"But Achen and Bartels’s primary thesis is that most voters are influenced not by shark-related panic but by group attachments. According to research they cite, “Even in the context of hot-button issues like race and abortion, it appears that most people make their party choices based on who they are rather than on what they think.” Weil expects this, noting, “The artificial crystallization into political parties coincides so little with genuine affinities that a member of parliament will often find himself disagreeing with a colleague from within his own party, and in complete agreement with a politician from another party.” But Weil’s notion of citizenship — really of humanity — is an intellectually strict one, and is unsympathetic to the idea that people should let any kind of social group influence their decisions. For her, engagement is a moral good, in and of itself. From this perspective, the divisions that parties themselves promote are therefore responsible for voter ignorance."
"He is senex, but is he pater? We're not told of any children, and his habit of hanging out with hermits and sailors does not lead our thoughts in the direction of family life. Maybe that's one of the points of the poem, written (after all) soon after Coleridge himself became a father. In the marginal prose glosses Coleridge added to the poem, the white-bird albatross is described as ‘the pious bird of good omen’. Pietas is a particular Roman virtue associated not just with duty, righteousness and obedience to divine command, but with duty to one's family in particular. It's not just a piety but a filial piety. Might it be that killing the pious bird is impious in a specifically familial sense?
The Romans had several sacred birds, including eagles and doves, but the specific phrase pious bird, pia avis refers specifically to the Stork and crosses over from Roman use to Christian (Saint Ambrose thought the stork embodied pietas) because of its supposed devotion to its young: ‘ad pedes Ciconia apparet, quia preces fundit publicas & privatas; vel ob piétatem erga parentes: quam ob causam hanc avem piam vocant Romani’ [Eucharius Gottlieb Rink, De veteris numismatis potentia et qualitate lucubratio (1701), 171].
In all countries where the Stork breeds it is protected; boxes are provided on the tops of the houses; and he considers himself a fortunate man whose roof the Stork selects. There is a well authenticated account of the devotion of a Stork, which, at the burning of the town of Delft, after repeated and unsuccessful attempts to carry off her young, chose rather to remain and perish with them than leave them to their fate. Well might the Romans call it pia avis! [Henry Baker Tristram, The Natural History of the Bible (1867) 248]
The stork's association with childbirth survives into popular belief even today. Conceivably, the Mariner's killing of this pia avis is a cutting-off of his own potential as a father and progenitor."
I know, as much as I can know anything, that she hears water and laughter outside. The quick shimmer of her son’s own laugh. The annoyance of the running water. During a drought? Come on. And outside so the neighbors can see? The neighbors would definitely see. But why was he laughing? The simple joy of running through a backyard sprinkler. The mischievous playfulness of wasting water during a dry time. The feeling of the dead grass under naked food. The delicate crunch.
The tiny mysteries move her most. She slides across the linoleum like she imagines someone in a movie might.
Three simultaneous vertical planes of vision lay on the back door window. In the farthest are the roofs of other houses, variations on brown and gray. Not a spectrum. A patchwork, ad hoc like everything in America. One single white roof in the far distance pins the monotony together.
In the nearest is the reflection of her own face, which she sees but ignores. A limp shock of hair bifurcates her eyes and lips, snaking around her nose completely.
The familiar shape of her son, blurred by glass and sprinkler water, moves through the middle distance. His hands grab at something in the sky. His yellow shorts puff in a searching wind. She seems him move to avoid a splash.
Her eyes narrow. She squints to see. She thinks she sees me.
I’m the other figure, the same shape as her son but larger, moving in and out of his shadow. I might be a friend, but not one that she recognizes. Older. A teenager? Maybe a small adult, even. The spectrum of her emotions dulls and contracts into the disharmonious monotony of the distant rooftops.
She doesn’t exhale until she opens the door and sees her son scampering, alone, to twist the nozzle off.
“Sorry mom! I know, i know, i know…”
Yeah, pretty clever getting up so early and all, the neighbors will see you running around in that thing and throw a fit. I know you think you’re slick, but you can’t even get away with it with your own clueless mother…
“I said I know, I know, I know…”
He runs past her, grazing her forearm with his wet body.
And whatever I was - an illusion, a misapprehension, a cosmic figure dissolved under her conscious gaze - I’m out of sight as well. Totally gone.
"But war doesn’t really end, as Virilio noted, it just accelerates, approximating ever more closely to its pure form. In an era infatuated with the ‘politics’ of everything, he thought instead in terms of war. Modernity is war on ever increasing scales: expanding from the tactical to the strategic to the logistic. World War II was won not by generals but by quartermasters, by the ones who kept the biggest flows of boots and bullets and bodies moving toward the front.
Modernity is also war on more and more kinds of terrain. Warfare not only took to the air but to the airwaves. The modern world is a condition of generalized information warfare. Not only is architecture vulnerable to bombs, it proves defenseless against information, passing through the doors and walls of our homes, rearranging the space and time we imagine we live within."
"This is one way that ideology works: The assumptions of the theory are not true, so you set out to change the world so that the assumptions become true. It also shows how deluded limited-government conservatives are. Once economics becomes the queen of the sciences, given initial conditions, we get the technocratic management of utilities that oversees free-market exchanges to ensure that they are Pareto-optimal, which they must be if what economic theory predicts as true is in fact true. And because “comprehensive doctrines” are proscribed, there’s no leverage in public life to point us toward a different outcome. This is not theoretical. It describes with relative accuracy some of the crucial features of American public life in 2018. Economics as a discipline did not create these present conditions. It would be an absurd determinism to imagine that to be so. But the discipline of economics, as practiced for the last one or two generations, makes today’s impoverished public debates and our end-of-history entanglement with the technocratic administrative state seem normal, natural, even inevitable."
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor