Showing posts from February, 2013

Squalid Cash Interpretations

In the Sunday Times I ran across this curious bit of literary insight by Jackie Collins, the author of such gems as The Stud, The Power Trip, Thrill! and Hollywood Husbands.  Commenting on her favorite love stories, Collins remarked,
The Great Gatsby has always been a standout as far as love stories go. Jay Gatsby is such a mysterious and sexy character, and as a reader one can feel Daisy’s yearning to be closer to him, yet he always manages to pull away. Creating sexual chemistry on the page is organic, and I think F. Scott Fitzgerald had it down. Reading this, I couldn't help remembering the first time I taught Gatsby.  I was assigned a room full of bored undergrads who were  fulfilling a literature requirement during summer semester.  Half of them had failed Intro to literature in the spring, and the other half were international students, most of them engineering majors from the state university up the road.  One of my Saudi students said that he and his roommate had discuss…

Leo Szilárd and Unapprov'd Thoughts

The other day in the first year honors seminar we were discussing Book IV of Paradise Lost, which begins with Satan's magnificent confession of guilt and his decision to double down on his crimes by drawing mankind into sinful ruination. As usual we debated Satan's predicament. He knows he's wrong, yet he won't give up. Ironically, I pointed out, his best revenge would be to repent. After all, he's a crucial part of God's unfolding plan. Without him, Adam and Eve aren't presented with a choice.
To what degree, I asked, is Satan God's unwitting tool? And if he is, how can he be blamed?  One or two students wrinkled their noses and another scrunched up her face and muttered, "This poem makes my brain hurt." And so we began the merry-go-around of dizzying questions provoked by Paradise Lost.
How can anyone be at fault if this is all part of eternal providence?If God set this all in motion knowing what would happen, how can he escape blame?Why make…