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Foucault’s Principalities & Powers

In the late 1960s, a sociologist described French theorist ­Michel Foucault (1926–1984) as “a sort of frail, gnarled samurai who was dry and hieratic, who had the eyebrows of an albino and a somewhat sulfurous charm, and whose avid and affable curiosity intrigued everyone.” Claude Mauriac, . . . . Continue Reading »

Eminent Boomers

Every generation thinks itself the best, or the worst, or the first, or the last. Anything to distinguish it from the generations that came before. Intergenerational contempt is nothing new, even if it purports to be: It was there even as Marcus ­Tullius Cicero was beheaded in Rome in 43 b.c. But . . . . Continue Reading »

When Campion Met Miss Anscombe

Edmund Campion (1540–81) and Elizabeth Anscombe (1919–2001) were among the most brilliant of their generations of Oxford students: he at St. John’s College, she at St. Hugh’s. Later, each held fellowships in the university and delivered sermons in the university church of St. Mary the . . . . Continue Reading »

Adversary Culture in 2020

The unrest that erupted in late May 2020 started in ­Minneapolis, my hometown, with the death of George Floyd in police custody. In the protests and riots that followed, Black Lives Matter and Antifa were the shock troops, “police brutality” the rallying cry. It seemed at first an uprising from . . . . Continue Reading »

Beyond the Grave

The idea that one can report on one’s own death is paradoxical, if not preposterous. As ­Epicurus wrote in his Letter to Menoeceus, “When we exist, death is not; and when death exists, we are not.” To which Woody Allen added the ­footnote, “I don’t mind dying . . . as long as I . . . . Continue Reading »

Lamb to the Slaughter

George Frazier had a story about the first time he met John O’Hara. The journalist and clotheshorse Frazier was introduced to the novelist O’Hara while hanging out at a Greenwich Village jazz club. The famously cranky O’Hara looked Frazier up and down before inviting him to have a drink. . . . . Continue Reading »

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