All Souls: The expression brings to mind a family story from South Boston, or the Oxford college that produced T.E. Lawrence and Sir Isaiah Berlin. (That’s the college chapel reredos in the picture above.)
But the day after the day after Halloween — a k a the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed — is an apt day to visit the underworld again with Dante, and his guide, Virgil, and our guide, Alexander Aciman, who is blog-trotting the poem at parisreview.org. ”The theological underpinning of the feast is the acknowledgment of human frailty,” as one reliable Catholic encyclopedia has it, and there’s plenty of frailty in Canto IV: Dante sees Virgil’s face overcome by a “fearful pallor,” and when he asks Virgil why, Virgil tells him that ”it is not fear, but pity, that has altered his expression; the pair are entering limbo, where those who might have been able to enter paradise, had they lived in the time of Christ, are instead forever confined.”
No, not everybody:
Dante asks Virgil if anyone has ever made it out, and in the slightly embittered tone of someone who has watched countless coworkers get promoted above him, Virgil tells Dante of Moses, Noah, and a few others who were “plucked” from limbo and taken upward by some mysterious stranger.
Departed, you are in mind this morning.
However you slice and dice the history, the strategery, and the underlying issues, the decision to live with a government shutdown for an extended period of time — inflicting modest-but-real harm on the economy, needlessly disrupting the lives and paychecks of many thousands of hardworking people, and further tarnishing the Republican Party’s already not-exactly-shiny image — in pursuit of obviously, obviously unattainable goals was not a normal political blunder by a normally-functioning political party. It was an irresponsible, dysfunctional and deeply pointless act, carried out by a party that on the evidence of the last few weeks shouldn’t be trusted with the management of a banana stand, let alone the House of Representatives.
This means that the still-ongoing intra-conservative debate over the shutdown’s wisdom is not, I’m sorry, the kind of case where reasonable people can differ on the merits and have good-faith arguments and ultimately agree to disagree. There was no argument for the shutdown itself that a person unblindered by political fantasies should be obliged to respect, no plausible alternative world in which it could have led to any outcome besides self-inflicted political damage followed by legislative defeat, and no epitaph that should be written for its instigators’ planning and execution except: “These guys deserved to lose.”
—Brian Philips, in an essay on Peyton Manning.
Interviewer: What attracted you so much to Dick?
Carrére: For me, he’s the Dostoyevsky of the twentieth century, the guy who understood it all. Actually, I am struck by his posthumous life—not only all the movies based on his books, but all the movies that aren’t, like The Matrix, The Truman Show, and Inception, that show reality disappearing behind its representation. It used to bother me that all these people didn’t admit their debt to Dick. But in the end, I think it’s great. WHat twenty years ago we called the world of Philip K. Dick is now just the world. We don’t need to cite him anymore. He’s won.