Monthly Archives: February 2015

Translating from language to language, and from sense to sense

The absinthe is a highly alcoholic spirit that has been languorously praised for the special pleasures it lavishes, especially erotic and artistic. Both kinds of pleasure were famously combined in the tumultuous, absinthe-soaked relationship ( 1871-73) between French poets Paul … Continue reading

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The Public Role and Value of Literature

Here are three interesting recent essays that raise major questions about the relationship of modern literature to religion, politics, and the market. Joseph Bottum:  “The Novel as Protestant Art: A great metaphysical drama played out on the world’s stage.” “Nonetheless, … Continue reading

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Tristan’s Chord and his Friend

“Save yourself, Tristan!” cries Kurwenal, trying to save his friend’s life as Tristan and Isolde begin to make love. In The World as Will and Representation (1818, 1844), German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer pays special attention to suspension, a technical device in … Continue reading

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The Blue Eyes of the Beloved

One of the warmest experiences in a friendship is when your friend falls in love and celebrates it with you. I always find it exhilarating to hear my “other self,” Pantelis Polychronidis, talking to me about his love for a … Continue reading

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The Revolution murders its Poets

Since the late 18th century tragedy has been taking the form of a political drama where the revolution, whether it prevails or not, commits hubris, violates its principles, and collapses. The theme is pervasive in both theater and opera. Act … Continue reading

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“Benedici a tanto amor!”

This divine cantabile is for goddess Artemis Leontis, the bel canto of my life, who makes every day Valentine’s day for us. In Act I, Scene 3 of Bellini’s opera seria I Puritani (1835) in a fortress near Plymouth, England, during … Continue reading

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“Don’t walk away, in silence”

There are bands, and then there are great bands, and then there are unique bands, and then there is Joy Division. In a mere two years (1978-80), between their incarnations as Warsaw and New Order, they shimmered in that rare … Continue reading

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