Camille Paglia

"The only problem I have with computers and television is that when all cultures on earth reach the stage we are at it will lead to a kind of homogenization.
Interest in and patience with long, complex books and poems have alarmingly diminished not only among
college students but college faculty in the US. It is difficult to imagine American students today, even at elite universities, gathering impromptu at midnight for a passionate discussion of big, challenging literary works like Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov -
a scene I witnessed in a recreation room strewn with rock albums at my college dormitory in upstate New York in 1965.

['The Grand Inquisitor' chapter in 'The Brothers Karamazov' is nothing short of an intellectual symposium worthy of Plato.]

As a classroom teacher for over
thirty years, I have become increasingly concerned about evidence of, if not cultural decline, then cultural dissipation since the 1960s, a decade that seemed to hold such heady promise of artistic and intellectual innovation. Young people today are flooded with disconnected
images but lack a sympathetic instrument to analyze them as well as a historical frame of reference in which to situate them. I am reminded of an unnerving scene in Stanley Kubrick's epic film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, where an astronaut, his air hose cut by the master computer
gone amok, spins helplessly off into space. The new generation, raised on TV and the personal computer but deprived of a solid primary education, has become unmoored from the mother ship of culture. Technology, like Kubrick's rogue computer, Hal, is the companionable servant
turned ruthless master.

The computer, with its multiplying forums for spontaneous free expression from e-mail to listservs and blogs, has increased facility and fluency of language but degraded sensitivity to the individual word and reduced respect for organized argument,
the process of deductive reasoning. The jump and jitter of US commercial television have demonstrably reduced attention span in the young."

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More from @DonPJenn

13 Sep
@RBrookhiser GW & Lincoln both touched on balance between liberty and authority.

"And by teaching the distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority;....The people should know how "to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of
licentiousness, cherishing the first, avoiding the last, and uniting a speedy, but temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws."


"Must a government of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain
its own existence?”


I wonder if either had read Burke?

"Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains on their own appetites in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity; in proportion as their soundness
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12 Sep
From the first paragraph of Moby Dick, following "Call me Ishmael."

"Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a
little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before
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12 Sep
Herman Melville - Literary Critic

"Certain it is, however, that this grat power of blackness in him derives its force from its appeals to that Calvinistic sense of Innate Depravity and Original Sin, from whose visitations, in some shape or other, no deeply thinking mind is
is always and wholly free. For, in certain moods, no man can weigh this world, without throwing in something, somehow like Original Sin, to strike the uneven balance. At all events, perhaps no writer has ever wielded this terrific thought with greater terror than this same
harmless Hawthorne. Still more: this black conceit pervades him, through and through. You may be witched by his sunlight,--transported by the bright gildings in the skies he builds over you;--but there is the blackness of darkness beyond; and even his bright
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12 Sep
The critic as demolition expert. H. L. Mencken's review of 'Comrades' by Thomas Dixon (photo below), which appeared in the April, 1909 issue of The Smart Set:

"The first chapters of this intolerably amateurish and stupid quasi-novel well-nigh staggered me, and it was only by
tremendous effort that I got through them at all. After that, I must confess, the task became less onerous, and toward the end the very badness of the book began to exercise a nefarious fascination. I was exploring new worlds of banality, of vapidity, of melodrama, of
tortured wit. I felt the thrill of the astronomer with his eye glued upon some new and inconceivable star - of the pathologist face to face with some novel and horrible coccus. It will lie embalmed in my memory as a composition unearthly and unique - a novel without a single
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11 Sep
Serious payback. In the assault on Berlin Zhukov lined up 9,000 guns and rockets along an 18.5 mile front on the Seelow Heights 35 miles from Berlin. That's one artillery piece every 11 feet. In the wee hours of April 16, 1945 as many as 500,000 shells were fired in the first 30 ImageImageImageImage
minutes. For comparison, the massive Allied assault on the Gustav line in Italy in 1944 featured “only” 2,000 guns firing 174,000 shells over 24 hours. The British bombardment at the Battle of the Somme in World War I boasted 1,537 guns which fired 1.5 million shells over 4 days. ImageImageImageImage
The Soviet crews at the Seelow Heights could have hit that total in about 90 minutes.

Result - Soviet victory
Suicide of Adolf Hitler and deaths of other high-ranking Nazi officials. Unconditional surrender of the Berlin city garrison on 2 May. Capitulation of German forces ImageImageImageImage
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10 Sep
Schopenhauer on the Philistine. From what I see around me, especially from the media, there is no shortage of Philistines about.

"From the fundamental nature of the Philistine, it follows that, in regard to others, as he has no intellectual but only physical needs, he will seek Image
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