Category: Feature

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Rome, AMT 16, Part 3

I’ll try to write more on Naples and weave it into my Rome diary, but to avoid getting too far behind, let us return to Rome, which we did in a geographical sense last Thursday, 20 January 2016. The train ride was uneventful, and we wisely avoided all the taxi-hustlers who greet you as you come out of Termini station and took a regular white Rome taxi.  It was still 20 euros to our apartment in Trastevere, though we have paid more on occasion. The driver was a wit.  He started in on politics.  “Are you following the elections,” he...

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Properties of Blood, I:.3: The Disappearing Individual, Part D

Before going on with the argument, let us take our bearing and sum up.  The question on the table in this chapter is whether or not human beings, as moral actors, are primarily individuals–in this or any age.  Enlightened liberalism seems to tell us either that we are individuals by nature or that we ought to be.  And yet, as was pointed out at the beginning of the chapter, the more we harp on individualism, the more we appear to be herd animals.  In earlier books, I surveyed some of the anthropological literature, which shows pretty clearly that, in so-called...

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Naples AMT 16

I had only been to Naples perhaps twice, once on my own for a day in order to see the Museo Archeologico, and then for New Years with most of the family 7-8 years ago.  Apart from the Museum and the pizza, I cannot say that I much liked the city for all the usual reasons: It was dirty, there were too many beggars, and the whole place seemed sinking in crime, corruption, and sycophancy. This time, I decided, I should give the city one more chance.  I picked a hotel in the Centro Storico, the Albergo Palazzo Decumani.  The...

3

Rome AMT 16 Part 2

Rome AMT 16 Part 2 What do I say about Rome, after a brief visit of three and a half days, that has not been said before by everyone including myself?  What could be more tedious than one of those breathless travel pieces written by visitors to famous places who have faithfully followed their master Rick Steves or The Blue Guide?  If only the gushers would adopt the blank-screen strategy I have recommended, and look at Rome with the fresh eyes of a Martian visitor!  But no, they have to say something significant, which means, in the end, they get...

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Wednesday’s Child: The Pursuit of Convenience

  The story may be apocryphal, but a friend told me the other day that the inventor, for lack of a better word, of the cylindrical paper sachet by means of which coffee bars where cappuccinos cost $5 dispense granulated sugar–thus distinguishing themselves from ordinary coffee bars, where the said sachets are in the more traditional shape of rectangles–took his own life. The man killed himself because he had grown disillusioned, not with mankind generally, but with the small portion of it that was using his invention; apparently, he had envisioned coffee or tea drinkers breaking the sachets in half...

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Properties of Blood, I.3: The Disappearing Individual, Part C

The Individual Disappearing in the Rearview Mirror To understand the apparent failure of moderns to attain to full humanity, we have to acquire a context for comparison.  Here, we are fortunate in being able to turn to our highest literary and intellectual traditions.  Friendship is an important element in Shakespeare and Dante; indeed, in Dante’s Commedia the poet is assisted through Hell and Purgatory by a series of friends, Vergil in particular, who have been sent by a lady in Heaven who is afraid that her friend stands in peril of damnation.  When challenged by Cato at the entrance to...

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Rome in the Year 16 AMT

Rome 2016 I I left Rockford with the best intentions.  I was going to write and post a diary of our six weeks (plus a few days) in Italy, even including the boring details of transatlantic travel post -911 or, as I prefer to call it, in the Age of Muslim Terrorism, as in “we left home on January 7, AMT 16. Our brief escape from the Midwestern Winter and presidential politicking seemed doomed from the start.  Jim Easton was kind enough to take us to the Van Galder bus station, where we soon learned that the departure schedule had...

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Wednesday’s Child: A Terminal Moraine

  Last week little brave Norway woke up to the news, sprung on her by the national TV2 channel, that Einar Gerhardsen, who had been her duly elected and much respected Prime Minister no less than three times–in 1945-51, then once more in 1955-63, and again in 1963-65–was, until his death in 1987, a KGB agent.  Recruited along with two members of his cabinet following a state visit to Khrushchev’s Soviet Union, thenceforth the august statesman, affectionately known to his countrymen as the “Landsfaderen,” or father of modern Norway, would answer to the code name “Jan.”  In fact, Gerhardsen was...

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Dissolving the German People by Robert Peters

Das Volk hat das Vertrauen der Regierung verscherzt. Wäre es da nicht doch einfacher, die Regierung löste das Volk auf und wählte ein anderes? The preamble of this piece is the last line from Bertolt Brecht’s poem “Die Lösung” (“The Solution”), written by the disillusioned Marxist after the failure of the Workers Uprising on 17 July 1953 and the communist government’s response to that uprising.  The title of the poem suggests an objective correlative with the Nazi term “Die Endlösung” (“The Final Solution”), “The Holocaust” in contemporary parlance.  The term also applies, perhaps more appropriately for this piece, to the...

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Wednesday’s Child: Summing Up and Down

  I begin with house statistics since the day before New Year’s.  We’ve had five guests staying here, all Russian in varying degree, including a Viennese lady by the name of Inga who, even when the lighting is all wrong, looks like a film noir star of the 1940’s.  Suffice it to say that an admirer had given the diva a riding crop for Christmas, which she kindly brandished for us of an evening while wearing, in an effortlessly choreographed sequence, three wigs she had providently packed in her luggage, a blonde, a brunette, and I think a redhead. As...