Beautiful)”