Aunt Lydia is a Centrist Democrat

Aunt Lydia is a notorious villain in Margaret Atwood‘s The Handmaid’s Tale and in Hulu’s TV series of the same title. In the sequel novel, The Testaments, we readers hear from her directly as she, from the pinnacle of power in a decaying Gilead, pens a memoir which tells us her backstory and how she rose through the ranks to near sainthood. On page 215, she writes, pondering her methodology in managing the Aunts:

I’m a great proponent of better. In the absence of best. Which is how we live now.

This should be the motto of Centrist Democrats, since the only claim they ever make is that they are better than the grifters of the Republican Party.

P.S. I finished the book. Without giving away spoilers, I don’t believe Margaret Atwood’s character arc for Aunt Lydia.

Shakespeare’s Henry V had Warmongering Pundits Just Like USA Presidents Do Today!

The Columbia County Georgia public library allows me to download audio books to my Android devices. I’ve been listening to Shakespeare’s Henry V. In Act I, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Ely, Westmoreland, and Exeter encourage and advise the English King Henry V to claim the throne of France while maintaining control of Scotland. The full text is available online.

After reading the text, think about the pundits writing in the New York Times & Washington Post and speaking on NPR & CNN & NBC and try to remember when the last time you read or heard anybody speaking against militarismContinue reading

Are we acting roles from a dog-eared script?

From the novel Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Chapter Nick Dunne: One Day Gone.

We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, they Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can’t recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn’t immediately reference to a movie or TV show. A fucking commercial. You know the anwful singsong of the blasé. Seeeen it. I’ve literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can’t anymore. I don’t know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the Internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say; when  a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we wan to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script. It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters. And if all of us are play-acting, there can be no such thing as a soul mate, because we don’t have genuine souls.

Rejoicing in USA Civil War Led to More Wars

I’ve previously blogged about the dangers of romanticizing the United States Civil War. Sinclair Lewis’s voice in It Can’t Happen Here, Doremus Jessup, in Chapter 13 considers the dangers posed by people who believe they have The Solution and questions the value his 1930s contemporaries place on the Civil War:

Slavery had been a cancer, and in that day was known no remedy save bloody cutting. There had been no X-rays of wisdom and tolerance. Yet to sentimentalize this cutting, to justify and rejoice in it, was an altogether evil thing, a national superstition that was later to lead to other Unavoidable Wars–wars to free Cubans, to free Filipinos who didn’t want our brand of freedom, to End All Wars.

Let us, thought Doremus, not throb again to the bugles of the Civil War, nor find diverting the gallantry of Sherman’s dashing Yankee boys in burning the houses of lone women, nor particularly admire the calmness of General Lee as he watched thousands writhe in the mud.

Lepidus in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: In your coalition, are you the donkey carrying cargo?

Marcus Aemilius Lepidus joined Marc Antony and Octavius in their war against Julius Caesar’s killers. Historians differ in evaluating his weight in the Second Triumvirate, but Shakespeare was unambiguous in his judgment of Lepidus as a lightweight. Continue reading

The Redemption in Dickens & Dostoyevsky Doesn’t Work in Real Life


4 Broz by Broz by DJ Oatmeal and Lil 2k10

This entry contains plot “spoilers.” What’s wrong with you? You haven’t read Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment yet?


Continue reading

The Dangers of USA Civil War Nostalgia & Romanticism

On November 5, 2015, author Robert Hicks (Twitter) talked about his book The Widow of the South and the place of the USA Civil War in history at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia, USA as part of the 5th Civil War Symposium. In my opinion, he oversold the position he took in his New York Times column on the 150th anniversary of the final day of the battle in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. What I heard, which may not be exactly or substantially what Mr. Hicks said, was that the federal government’s victory in the Civil War preserved the United States so it could play a saving role for humanity “twice” in the 20th century C.E. Continue reading

In memory of Octavia Butler


In memory of Octavia E. Butler (June 22, 1947 – Feb. 24, 2006), science fiction writer who addressed issues of race, sexuality, gender, religion, class, and the environment in her award-winning books. Listen to her interview from the Democracy Now! archives: “Octavia Butler on Race, Global Warming, and Religion” What books or essays by Butler have you used in the classroom? Photo: Octavia Butler signing Fledgling at a talk hosted by Teaching for Change and Busboys and Poets in Oct., 2005. Books by Butler: