Monthly Archives: January 2017

The GOP’s Faustian Bargain with Trump

New York Times columnist David Brooks says that the GOP is striking a Faustian bargain by collaborating with Donald Trump. Christopher Marlowe shows the price that is paid for dealing with the devil and also tells us how one can get one’s soul back.

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One Equal Temper of Heroic Hearts

Federer and Nadal resumed their legendary rivalry in the Australian Open finals and played a match for the ages. They are both old in tennis terms and by all rights should have been surpassed by the next generation. Therefore Tennyson’s “Ulysses” seems the proper poem to acknowledge them.

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Trump’s Crusoe Wall Goes Up in Airports

This past weekend so a flurry of illegal and unconstitutional executive orders that created chaos in airports and elsewhere as travelers from certain countries found themselves in detention. Defoe captures versions of such dramas in “Robinson Crusoe.”

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The World’s One Hope: Compassion

Bertolt Brecht’s “”The World One Hope” addresses the problem of growing callousness but then points to how we can break through to compassion.

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Interpreting Lit by Computer

A new study purports to “reveal what exactly it is about popular stories that makes us love them most.” Your own explanations about why you love the characters you do are for more revealing. I include David Lodge’s mockery of such computer studies in his novel “Small World.”

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Trump to Torture’s Opponents: Drop Dead

Donald Trump wants to bring back torture, specifically waterboarding. Like the colonel in Carolyn Forché’s poem by that name, he is a showman who seeks to intimidate.

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1984 Explains Why Trump Keeps Lying

“1984” gives us new insight into Donald Trump’s incessant lying. We are not supposed to apply logic to contentions that Trump’s inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama’s. We are supposed to submit to power. The more outrageous the lie, the more Trump demonstrates his power when people go along.

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Holding to Higher Principles

Poets and other artists help keep alive the flame of higher principles. That’s why authoritarians like Donald Trump last out against them.

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