History, Religion and Philosophy
We no longer have a memory of this underworld. We live on the surface. The only notion of the underworld that I grew up with, though I never seriously believed in it, was Hell. Hell is a fairly recent invention, its mention in the New Testament is a translation of the word Gehenna, a literal place outside Jerusalem, sometimes said to have been a garbage dump, and sometimes said to have been a place where human sacrifice had once taken place.
In the late 80s I wrote a piece, The Inquisitor as Anthropologist, and I realized with some real embarrassment that notwithstanding my emotional continuity with the victims, there was also an intellectual continuity with the inquisitors. And so I tried to make sense of those two continuities including the most disturbing, which was the second.
With the massive popularity of series like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, it's clear that as wondrous and strange as the world of fantasy is, we have no problems imagining ourselves in it... But Dr. Nicholas Perkins, curator of the Bodleian Library’s exhibition “The Romance of the Middle Ages,” knows that these stories are not just fantasy—they tell us something essential about ourselves.
Fear sent a cramp ripping through her belly. She knelt at the hearth, clenched her teeth and set a corn cake in the hot ashes alongside the others. The last time Ben got this mad, he broke a man’s jaw.
On May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion, soon to become prime minister, and other leaders of the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine, gathered in the city of Tel Aviv and declared the establishment of the state of Israel. It was the fulfillment of the hope of a people exiled 2000 earlier by the Romans and scattered throughout the Roman Empire.
And you sit back/
in your deep sofas/
and turn us out/
after all is done/
cracking up in laughter/
at our helplessness/
but we go straight/
to the mandir/
behind the blue-dome...
What made this visit to Stutthof even more profound and painful is the fact that I am a German and my husband Jamie is a Jew.
Unfortunately, Obama has failed to seize what might have been a progressive moment. We’re fighting two failed imperial wars at once, and trying to prop up a failed capitalism. I stay hopeful about my students. I wish the world were a better place for them, and I think you always have to respect the potential of youth.
We watched Costner’s sleek Gulf Stream jet, featuring the Warner Brothers logo on its tail, taxi into the private terminal of Rapid City Airport. Kevin disembarked alone with an overnight bag and a very old Pendleton Blanket folded under one arm.
“This is a crazy place in so many ways,” says the Eagle. “A few years ago, a local official planned to destroy the church and say that no Armenians lived here. But, the church has been photographed so often and travelers have written about it. Even he had to agree the idea was stupid. Although no one will say it out loud, everybody knows the Armenians have been here as long as anyone can remember.”
But what the new sciences of complexity teach us is that when a system is shifting from one basin of attraction to another, there is an accumulation of noise in the old system and the unbounded and free agents are drawn to a new basin of attraction. If the system is a culture, then the transition of state can be what is called "a dark age."
Meaning is found in our capacity to formulate, use, and understand symbols. In terms of language, a symbol is not the thing itself, but a verbal or written stand-in for that something. When we think of meaning this way, it becomes obvious that the word dog is not something we can pet. The word house is not something we can live in. Rather, words are a way of naming things without requiring the thing’s actual presence.
Editor's Note: Wild River Review reprises our interview with historian James McPherson. The American Civil War Sesquicentennial formally started on April 12, 2011 and marked the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War on April 12, 1861.