Monthly Archives: June 2007

34 posts

Believers and Infidels


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For the first time there was a feeling that technologically, economically and politically, as well as culturally, the British had nothing to learn from India and much to teach; it did not take long for imperial arrogance to set in. This arrogance, when combined with the rise of Evangelical Christianity, slowly came to affect all aspects of relations between the British and the Indians.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the British Blues Revival


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Interest in Rosetta in Britain was part and parcel of a larger trend: the postwar blues revival, which saw the emergence of a white public who “sought a heightened reality in the realm of black American song.”

Brontë in Brussels


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I recently stumbled upon a scene which would have appealed to Brontë’s eye for cross-cultural interactions: under the gaze of a watchful Sphinx, a group of Indians were struggling to teach some Belgian children the game of cricket.

The Power of Art by Simon Schama


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For all of his own moral blemishes, Caravaggio knew exactly how to please the princes of the Catholic Church. He completely rejected the pretentious intellectualism and coy erotic themes that had preoccupied the Mannerist painters.

Lincoln Emancipated: The President And the Politics of Race edited by Brian R. Dirck; foreword by Allen C. Guelzo


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What is heartening is that, as Professor Michael Vorenberg stresses in his essay, Lincoln’s thinking about race did evolve, especially during the war.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy


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I read this book in one take late at night and immediately headed downstairs to kick up the fire and drink some bourbon. I was cold, chilled emotionally, stunned, awe-struck by McCarthy’s words. I mentioned The Road to a singer/songwriter friend and all he could say was “That one put me off my feed for a few days.”

The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford


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The characters are well-drawn, clear, as are locations, thought processes and motivations but all the time I’m thinking that the lead character, Frank Bascombe, is one pretentious, self-absorbed guy. Want to have an unsuccessful party? Invite this guy. Have trouble sleeping? Call up Frank.

Fool’s Paradise: The Unreal World of Pop Psychology by Stewart Justman


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Imagine, for a second, that instead of claiming the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the Declaration of Independence promised happiness itself, whatever that might be, as a guaranteed right. In a sense, that subtle shift in language would be a promise of utopia—you will be happy—where the burdens and difficulties of life simply melt away.

Flannery O’Connor and the Christ-Haunted South by Ralph Wood


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Flannery O’Connor was Catholic and Southern, and that combined with her genius produced a writer whose works have become something of a cottage industry.

The Fire Baby by Jim Kelly


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However, many contemporary English writers retain the essential nature of their culture. While they have, in many instances, been seduced by nihilism, there still remains the flickering light of the old faith.

The Enlightenment and the Intellectual Foundations of Modern Cultureby Louis Dupre


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The seventeenth and eighteenth century philosophical movement that came to be known as the Enlightenment was once the crown jewel of the western intellectual heritage. It promised lives based on order and reason. It seemed to offer the promise of human perfectibility. Such claims, however, have for some time not gone unchallenged.