Monthly Archives: May 2011

Tweedledum, Tweedledee, and Medi(s)care

I, however, find all the posturing over Medicare depressing. When the Democrats respond with their own scare tactics, they just become Tweedledee to the Republicans’ Tweedledum.

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Weep, For You May Touch Them Not

In his poem “Greater Love,” Owen describes two deaths. One is the physical death of soldiers, which is tragic enough. But the other death is also heartbreaking: the death of innocence that occurs when people become intimately acquainted with war.

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Each Enclosed Spirit Is a Singing Bird

I awoke this beautiful spring morning to hear the birds at full throttle, giving me an excuse to post a wonderful bird poem by Henry Vaughan, the 17th century metaphysical poet.

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Barcelona-Madrid Is Like Goneril-Regan

Think of the elder Lear sisters as Barcelona and Madrid and Edmund as a spot in the Champions League final. This would make Goneril Barcelona since she’s the one that emerges (temporarily) triumphant.

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Goodbye, Lenin. Goodbye, Wall.

Unlike the other “Films about Fences” I showed, Goodbye Lenin involves the trauma of a fence coming down. The fence in this case is the Berlin Wall and the trauma is the shock to East German sensibilities when they have to negotiate the chaotic complexities of life under capitalism.

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New Orleans, Kind to Strangers

For me as a tourist, New Orleans was a study in contrasts: the best live music I have ever heard performed in seedy bars, old world charm a block away from Bourbon Street decadence, the elegance of the Garden District mansions clashing with the boarded-up Katrina-ravaged houses of the Ninth Ward. There is a similar study of contrasts in the most famous literary work connected with the city.

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Believing 6 Impossibilities before Breakfast

Slate Magazine recently had a Jacob Weisberg column that invoked Alice through the Looking Glass in talking about the current Republican Party. Lewis Carroll’s Alice books seem indeed to be works for our times.

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A Biological Explanation for Literature

At one point, the protagonist of The Elegance of the Hedgehog tackles this blog’s central question: “Of what use is literature?” Renee is a materialist who doesn’t believe in a transcendent reality. For her, literature (and art in general) is a sophisticated biological survival mechanism.

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Remembering the Freedom Riders

King’s speech, not surprisingly, was the most memorable part of the weekend. At the time, he was upset at the violent race riots underway in Newark and Detroit. I remember him thundering, “Therefore I tell you, not ‘burn, baby, burn’ but ‘build, baby, build!’” and I carried those words with me into college.

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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