I recall an article on poetry in Commonweal almost 40 years ago that said poets mostly lost their nerve around the end of World War I. The author’s main point was that the universe had seemed to become so complex, difficult, and daunting that the poets moved to writing poetry that mainly gave voice to the beat of their own heart. However good or bad some of this poetry was, its scope of vision was extremely limited. The author praised scientists for at least having the courage to be (Tillich’s phrase), to try to make sense of the universe, to think with laudable creativity and daring, and to write about it.
Where that critic seemed to especially emphasize that the poets’ retreat had to do with cosmological doubt and inability or unwillingness to try to grasp the mystery of the wide universe, surely there is a parallel hesitancy regarding political matters, including patriotism, as Hal G.P. Colebatch spells out so well. I also recall critic Thomas Wolfe saying that American intellectuals had been impressed with the dour negativism of Existential and Socialist critique, even though it didn’t apply to the U.S.A. Indeed, it didn’t apply to Europe after 1950 or so. Theologian Paul Tillich wondered where dead Existentialism would find a home after its European funeral. Wolfe effectively said that it found an inappropriate home in American academia and with American literature. And leftist theologian Gregory Baum admitted that the Marxist critique doesn’t apply to the U.S.A., though that has not stopped the bloviating. By the way, Wolfe also commented on another version of covertly nihilistic thinking, deconstructionism. He said that the teachers he knew that were espousing it, didn’t believe in it and were running off at night to take courses in the new biologism.p>At least there’s a little pop patriotic poetry in some Country Music. br> — Richard L.A. Schaefer br> Dubuque Iowa /p>
Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling’s poetry was once so universal that even Mad Magazine could parody the poem “On the Road to Mandalay” and expect its lowbrow readership to get the joke. Now Kipling is an unperson in our schools and universities and even in our Barnes and Nobles. How we need him today!p>Would to God some brave soul would stand up on the floor of the Senate, look the Murthas of the Senate in the eye, and recite “For All We Have and Are.” br>
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?