Cynthia Ozick: Let us now praise Philip Roth

Celebrating the dark side.

Philip Roth dead? Expelled, this genie of biting comedy? Inconceivable. He was always on the scene, and with each irrepressible new work seemed virtually to be making a scene. Uncontainable and unquenchable, he was a steady presence that could not be imagined as void.

Yet Stockholm shunned him. Of all the significant awards that could be conferred on Roth during his multilauded decades, only the Swedish dynamite inventor’s eluded him. Well, then: In the transformative perspective of Roth’s demise, let us reconsider.

It may be that the Nobel was never worthy of this iconoclastic satirist, wily cultural historian, sublime fictive ranter, comic tragedian, outraged citizen, contradictory wit, epic insulter and monumental imaginer.

How should those obtuse northland jurors, denizens of a frost-bitten society highly ranked for alcoholism and suicide, warm to the emotional temperature of the postwar Jewish Weequahic neighborhood of Newark, N.J., out of which the grandson of immigrants might emerge to become one of the most renowned American literary masters of his century?

It’s all in this vein, engaging to the end.

Roth’s shallow Jews, including his rabbis, are always and only creatures of sociology. And sociology, because it is collective, is caricature; and caricature is comedy; and comedy is zest. (When John Updike, catching up to the contemporary Jewish novel of that era, gave us Bech, a literary Jewish protagonist, it was a Jew wholly out of Roth—but without the zest.)

In life beyond fiction, Roth knew Jews of darker and denser dimension: the Israeli Aharon Appelfeld, who died earlier this year, and the Romanian, now American, Norman Manea, extraordinary writers and thinkers who as small boys of 8 and 5 were deported to Transnistria, a German killing center in Romania. Appelfeld and Mr. Manea met only as adult survivors, and it was through his singular championship of the suppressed and censored writers of Eastern Europe that Roth drew close to their fates. If Roth brought Kafka to Newark in one of his stories, it was because consciousness of Europe was already there.

In the loss of Philip Roth, we can hear a small sliding hisslike noise: the sound of a generation turning on its hinge. Gone are Bellow, Updike, Mailer, Malamud, Gaddis, Gass, Sontag, Wolfe, the household names, the headline names. Whoever comes next, there will be no one equipped with the dizzying laughter of Roth.

Not a wasted word.

Appreciation: Philip Roth – WSJ

‘Gay Doesn’t Matter’ Remark Continues ‘Shadow Magisterium’

Why does Francis keep having these conversations that has him saying something and not saying something at the same time?

Why doesn’t the Vatican press/news office deny what he’s supposed to have said? Why does Francis not lay into the supposed prevaricators? He’s generally not shy about laying into people.

How long will this kind of back-door point-making continue, assuming that’s what it is? And are we not justified in thinking that’s what it is. Again, he’s not shy about making points. Why not in these cases, denying or doubling down?

Shadow magisterium? Good turn of phrase, if nothing else. And it does not look like it’s nothing else.

via ‘Gay Doesn’t Matter’ Remark Continues ‘Shadow Magisterium’

Trump tweets support for Chicago police union members who protested Emanuel

[See correction of what I wrote, below!]

[What I wrote —>] Quickie here, caption correction for sake of journalistic objectivity.


President Donald Trump tweeted that the city won’t allow “tough police work” to stop Chicago violence, which he falsely said is at a “record pace.” (Evan Vucci / AP)

Correction: Make “falsely” “inaccurate.”



Whoa, slow down! The above quote is from the story, picked up (naturally) by the caption-writer! 

This was the ChiTrib City Hall reporter writing this, for gosh sakes!! Shame on him!!

via  Chicago Tribune

Schools are safer than they were in the 90s, and school shootings are not more common than they used to be, researchers say . . .

. . . in a study by 

Mass school shootings are incredibly rare events. In research publishing later this year, Fox and doctoral student Emma Fridel found that on average, mass murders occur between 20 and 30 times per year, and about one of those incidents on average takes place at a school. . . . .

Their research also finds that shooting incidents involving students have been declining since the 1990s. . . . . 

Read more about this at: News @ Northeastern

China’s mass indoctrination camps evoke Cultural Revolution

The horrors of communism, 

When I was a kid in the early ’40s, we had Horrors of War gum-wrapper cards. We boys went for the gore, as in the Japanese “rape of Nanking” and German bombing of cities. Arms and legs flying, you know.

Today’s kids could get their kicks out of cards depicting Chinese treatment of upwards of tens of thousands of internees, Muslims, who are put through Edgar Allen Poe-like interrogations and terrorizing.

Makes a body ask (again), what hath Marx and Engels wrought?

Read about it at this riveting, horrifying account by Associated Press. 

Pope Francis’ mistrust of free markets: A Chicago retort

ChiTrib very good here, dealing with Francis gently enough but making strong points clearly.

Pope Francis’ attacks on capitalism can be fiery. He has railed against “compulsive consumerism” and called the unfettered pursuit of money “the dung of the devil.” We’ve heard his oratory previously, and we respectfully disagreed with the sweeping nature of the criticism. Why? Because the pope brushes aside how capitalism lifts so many of the world’s people out of poverty. Now add to the litany a harsh new Vatican appraisal of western economics personally approved by Pope Francis.

Pay special attention to the reference to how capitalism, a.k.a. free market, raises people out of poverty.

A lengthy document released Thursday by the Roman Catholic Church goes into surprising detail in its takedown of business, competition, deregulation and the shareholder system. Concepts named and vilified in the paper include derivatives (a class of financial instrument that includes futures), credit default swaps and offshore banking. Debt securitization, a complex pool of assets that can be risky for investors, is a “ticking time bomb ready sooner or later to explode,” the paper says.

Gives us an idea of how deeply entrenched the Vatican powers-that-be, headed of course by Francis, are immersed in leftist ideology.

more more at Chicago Tribune

The Great German Meltdown

It’s a German thing, says Victor Davis Hanson.

Every 20 to 50 years in Germany, things start unraveling. Germans feel aggrieved. Ideas and movements gyrate wildly between far left and far right extremes. And the Germans finally find consensus in a sense of victimhood paradoxically expressed as national chauvinism. Germany’s neighbors in 1870, 1914, 1939—and increasingly in the present—usually bear the brunt of this national meltdown.

Germany is supposed to be the economic powerhouse of Europe, its financial leader, and its trusted and responsible political center. Often it plays those roles superbly. But recently, it’s been cracking up—in a way that is hauntingly familiar to its European neighbors. On mass immigration, it is beginning to terrify the nearby nations of Eastern Europe. On Brexit, it bullies the British. On finance, it alienates the southern Europeans. On Russia, it irks the Baltic States and makes the Scandinavians uneasy by doing business with the Russian energy interests. And on all matters American, it increasingly seems incensed.

more more more at Hoover Institution