Monthly Archive: August 2016

4

Writing and Reading Verse, Part IV

Despite the timidity of readers afraid to expose their versifying to scrutiny, I shall write one or two more posts in the hope of seeing some small light dawn in the distance. Before leaving blank verse—which, as I said earlier, was easy to write poorly but hard to write well—let us look at one or two more specimens of how it can be done effectively.  Here is Milton’s description of Satan in Hell: He trusted to have equal’d the most High, If he oppos’d; and with ambitious aim Against the Throne and Monarchy of God Rais’d impious War in Heav’n...

4

Jerks 0: Introduction, Part B (Conclusion)

Jerkitude is a contagious disease:  After putting up with bullying and rudeness for a few days, we come to expect it, and we are ready to lash out in a preemptive strike against anyone who even slightly offends us.  It’s like the story of the guy whose car breaks down at night on a lonely road and finds he does not have a jack.  He starts walking down the road, imagining the warm reception he will get from a friendly farmer, but the farther he goes, the darker his thoughts become.  What if the farmer doesn’t have a jack?  What...

4

Properties of Blood, I.6: In Defense of Honor, Part C

Opponents of dueling have made many valid arguments against staking life and honor on swordsmanship or marksmanship, and not all of them went so far as Twain in deriding the very notion of personal honor.   Before evaluating the arguments on both sides, we should have some understanding of what this honor is that would cause a man to risk death.  In the 21st century, honor has little meaning in vernacular English.  It can hardly be used without quotation marks or an ironic intonation of the voice.  This was not always so.  Once upon a time, one could take for...

6

The Art of Degradation, Part I

It is a good thing that rhetoric is a lost art, because anyone with the most elementary knowledge of rhetoric would be sticking blunt objects into his ears to keep from hearing not just the politicians’ speeches but, even more, the pundit’s comments and questions. I am not referring to the bad grammar and mispronunciation of NPR newsreaders who cannot pronounce words like “tour” but invariably say “tore” or even to the effeminate and uncontrolled sing-song chanting of the TV announcers or the hilariously inaccurate diction of people who think “fraught” means something like “full of anxiety or trouble” and...

18

Wednesday’s Child: To Say Nothing of the Dog

Some six months ago, at the end of March, I wrote here about the sensational case of the Ukrainian Joan of Arc, Nadezhda Savchenko – then in captivity in Moscow and undergoing a farce of a trial – who has since been exchanged for some Russian prisoners of the undeclared war and is now in Kiev.  Now, it may be that Savchenko is not the Ukrainian Joan of Arc, and that in reality she’s a war criminal, a madwoman, a villainess, a CIA agent, or even a Russian police provocateur; none of that matters in the least for making sense...

7

Jerks O: Introduction, Part A

Everyone in America is constantly complaining about Jerks:  the Jerk who cut them off in traffic, the Jerks at the office who never wash their lunch dishes and leave them for their junior colleagues or overworked secretaries, the Jerk father who lets his toddlers run around screaming in the nice restaurant where you have taken your girlfriend to propose, the Jerk that pushed his airline seat back so violently that it sent your coffee flying–he’s the same Jerk who shouted for 15 minutes into his cellphone and then delayed the take-off because he would not turn it off when he...

15

Properties of Blood, I.6: In Defense of Honor, Part B

The Sense of Honor I could not love thee, dear, so much, Loved I not honor more. Richard Lovelace’s poem “To Lucasta” used to be one of those poems that everyone had to commit to memory, and these last two lines constituted the most oft-quoted reference to the principle of honor in English literature.  Lovelace was a young man of good family, whose loyalty to his king and church first sent him to war, later put him in prison, and ultimately plunged him into poverty.  He had left Oxford with an M.A. and was about to serve under Lord Goring...

6

Diary of a Jerk-Hunter, I: Gold Medal Jerks

My title is a little misleading.  It’s not as if anyone has to go in search of Jerks.  They are like mosquitoes in a tidal marsh:  They are inescapable. But, like mosquitoes, some species of Jerk are merely annoying, while others carry diseases far more dangerous to society than malaria or zika. Some years ago, I embarked on a project to which I gave the obvious title, Jerks.  My agent thought it was a brilliant idea and loved the initial pieces.  I dutifully spent a good deal of time writing up the outline, prospectus, etc., but nothing I prepared succeeded...

7

Urbs Aeterna in Carolina

Summary:  The Bad News is that a bad break has made it impossible to conduct a Greek program in October, but the Good News is that we are doing a little program in Charleston in the Winter.   The Bad News July 10th was a long day, sweltering in my Summer office, otherwise known as the porch.  Too much to do for the Summer Seminar, with far too little time left.  Most of my five lectures were more or less done, though I was embarrassed to realize, several days later, that I had neglected to finish one of them.  No...

0

Trump’s Strategy for Victory

  We’ve all come to know Donald Trump, or some version of him: real estate baron, reality TV star, target of biased leftist media, husband of three wives and father of four children, victor over 16 Republican rivals in the “bum of the week” primaries and supposedly guaranteed loser to the first female Supreme Leader come this Nov. 8. The odds are against him: The media assault is as relentless from neo“conservative” pundits eager to slaughter thousands more U.S. troops and millions more foreigners, in uniform and out. The country’s changing demographics increased those likely to vote against him while...