You'd think Frank Rich's latest column would be easily characterized as pure hyperbole, but in Bush's America, it's not.
We've been radicalized; to what end? Why?
Disaster or not, the Iraq War was the integral part to the torture policy, the Gitmo policy, the suspension of habeas corpus, and all of the executive branch excesses of the Bush 43 era. Iraq was the opening volley, the brutal sucker punch, the arbitrary and self-righteous act of power by men worshiping themselves, strutting. Where do we go from here?
"History is a nightmare from which I cannot awake." --James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
I read this long section of Thomas Mann's in The Magic Mountain, and trust that I read it as a sad elegy for what was the leadership of the United States of America. Yea, no longer do the best and the brightest lead:
But in the darkness into which he fled to escape confusion, he could hear Settembrini's voice droning on in praise of literature. Not just the great thinkers, he exclaimed, but the great doers in every age as well, had been part of literature; and he named Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, named Frederick the Prussian and other heroes, even Lassalle and Moltke. It did not trouble him in the least when Naphta tried to send him packing to China, a land afflicted with the most bizarre idolatry of the ABC's ever known to history, where you could become a field marshal if you could sketch all forty thousand character--which surely had to warm the humanist's heart. Eh, eh, Naphta knew quite well that he wasn't talking about sketching, but about literature as the basic impulse of humanity, about the human spirit, which, mock as he might, was spirit per se, the miracle uniting analysis and form. That was what awakened our appreciation for all things human, weakened and dispelled foolish prejudices and beliefs, led to the civilizing ennoblement and improvement of humankind. And it did so by creating highly refined morals and sensitivities, while at the same time, and without any fanaticism, teaching healthy doubt, justice, and tolerance. The purifying, sanctifying effect of literature, the destruction of passions through knowledge and the Word; literature as the path to understanding, to forgiveness, and to love; the redemptive power of language, the literary spirit as the noblest manifestation of the human per se; the man of letters as the perfect man, the saint--such were the radiant tones of Herr Settembrini's hymn of apology.
(by Claude Monet)