Widening Democratic Communities

DH Lawrence calls art "a sort of subterfuge" with "two great functions. First it provides an emotional experience. And then, if we have the courage of our own feelings, it becomes a mine of practical truth". Art, then, is something to experience and something to learn from. It can teach about the artist, the culture... Continue Reading →

Poetry Draft (working title)

Adrienne Rich's essay Notes Toward a Politics of Location examines how 'place' is influential on artists, particularly poets. Starting with one's body, she works her way out, from micro to macro, and examines the relationship between color, gender, and place. "I was born not only female and white, but Jewish- enough for geographic location to have played,... Continue Reading →

Spirit of Place

In Democratic Vistas, Walt Whitman writes that the US is in need of a truly democratic culture. Works of art, social institutions, and the essence of Americans needs to be rooted in democratic values and ideals. The US had proved itself capable of winning wars, making people rich, and becoming an economic behemoth but could... Continue Reading →

Secondary Succession

Walt Whitman’s Democratic Vistas is a rallying cry, and a very long one. Whitman witnessed hundreds of thousands of men die in the Civil War and the country he loved ripped apart by inherent differences. But how can folks from the same country be so different? What was inside of them that made them so... Continue Reading →

Identity Crisis

A few days after September 11th, I remember two boys fighting on my school bus. These two often fought but today was different. They usually would hurl insults back and forth until the bus driver intervened or a few fists would replace the words. On this day, it was easy to tell one boy just... Continue Reading →

Material World

Kanye West's song All Falls Down discusses inequality and materialism in America. His lyrics shed light on how societal pressure, class division, and racial issues drive his own materialism: “ Man, I promise, I'm so self-conscious That's why you always see me with at least one of my watches Rollie's and Pasha's done drove me... Continue Reading →

Does Democracy Breed Indulgence?

In What Spirits the Americans Cultivate the Arts focuses on comparing the role of production and fine arts in aristocracies vs democracies, how class impacts perception of value, and materialism. Tocqueville maintains that democratic people value utility over aesthetic, stating "They will habitually prefer the useful to the beautiful, and they will require that the... Continue Reading →

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