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[Below: Soviet Poster, 1931 Public Domain.  In fact, “2+2 = 5.” is also a slogan from “1984”]     THE REPUBLICANS and their messaging partners seem to want to sabotage Biden’s Covid-19 success and don’t much mind that it shortens the life expectancy of their own voters, weakens the economy, kills innocent bystanders, and incubates new, deadlier strains of the virus. As with their Clueless Leader, they don’t seem to think or plan, but rather derive their actions from a collective Oppositional Defiant Disorder–opposing and defying order itself and most of the tenets of a functioning democratic society. But it’s gone too far with the deliberate and deadly lies. This country needs to enact some anti-propaganda legislation. Just as the right to bear arms does

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A very long time ago, my brothers and I slept three beds across in the same room downstairs. Several times each week our father made popcorn, drank soda, and read his magazines in the kitchen at the top of the stairs.  It was a ritual of his, and my mother apparently gave him that space; he worked long days and Saturdays, too. Some nights, after we were supposed to have been asleep, we heard the sound as he shook the iron skillet across the stovetop. This while the smell of fresh-popped corn wafted down.  Occasionally one of us would creep upstairs and ask for a bowl–but we would not be asking for a bowl of just any popcorn. The kernels came from the farmers in

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  IN MY MOTHER’S kitchen, and taped to the door of a cabinet where cups and plates are kept, is a laminated Catholic Diocese card. The card is divided into two distinct sections. The top part is titled The Corporal Works of Mercy. The “works” are ministrations to be made and observations to be kept in caring for –to name some of them–the poor, the sick, and the dead. The lower part describes The Spiritual Works of Mercy. This section addresses, among other items, forgiveness toward the wretched and prayers for the dead.  The Diocese card made it clear that Mercy took the form of both Thought and Deed. Earlier this week, after a spate of cool, damp weather had broken and given way to a

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  LITERATURE AND SOCIETY dance a duet and take turns leading.  It isn’t always apparent that changes in Art are a response to changes in society and culture  or whether the order is reversed. Yet the very “ominous” poem, The Second Coming by Yeats was written just after WWI, the “war to end all wars” (https://www.moviesmarketsandmore.com/twilight-in-the-land-of-more/). And Orwell’s dystopian 1984 (published 1949) was a response to totalitarianism before, during, and after WWII (https://www.moviesmarketsandmore.com/orwells-1984-is-the-book-of-our-time-a-canticle-for-eric-blair/ ). In the Roaring Twenties, the male and privileged romanticism of Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald were the rage. By the end of the Depression, the mantle of social authority was transferred to the destitute masses in Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath or the more haunted existences of the Deep South revealed in

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[Author’s Note: this year marks my 27th anniversary] Until I saw the date, February 2, it hadn’t occurred to me that it was my “birthday” again. This birthday–which is more of an anniversary–marks for me the first day of uninterrupted sobriety 22 years ago. It hadn’t seemed like a very important day at the time; in fact, if anyone had asked then, I would have said it was the worst day of my life.  I was bloated and quaking. My eyes were yellow like a cat’s–from jaundice. And my store of courage was so low I had to be led around like a child. There’s no question that on that day, my second life began. It would help to note here that I am not

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  ONLY TWO WEEKS AGO, when I posted The Sun, the Moon, and the Truth (https://www.moviesmarketsandmore.com/1838-2/), it hadn’t occurred to me that the financial sector might slip in at the back of the alternate reality parade and march into make-believe with other swarms of society.  In hindsight, there was already a “mania for the ages” in progress (https://www.moviesmarketsandmore.com/a-mania-to-rule-them-all/), and what is a mania if not an alternate reality and a distortion of truth–in this case truth as value?  One source I trust cited a pandemic-induced surge in day-trading as a source of fuel for the markets (most day-traders play the “long” side only–they are buyers who follow an uptrend or  “momentum traders.”).  This surely helps to explain the near vertical rise in the S&P500 index

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IN THE COLLEGES where I learned and taught, students were required to write papers and reports to demonstrate their understanding of topics or concepts. The emphasis was always to support a premise or an argument using credible sources: facts and authorities, proven theories or accepted logic, studies, and experiments. The strength of a paper or report relied upon the foundation of existing knowledge–of Truth.  Almost all we  can point to as human progress is a result of the process of establishing what is True and then building on it. The structure of human advancement is a citadel atop a mountain of Truth. Certainly the leaps in sciences could not have occurred if we had designed our cars and boats and planes  based on how we

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IMPORTANT SPIRITS FROM OUR PAST summoned their experiences, perspectives, and talents to deliver blessings and admonitions—invaluable gifts–to posterity. Homer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Hugo, Sappho, Simone De Beauvoir, Ursula Le Guin are just a few that come to mind. They used books, plays, and poems to craft messages and warnings that would be relevant for millennia. After all, the human drama is nothing if not a series of remakes and sequels. Because human group behavior is so repetitive, many such messages and warnings have the clarity of a premonition or a revelation. I just finished reading the George Orwell (his real name was Eric Blair) classic 1984 for about the seventh time. I have read it every four or five years since I was in college and

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  A Token of the Holly King By William Hecht Weekday afternoons at two o’clock, he began to look for her. Each time the little bell sounded to announce that the door to Ye Olde Coffee and Tea Shop had been opened, he would turn his head. As three o’clock grew near and brought with it the possibility that she wouldn’t arrive that day, he began to resent the other customers who instead appeared in the door at the sound of the bell. He imagined that she must have begun working at one of the neighborhood shops in mid-November, and that she probably arrived at work in late morning and took a break in the afternoons. Though it was nearly Christmas and she visited most

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  AT THE AGE of 22, my life path was given a shake when a roommate spontaneously recited a few poignant passages of a book he was reading. The title was The Day on Fire and the author, James Ramsey Ullman, had fictionalized the life of a great poet. Arthur Rimbaud was the enfant terrible of French Poetry; he was only 17 when he arrived in Paris, and by the time he turned 21 he had shocked the literary world.  He shocked my world, too. He wrote things powered by vision and imagination–and their impact was not overly weakened by filter of translation: As soon as the idea of the Deluge had subsided, a hare stopped in the clover amid the swaying bluebells, and said

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