Hamlet: Act 1

Still more. ACT 1, SCENE 1 Several things about the first scene are worth examining. First, the play begins on a cold and bitter night on the ramparts of Elsinore. The darkness provides a fitting setting for the revelation that the world is out of joint, that something is rotten in the state of . . . . Continue Reading »

Hamlet: Texts

More notes toward a lecture. Shakespeare’s Hamlet exists in three significantly different forms. The earliest published text, the First Quarto or the “Bad Quarto,” appeared in 1603. Though recognizably Shakespeare’s play, it is different in many significant ways, and . . . . Continue Reading »

Hamlet: Sources

Some notes toward a lecture on Hamlet. When Shakespeare put the story of Hamlet on stage in the early seventeenth century, the story was already an old one. Saxo Grammaticus, a 12th-century monk, told the story of Amleth, Prince of Jutland in his Historiae Danicae. According to Saxo’s version . . . . Continue Reading »

Girardian Dickens

Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities rings the changes on the Girardian dynamic of mimetic violence. Blood evokes and demands more blood, until an oppressive and disordered ancien regime collapses into chaos. And the only path out of the game of violence and counter-violence is through Sidney . . . . Continue Reading »

“Natural” architecture

In an overview of the architectural work of Santiago Calatrava, Sara Williams Goldhagen (TNR January 23) cautions against the chimera of architecture grounded in “nature”: “Maybe the first architects needed to pay obeisance to nature’s designs, but that primal moment is long . . . . Continue Reading »

Sermon Outline, Fourth Epiphany

INTRODUCTION Solomon ends Ecclesiastes where he began, by emphasizing our lack of control (11:5) and the brevity of life (12:1-8). Wisdom means adjusting our actions and expectations to these realities. THE TEXT “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a . . . . Continue Reading »

Eucharistic meditation, Third Epiphany

Ecclesiastes 4:1: Then I returned and considered all the oppression that is done under the sun: And look! The tears of the oppressed, but they have no comforter— on the side of their oppressors there is power, but they have no comforter. The great evil that Solomon describes here is not . . . . Continue Reading »

Baptism meditation, Third Epiphany

Ecclesiastes 4:8: There was a certain man without a second, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, and for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure. This too is vapor and a grievous . . . . Continue Reading »

Exhortation, Third Epiphany

According to what has become the “traditional” interpretation of the Constitution, every American woman has the right to kill her unborn baby. Since the Roe v. Wade decision in January of 1973, over 45 million babies have been killed, and, though the abortion rate has slowed since 1990, . . . . Continue Reading »

Same and Other

Evaluating Levinas and his criticisms of Husserl, Derrida probes the coherence of Levinas’ notion of “infinitely other.” Contrary to Levinas, who argues that we are incorrectly seduced by everyday life to think of the other as an “alter ego,” Derrida says: “The . . . . Continue Reading »