The U.S. government’s so-called “War on Drugs” predates Richard Nixon’s coinage of the term in 1971 by many decades, though it is under his administration that it assumed its current scope and character.[...]
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I recently happened upon the Modern Library’s “100 Best Novels” list and noticed something interesting. The list divides into two columns—the “Board’s List” on the left and “Reader’s List” on the right.
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I have not had the occasion to meet my intellectual or literary heroes, those still alive, of course. And from most of the accounts of those who have, it’s probably for the best.
The United States has two important cultural means of self-examination—the work of foreign observers and of domestic satirists. In the former category, we have the longstanding example of political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville and the much bleaker, contemporary vision of Werner Herzog.[...]
If you wanted to know what life was really like in the Cold War Soviet Union, you might take the word of an émigré Russian writer. You might even take the word of Ayn Rand, as the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) did during the Red Scare, though Rand had not lived in her native country since 1926.[...]
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There are those guest hosts on Saturday Night Live who immediately become exemplary cast members they fit in so well. I’m thinking mostly of Alec Baldwin. Then there are those—certain pop stars and athletes—who are too awkward even to make for unintentional humor.
The Marxist Frankfurt School’s practice of negative dialectics put the “critical” in critical theory, and none of its loose band of philosopher-critics was as incisive as the dour, depressive Theodor Adorno.[...]
For many people, the arguments and analysis of Karl Marx’s three-volume Das Kapital (or Capital: A Critique of Political Economy) are as relevant as ever. For many others, the work is a historical curiosity, dated relic, or worse.[...]
By its very nature, propaganda distorts the truth or tells outright lies. It targets our basest impulses—fear and anger, flight or fight. While works of pure propaganda may pretend to make logical arguments, they eliminate nuance and oversimplify complicated issues to the point of caricature.[...]
And now, comedian Harry Shearer.
What role do these gifted performers have in common?
Langella and Sir Anthony resurrected the 37th president within the framework of carefully crafted screenplays. Shearer’s approach is just as actorly, but his material isn’t exactly scripted.