Tangential Narratives: Notes on Julia Cooke’s “The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba.”

As a child can only be tangential to its parental revolution, what happens when the citizen is a child of the state that follows, the state that insists on adopting parental authority, never relinquishing its hold? The child learns to walk and talk in the surveillance of its parental shadows. Some children learn to escape […]

Fantasy Democracy: Notes on Capital, Politics, and Voting

Louis Menand’s “The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University” (2010) questions why forms of higher education have been so intractable against change. One reason suggested is the surprising conservatism revealed of professors as a group, surprising because professors are often associated with more liberal stances and presumed to understand the connections […]

“Off with their heads!” Rhetorical Images of Heads of States

“Off with their heads!” shouts Carroll’s Queen in Wonderland. Just so, Platon has beheaded them all in “Portraits of Power,” in the December 7 New Yorker. The head of state is not a whole person, but a symbol, but of what? “The king is an erection of the body politic,” Norman O. Brown says in […]

Susan Sontag and a Valentine for Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor’s stories stir a natural absurd mix of violence and comedy. Characters argue and alienate themselves from one another. They have difficulty communicating, and they torment one another. Yet, throughout the stories, we find humor – comedy in situation, language, and setting. What better day to read a Flannery story than Valentine Day? In […]