Indeed, the Republican Right, while it worries plausibly about the loss of traditional values in an era of peace, is an example of the deformities it decries, since historically prosperous societies which perceive no outside threat have been the only ones that have the luxury to preoccupy themselves with discussions about such things as sexual values. The problem, though, is that we have no such luxury. The peace we think we have is only an interregnum before another cycle of conflict. The narcissistic isolationism of the congressional Republicans – who call for enforcing democracy abroad while denying the State Department the tools it requires for our own security interests and who refuse to pay our U.N. dues – comes at a time when the world vaguely resembles what it was before the outbreak of World War I. (Robert Kaplan, from The Coming Anarchy)
Hey, what do you know? Another month has passed, and Previews #290 has dropped! Let’s check it out, even though all of this has been available on the Internet for two or more weeks!
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“We start our lives in chaos, in babble. As we surge up into the world, we try to devise a shape, a plan. There is dignity in this. Your whole life is a plot, a scheme, a diagram. It is a failed scheme but that’s not the point. To plot is to affirm life, to seek shape and control. Even after death, most particularly after death, the search continues. Burial rites are an attempt to complete the scheme, in ritual. Picture a state funeral, Jack. It is all precision, detail, order, design. The nation holds its breath. The efforts of a huge and powerful government are brought to bear on a ceremony that will shed the last trace of chaos. If all goes well, if they bring it off, some natural law of perfection is obeyed. The nation is delivered from anxiety, the deceased’s life is redeemed, life itself is strengthened, reaffirmed.”
“Are you sure?” I said.
“To plot, to take aim at something, to shape time and space. This is how we advance the art of human consciousness.” (Don DeLillo, from White Noise)
And all the time, like pipes dripping, weakening and preparing to burst in the attic, around the house hearts were slowly breaking while nothing was being said. (Hanif Kureishi, from The Buddha of Suburbia)
“What of the success of the Expulsion?” Carranque asked. The driver was momentarily silenced.
“Success for the Catholics?” I ventured.
“Certainly not, Señora.” Now it was Carranque who laughed. “The Expulsion of the Jews was an unmitigated disaster for the Catholics. For a brief time, Their Catholic Majesties feasted on the properties and treasures left behind by the running Jews. But after a very short while they awoke to the truth that their best and their brightest had fled. Gone were their merchants, their statesmen, their doctors, their artisans and their artists, their poets, their musicians, their singers, and their leatherworkers. Without its Jews, Spain dried up into the shriveled olive it is today.”
“So the success?”
“Was the success of the Jews — the Jews who fled to Morocco, to Italy, to Greece, to Turkey, to the Netherlands. They spread their art and learning across the Mediterranean, through the Strait of Gibraltar and northward into Europe. They made a virtue of exile, found their greatest reward in exile, found their humanity, their lost identity, in exile.” (Jonathan Levi, from A Guide For The Perplexed)
Every month, I’m so excited to write up these posts and I think to myself, “This time I’ll write a lot about DC and Marvel and how cool their stuff is!” And then I start reading Previews … and, yeah. Maybe this month will be different, so let’s jump right into issue #288!
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“Stories have no point if they don’t absorb our terror.” (Don DeLillo, from Mao II)
“It is only petty men who seem normal.” (Umberto Eco, from The Name of the Rose)
“How do you feel, Yossarian?”
“Fine. No, I’m very frightened.”
“That’s good,” said Major Danby. “It proves you’re still alive.” (Joseph Heller, from Catch-22)
Man, I’ve been doing this for six years. Has it helped any of you find new comics you’d otherwise miss? Well, I hope so. Do I get grief every time I do it? Of course! But I’m a masochist, so let’s check out the two hundred eighty-sixth edition of Previews and see what we can find! Yeeeeeee-ha!
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For them it might stave off what he could not help but see with clarity: that the world was silent and cold and bare and that in this lay its terrible beauty. (David Guterson, from Snow Falling on Cedars)