Blog Archives

Educator and Cultural Critic Jacques Barzun Dies at 104;

 

Historian, essayist, cultural gadfly and educator Jacques Barzun, who helped establish the modern discipline of cultural history, was probably best known for viewing the West as sliding toward decadence. He died Thursday night at his home in San Antonio.  He was 104.

His remarkable curiosity and manifold interests and accomplishments, encompassed both Berlioz and baseball (and many other subjects.) He stood with Sidney Hook, Daniel Bell and Lionel Trilling as one of  the mid-20th century’s most wide-ranging scholars. He tried to reconcile the achievements of European philosophy and culture with the very different American intellect and culture.

He wrote dozens of books across many decades, demonstrating that old age did not necessarily mean intellectual decline. He published his most ambitious and encyclopedic book at the age of 92 (and credited his productivity in part to chronic insomnia). That work, “From Dawn to Decadence,” is an 877-page survey of 500 years of Western culture in which he argued that Western civilization itself had entered a period of decline.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Barzun showed little interest in taking political positions. This was partly because he became a university administrator and had to stand above the fray, and partly because he approached the world with a detached civility and a sardonic skepticism about intellectual life.

He traced periods of rise and fall in the Western saga, and contended that another fall was near — one that could cause “the liquidation of 500 years of civilization.” It looks like he won’t be around to see it.

 

Cartoon(s) of the Week – Romney handles foreign policy

 

A note about this section of Under The LobsterScope. Every Sunday, unless I am hospitalized or on the road to a far away place, I do Cartoon(s) of the Week. If it’s a week where one editorial cartoon has stood out as towering above the others, that’s all that will appear. Most weeks, however, I present several of the best cartoons I have found, usually on a current news theme.

Your comments on this section, whether you agree with my choices or not, are greatly appreciated. If you send a sample of your favorite to appear with your comment, please include the cartoonist’s name (often hard to make out on the cartoons) and the publication it appeared in.

– Bill

John Branch in the San Antonio Express-News:

Perhaps Mitt should have avoided ANY comments until learning about the situation…

– and –

Bill Shorr from Cagle Cartoons:

Then again, why nor use foreign policy to campaign with?

– and –

Jim Morin in the Miami Herald:

Of course, supporting the President is un-Romneylike.

– and –

Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Mitt – you live in the mess you’ve made.

 

 

Michelle kicks it off tonight…

I’m looking forward to it. Michelle Obama speaks in the 10 – 11 PM slot, preceded by the Keynote Speaker, Julián Castro, Mayor of San Antonio, Texas.

The Convention opens at 5:00 PM when Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz,  brings down the gavel. Harry Reid, Rahm Emanuel, Joseph Kennedy III (one of several in the Kennedy family honoring the late Ted Kennedy) and Kal Penn, among others, speak tonight.