Politics and Society

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Rules of Chaos (1969), by Stephen Vizinczey

   Stephen Vizinczey is a writer and novelist, Hungarian by birth, Canadian by nationality, who now lives and writes in England. His self-published, so-called “erotic” novel, In Praise of Older Women, which was written in the early 1960’s, has just last year been re-released by Penguin as a Modern Classic. But my focus here is his 1969 non-fiction thriller, The Rules of Chaos: Why Tomorrow Doesn’t Work.  This latter is a spellbinding examination of, and confrontation with, some of our most cherished and - according to Vizinczey - presumptuous existential beliefs.
   Vizinczey propounds a thesis, in direct opposition to the received wisdom of our overly ambitious and over-confident culture, which is bound to shock some. (Indeed, in keeping with the radical spirit of the day, that was likely a priority.) Even after the intervening years, or, perhaps especially because of the last ten, it still challenges a now less comfortable equanimity.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In Honor of Britain's National Poetry Day

    A Modest Proposal of Feline Taxonomy
       by Dr. Prof. Erwin Fuzzwinkle, Ph. D. of the Humane Society

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Ántonia (1918), by Willa Cather

Primus ego in patriam mecum . . . deducam Musas
                          --Virgil, Georgics

    Willa Cather (1873-1947) was an American writer of extraordinary emotional intelligence and unsurpassed literary excellence. Her writing is as crisp and clean as river ice, as luxurious as new-spun wool and as richly textured as farmland topsoil. She was an artist of incredible depth of feeling, for her characters, as well as for the land and the past that they grew out of. She was also the greatest admirer and chronicler of the kind of love, luck and endurance of hardship that it takes to be a pioneer. She brought all of these qualities and abilities to bear in My Ántonia.
    It is the story of a love and a life-long reverence held by a man for a woman who was his childhood friend and companion, since the time they both were transplanted - he, an orphan at 10, from Virginia and she an immigrant child of 14, from Bohemia (the modern day Czech Republic) - to the unbroken, unploughed plains of Nebraska in the 1890’s.