In “So Proudly We Fail,” James Agee looked at war films to explain the “unutterable dislocation” between soldiers and civilians, what he described–in 1943–as a destructive “chasm” that veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan describe with equal anger today even as the nation goes through the motions of marking its Veteran and Memorial days.
voices from the grave
Maj. Sullivan Ballou’s letter to his wife, written a week before he was killed at Bull Run in 1861, is one of the great eulogies of sorrow and divided duty to nation and family. As a memorial to the victims of war, who include survivors, especially civilians, the letter has few equals.
Fulton J. Sheen was that rarity of Catholic sermonizers: he was witty, earthy and unfriendly to religion’s two heels : dogma and doctrine. “How to Have a Good Time” is one of his most celebrated sermons from his “Life Is Worth Living” series, from 1957.
In a 1950 piece for Cosmopolitan that could have been written today, Eleanor Roosevelt sees through the vacuous sloganeering of the Republican opposition, though she’s not much kinder to Democrats.
Sanity is not the natural condition of the human mind, Bertrand Russell argued in this 1934 column, but a product of social life. It is a form of politeness, generated by the pressure of other personalities, which makes us know that we are not omnipotent.