The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary

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P.G.Wodehouse and the Word-Warriors of WW II

When the German army overran France and Belgium in the spring of 1940, it acquired a fair number of surprised aliens, among them Mr. and Mrs. P.G. Wodehouse.  After the outbreak of war, the Wodehouses had stayed on at their home in Le Touquet, P.G. working on a book, Mrs. P.G. doing her bit for the war effort by entertaining the members of the local RAF squadron.  The British military and civil authorities in the area had assured them there was no immediate cause for fear, and so, refusing to imitate what seemed to them unworthy panic in those who...

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Properties of Blood Chapter I, Part A

This text is for a limited time being made available without charge. Exiled Children of Eve I shall not cease from mental fight Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand Till we have built Jerusalem In England’s green and pleasant land.. William Blake was quite mad, even madder than most Swedenborgians, but many Christians (and post-Christians) less insane than Blake have dreamed of building a new Jerusalem, where the unpromising specimens of humanity they had known all their lives would live in perfect peace and uninterrupted joy.  This heavenly kingdom was not located in another dimension or in an afterlife...

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Real-life Work in the Movies by Ray Olson

Real-life Work in the Movies By Ray Olson Since my post on William Wister Haines, I’ve seen the 1937 adaptation of his novel (first and best of the four of his I’ve read), Slim (1934), about a young electric lineman; his sweetheart, Cally; his mentor, Red; his friend, Stumpy, a grunt or ground worker; and the foreman of his line crew, Pop. I’m exceedingly happy to say that it’s a minor classic. Reducing the novel to a screenplay, Haines conflates several incidents in the book; for instance, Slim is injured twice in the novel, only once on screen, and Cally nurses him...

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Sophocles’ Antigone 5

Antigone VII: Episode II The bodyguard had vowed never to return to Creon’s presence, but finding Antigone, he changes his mind.  “Afterthought (epinoia) gives the lie to/renders false an opinion.”  This thought may already have been a proverb, which was later rendered by John Dryden as “Second thoughts, they say, are the best.”   Who are the “they” that Dryden had in mind?  Perhaps Cicero and Euripides.  However, when Euripides’ Phaedra makes this observation, she refutes the statement—her second thought is to seduce her stepson.  Bishop Butler is probably closer to the mind of Euripides and Sophocles in saying, “The...

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Properties of Blood: Preface

Praefatio Praefationis Many decent men and women feel instinctively that their world has gone wrong and is going still wronger every day.  Whether the subject is marriage laws, immigration, crime, moral and aesthetic standards in the arts, or even decisions of war and peace, discussions are reduced to an exchange of slogans and sound bites crafted, cobbled, and propagated by opposing political factions.  Conservatives and liberals with common sense, when they are confronted with the ideas and projects of the revolutionary left, are so confused that they concede point after point to their opponents, and, before too long, they have...

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ISIS Punks and USA Vandals

When the Islamic State blows up the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, the UNESCO (the cultural arm of the United Nations) condemns the act as a war crime.  UNESCO’s director-general declared that in destroying ancient monuments, IS was “seeking to deprive the Syrian people of its knowledge, its identity and history.” In America, when political activists and legislators call for the removal of Confederate flags and symbols from public places, the destruction of Confederate monuments, and the desecration of the graves of Confederate officers, we do not hear a peep out of UNESCO.  Indeed, the entire world of right-thinking men...

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Triumph or Trompe l’Oeil?

  Triumph or Trompe l’Oeil? By Thomas Fleming This article is, for a limited time, being offered gratis to readers of this website. “What’s in a name?”  When Juliet Montague famously asked this question, she concluded that the mere fact of Romeo having the last name of Capulet could make no difference to her future happiness.  Her mistake would prove to be fatal. In normal societies, names are meaningful, either because they convey the essence of the person or because they are an identity badge that tells others where he fits into the society.    American Indians often acquired their...

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Sophocles’ Antigone 4

The Parodos The Parodos of the Antigone begins with a lyric ode and concludes with a brief anapaestic passage (a meter for marching and walking, not singing and dancing) that serves as a transition to the first episode. The chorus celebrate the sun that rises on the flight of the Argive army and the defeat of Polynices, the source (they say in punning) of strifes.  They draw a moral lesson from the Argive hero Capaneus, who had mounted the walls, boasting that not even Zeus could prevent him from torching the city. “For Zeus detests the boasts of a proud...

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Trump and the Gentlemen of the Press

The campaign season has hardly begun, but the press is already prowling the world looking for Republicans to destroy.  Their first intended victim is Donald Trump, whose first mortal sin  was a casual allusion to the number of illegal aliens who have rewarded America’s careless generosity by committing major felonies against its citizens.  He went on to impugn the valor of John McCain, and, most recently, to lash back at Megyn Kelly for her malicious and unprofessional style at the first GOP debate. Trump’s allegations are either true or false, and it should be the job of the press to...

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Sophocles’ Antigone 3

Autodidact:  Sophocles’  Antigone III Thomas Fleming The Structure of Tragedy First, a few words about the nature and structure of tragedy.  The origins of Greek tragedy lie in a long-standing tradition of choral lyric poetry.  In primitive tragedy, we can imagine a chorus of 12 male citizens chanting a processional introduction and singing formal odes on the exploits and, usually, death of a hero.  Later the number was increased to 15. At some point a hypokrites or interpreter was added.  Presumably this actor, as we call him, could both interpret the choral lyrics by introducing them and responding to them and...