On August 9th another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, though Hiroshima was still burning. – Thomas Merton … More Thomas Merton on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
There will be no poem at today’s inauguration. The tradition began at Kennedy’s inauguration with a poem by Robert Frost. I know it’s not an unbroken tradition. Not every president since Kennedy has had an inaugural poet. But this one feels conspicuous. I’m not surprised that there isn’t an inaugural poet. Who would agree to … More What to Do When There’s No Inaugural Poem?
Today is the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht. I’ve been thinking about this lately with my work on Primo Levi’s writing and a few other projects I’m involved in. Levi introduces his Holocaust memoir, If This Is a Man, with the poem, “Shema.” Named after the first Hebrew word of the prayer, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is … More Primo Levi’s “Shema”
On August 9th another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, though Hiroshima was still burning. – Thomas Merton On this day in 1945, the city of Nagasaki was bombed. In 1961, the priest-poet, Thomas Merton, responded with the “anti-poem,” “Original Child Bomb,” named after the Japanese word for the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. You can read … More Original Child Bomb
Are you a poet or a philosopher? Do you look at the world as beautiful or knowable? Is mystery or intelligibility more important? This is the “ancient quarrel” between philosophy and poetry, truth and beauty, and it goes all the way back to Plato. In the tenth book of The Republic, Socrates considers the place of … More The Ancient Quarrel
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), a Victorian writer of fiery contradictions and angry satire, is known for hero worship. In his Lecture on Heroes, he describes ideal political leaders as The Commander over Men; he to whose will our wills are to be subordinated, and loyally surrender themselves, and find their welfare in doing so, may be … More Would Carlyle Support Trump?
A long time ago in a state of exception far, far away… Governor Tarkin enters with a sci-fi samurai at his heels. All the other leaders are debating the stability of their power. Is the new battle station enough? Is the Rebellion gaining support in the Senate? And then this happens: The Imperial Senate will … More A Primer on the Politics of Star Wars