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Showing posts from May 21, 2023

A cat must have three different names: Eliot as a young critic

  Cynthia Ozick wrote a famous reckoning with   T.S. Eliot – and his problem with the Jews – for the New Yorker in   1989. The beginning of the essay is marred by the “impression journalism”that identifies Ozick with the proto-cultural warriors, always on the lookout, then, for the decline in Western Civ. Ozick claims, without any references whatsoever, that Eliot is no longer taught in the colleges and the universities, and that he is only remembered for Prufrock. This, at the end of a decade in which the longest running musical on Broadway was called Cats. Ozick, like her soulmates on   the conservative cultural magazine of that decade, the New Criterion, dispenses with providing evidence as though that, itself, were some persnickety politically correct trick. Thus,   there is no grubby looking through actual college catalogues to prove her point, or looking at Anthologies to see if Eliot has so palpably dwindled. In this kind of journalism,   impression quickly reduces to fact and

defining hatred, deflating hatred

  Yeats is the great poet of defining hatred – the hatred that makes the self definite to itself.   He is the great poet of the moods of this hatred: he understood, as well, what sacrifice it coerces from the heart, what a burden it is to perpetually carry around an enemy’s list. Of course, being a Tory of the ultra kind, he saw hatred as being a property of the Left. Being a poet, though, he suspected it was a property of being Yeats. In the Prayer for his Daughter, there’s a marvelous, a legendary account of this: My mind, because the minds that I have loved, The sort of beauty that I have approved, Prosper but little, has dried up of late, Yet knows that to be choked with hate May well be of all evil chances chief. If there’s no hatred in a mind Assault and battery of the wind Can never tear the linnet from the leaf. An intellectual hatred is the worst, So let her think opinions are accursed. Have I not seen the loveliest woman born Out of the mouth of Plenty’s horn,


  I am oddly proud of the fact that I lived about a bicycle ride away from ground zero of the start of the second Drug War. That war started in a birthday party in Decatur, Georgia. in his book about the drug wars of the Reagan era – which stretched into the Clinton era, until the pharmaceutical companies got seriously into getting Americans wasted -   Dan Baum makes the claim that it all started with   Ashley Schuchard, the thirteen year old daughter of an English prof at Emory, whose invitees to her birthday party in 1976 all got stoned, shocking her mother:: “During Ashley’s birthday party, Schuchard was amazed to see twelve and thirteen year olds stumbling around red-eyed, giggling, and obviously stoned. She saw the flicker of matches in dark corners of the back yard. She could smell burning reefer.” Carter was elected president that year. As Baum puts it, drug enforcement was a low priority for the Carter administration. In general, the middle class, or the upper middle clas