It appears that The NY Times Book Review is shamelessly dumbing down for shallow readers in their “20s and 30s,” who are in fact at times symptoms of the modern malaise, not trendsetters who ought to be encouraged. Instead of accommodating PC drivel, The NY Times should be advising and encouraging them to strive to read and understand Saul Bellow.
Lowering literary standards further, though, ought to help corrupt corporate publishers, who have no standards but the bottom-line, using their ill-begotten wealth to pay for the exorbitant cost of advertising in The NY Times Book Review, and should make the plutocrats of Wall Street happy. Nothing like a dumb population to render them easy to control and rob… Bellow was a searing critic of media hacks throughout his novels and short stories. Perhaps that explains the betrayal.
Saul Bellow’s material isn’t a matter of fashion; it’s much of the foundation of anything worth calling civilization, despite the lack of defense, if not dismissal, by Sam Tanenhaus:
“For many he now belongs among the useless old gentlemen. Bellow admirers in their 20s and 30s are increasingly harder to find. “Humboldt wanted to drape the world in radiance, but he didn’t have enough material,” he wrote of one of his battered characters. Bellow had the material, in abundance, but it’s gone out of fashion. The great midcentury emancipator is now in danger of slipping into a forgotten past.”
Tanenhaus’ review makes clear he and The NY Times Book Review aren’t fit to touch Saul Bellow’s shoelace, let alone untie it.
See my essay “Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein–The Closing of the American Soul” in my book The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays (2014) for a deeper reading of the importance of Bellow and my further comments about Bellow castigating the corrupt media. “Saul Bellow’s Soul” is in my book The Grove of the Eumenides (2007) and in Saul Bellow and the Struggle at the Center (AMS Press, 1996). https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0982677839
The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays Hardcover. ISBN: 9780982677834. Earthrise Press, September 2014. 230 pages.
The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays. Published September, 2014.
Hardcover. ISBN: 9780982677834. Earthrise Press, September 2014. 230 pages. $22.95. Ships free in the USA within 24 hours.If purchased from this website, free shipping in the UK (from the printer in Milton Keynes) and to anywhere in the European Union, and in Australia (from the printer in Scoresby, Victoria). Elsewhere seeOrder Books Worldwide. DRM-free PDF $17.95.
Free PDF Copy of the entire book for evaluation: The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays
I’m afraid I’ve had to be away from The Globe for several months in order to focus on and finish writing The Myth of the Enlightenment. Now that it’s out and setup well on much of the Internet around the world, I hope to have more time to come back here and post my thoughts on things, at least once in a while.
There have been three review / blurb responses to the book so far, with more coming, I hope, with time…
Fourteen years in the making, The Myth of the Enlightenment is Frederick Glaysher’s first collection of literary essays since The Grove of the Eumenides in 2007. Divided into three sections, these essays and reviews were all written during the 21st Century, with many of them central to his evolving intellectual and spiritual struggle to write his epic poem, The Parliament of Poets, which he completed and published in late 2012.
These essays open up Glaysher’s own biography and his life-long interest in the writings of Leo Tolstoy, Rabindranath Tagore, John Milton, Saul Bellow, Robert Hayden, and other poets and writers, offering a fresh, new vision for literature and culture…
“In an era in which the value of human life has become as precarious and narrow as the study of the humanities itself, we need Glaysher’s voice more than ever.” —Phillip M. Richards, Colgate University
“In short this is a book I’ll be returning to for the rest of this year and no doubt afterward. I’m glad it exists and I’m grateful for the wisdom it sends my way.” —Laurence Goldstein, University of Michigan, Department of English
“Frederick Glaysher throws down a gauntlet to all who consider themselves informed and reflective thinkers. He compels us to consider the daunting question of what we read and why. His persuasive answer is constituted by the thoughtful criticism of the Myth of Enlightenment, which insightfully examines important texts from Milton, Tagore, Tolstoy and others of that eminence. Through a series of astute readings, he grounds the canonical status of these works in their high worth as a wisdom literature. That is, they constitute the experiential knowledge gained from the examined lives of our greatest writers. Whatever one’s final judgment of this claim, it must be considered if only for the literary acumen of this author. In an era in which the value of human life has become as precarious and narrow as the study of the humanities itself, we need Glaysher’s voice more than ever.” —Phillip M. Richards, Colgate University, Department of English, author of Black Heart: The Moral Life of Recent African American Letters
“This is a marvelous book of eloquent essays by Frederick Glaysher, one that honors the old literary masters, East and West, while exploring the deepest corners of spirituality and its implication for ameliorating the conditions of modern humanity. Reading each essay, whether it be Rabindranath Tagore, Saul Bellow, Tolstoy, or Robert Hayden, as examples, feels like entering into the secret chambers of the writer’s consciousness struggling “with what is universal in the human being”—struggling to express the universality of the human spirit:
Now more than ever, after centuries of falling down into the bottomless pit of nihilism, the world needs to recover the vision of universality, what the great religions and people of various centuries and cultures have in common. For all too long, humanity has obsessed with what distinguishes and separates, what divides people from one another, setting up our little racial, nationalistic gods and idols….Universality embraces all persuasions and transcends them. That is the great challenge.
“This quest is, as Glaysher clearly reveals, the never ceasing search for creative unity to which he and many others have given over their life, through their thoughts, words, and actions. The essays in this book aim for the author’s highest vision; that is, an attempt to “embody and represent the fullness of human reflection,” an inclination intended not just for academics, but a voice for all, and one that speaks to our time. And to that end, Glaysher has allowed himself to draw “from the soil of literature and culture whatever they need to produce and sustain their fruit.” In talking about his relationship with Robert Hayden, Glaysher tells us, “his own poetry had worked its way deep in to my consciousness.” I cannot think of a better way to describe how this book impresses itself on the reader; if there are millions of people waiting for a sign, as Allan Bloom is cited as saying, then this book is assuredly evidence of what such a sign looks like.” —Julie Clayton, New Consciousness Review
I The Myth of the Enlightenment
“Of True Religion” by John Milton 15
Tolstoy and the Last Station of Modernity 21
Leo Tolstoy’s Hadji Murad 39
The Poet’s Religion of Rabindranath Tagore 43
Tagore and Literary Adaptation 72
Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein—The Closing of the American Soul 79
Robert Hayden Under a High Window of Angell Hall 87
Aristotle’s Poetics and Epic Poetry 104
Decadence, East and West 108
The Post-Gutenberg Revolution—A Manifesto 129
II Reviews and an Interview
Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair 155
The American Scholar and the Decline of the English Department 157
Fang Lizhi and Human Rights in China 162
Bitter Winds, Indeed 167
Global Tragedies of Our Own Making 171
To My Opposite Number in Texas 173
Interview of the Author of The Bower of Nil 179
III Race in America
Robert Hayden’s Angle of Ascent 191
Creating Equal. Ward Connerly 198
Enough… Juan Williams 199
White Guilt. Shelby Steele 203
Reawakening the Dream. Shelby Steele 207
The Quest for Cosmic Justice. Thomas Sowell 210
Black Rednecks and White Liberals. Thomas Sowell 213
For Betty—Oh God, What Have We Done. David Horowitz 220
Winning the Race. John McWhorter 222
FROM the Preface
For over three-hundred years, civilization has been under the sway of the Myth of the Enlightenment. While the Enlightenment initiated a highly beneficial movement away from autocratic government and religion, a stifling reliance on past authorities, accompanied by an ever-increasing scientific and practical development, very early on stress and cracks began to be felt in the structure of the psyche and society. The twentieth century witnessed those cracks transmogrifying into crevasses of gaping and violent proportions, often circling the globe.
The last few decades have borne all the more testimony that the Myth of the Enlightenment has become part of the problem and no longer sufficiently comprises what is needed to resolve and heal what civilization is suffering from.
Speaking broadly, to reach the imagination of the entire culture, the cultural richness and plenitude of the humanities are essential and must include all of the religious and wisdom traditions. Story, myth, and drama reach the deepest into the psyche, as Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, among others, understood, as they had learned from the greatest works of art and myth that were in fact at the core of their own studies.
Science cannot alone heal the divide that it, too, suffered as a result of the upheavals of the seventeenth century and modernity, though quantum physics suggests a transition of worldview. Neither can literature and the humanities alone heal the wound of civilization. It can only be done together, an act in itself that at last demonstrates the divide has been crossed, dramatizing it, as it were, for all to understand…
Notes Over My Writing Desk, from top left down to right:
“The heart of so great a mystery cannot ever be reached by following one road only.” – Quintus Aurelius Symmachus (c. 345 – 402), a Roman statesman, orator, and man of letters, quoted by Augustine from exchange with St. Ambrose. Quoted by Arnold Toynbee in his Gifford Lecture.
“The passionate love of the artist for his subject is the soul of art. Without love no work of art is possible.” –Tolstoy, Letter, September 1889.
Virgil– write it out in prose. “No day without its line.” [Apocryphal? It shouldn’t be…]
“For the artist, however, a worldview is a tool and instrument, like a hammer in the hands of a stonemason.” –Mandelstam, from “The Morning of Acmeism,” quoted by Saul Bellow in Summations (The Bennington Chapbooks in Literature, 1987).
“Get the work out.” –Robert Hayden, to me once in conversation.
From top right, down:
“Long choosing, and beginning late.” — John Milton, Paradise Lost, BOOK IX
“Make the works.” — Walt Whitman, on a type of name plate reportedly on his desk
“I think we’re in danger of seeing a new dark age come over the mental life of the country. It is a very serious matter.” — Saul Bellow, The Dean’s December (1982).
“And the honour of virtue consists in contending, not in winning.” — Montaigne
“Certain it is, however, that this great power of blackness in him derives its force from its appeals to that Calvinistic sense of Innate Depravity and Original Sin, from whose visitations, in some shape or other, no deeply thinking mind is always and wholly free. For, in certain moods, no man can weigh this world, without throwing in something, somehow like Original Sin, to strike the uneven balance.” — Herman Melville, “Hawthorne and His Mosses,” 1850.
“The supreme test of a book is that we should find some unusual intelligence working behind the words.” — Herman Melville, “Hawthorne and His Mosses,” 1850.
Bottom, right, from a dream, August 30, 2008:
“This is the structure, this is the theme”: Sacrifice thyself for the good of others. Serve them. Lead them to the Light. Accept and bear thy load of suffering and pain for their sake, for the sake of God, the Absolute Reality. Oneness of God. Oneness of the Prophets. Oneness of humanity. “Radiant acquiescence.”
The Closing of the American Soul.
November 23, 2009.
When Saul Bellow’s novel Ravelstein was published in 2000, I did not rush out and buy a copy but closely followed the many reviews that began to appear. I had read almost all of Bellow’s work up to his last novel but felt for some reason that the time was not right to readRavelstein, despite my having ravenously devoured Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind when it had been published in 1987, and anything related to it. I trusted my intuition and attended to other interests, while more reviews continued to come out. Occasionally, I would stumble on one and read it, thinking Ravelstein was a book that I’d have to read someday. Then in 2005 I bought a copy when I happened upon it in a bookstore, but I didn’t read it. I put it on a shelf, waiting for the right moment. This fall, a year and a half into working on writing an epic poem, I realized I needed Saul Bellow’s help. I needed to know how things really stood with the Jews. Even more thanCommentary Magazine, I knew I could count on Saul Bellow to tell me the truth. He never lied to me in the past. I remembered Ravelstein and retrieved it. The right moment in the life of my soul had come….
ANN ARBOR—On September 22, 29, and October 6, the theatre company, Apollo’s Troupe, will stage the theater adaptation of the poem, The Parliament of Poets, written by Michigan poet Frederick Glaysher and published in 2012 by Earthrise Press. Continue reading →