Against Politicized Aesthetics: A Review of “Baudelaire Contra Benjamin” by Beibei Guan and Wayne Cristaudo

Walter Benjamin was one of the most important literary and critical theorists of the 20th century, or so the narrative goes. Beibei Guan and Wayne Cristaudo, at a very informative moment in their work, mention how the “authorities” of the human condition are no longer the great writers and philosophers of the past—like Homer, Plato, Augustine, … Continue reading Against Politicized Aesthetics: A Review of “Baudelaire Contra Benjamin” by Beibei Guan and Wayne Cristaudo

Literary Tales Ep. 10: Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra”

In this lecture of literary tales we explore Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, principally in Shakespeare's dialectic of the coldness of politics (embodied by Ocatvian/Augustus Caesar) and the rapturous ecstasy of love (embodied by our titular tragic protagonists Antony and Cleopatra). This lecture explores the theme of love and politics (covered in this lecture) in fuller … Continue reading Literary Tales Ep. 10: Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra”

Love, Forgiveness, and “The Iliad”

“For all the battle scenes, violent sex, and rage that fills [The Iliad], the most memorable scenes in the poem are moments of love—especially loving moments of embrace.” Befitting Holy Week, here is an essay of mine concerning the themes of love and forgiveness in the very source of Western literature: The Iliad. Deconstructing Homer's … Continue reading Love, Forgiveness, and “The Iliad”

The Erotic Cosmos of John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”

Is John Milton a man for our time or all time? The blind and pugnacious, indeed, radical, English poet arguably wrote the greatest epic in the English language. While claiming to “justify the ways of God to men,” Milton’s remarkable poem is not only a window into the battles of early modern English civilization, it … Continue reading The Erotic Cosmos of John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”

Literary Tales Ep. 2: Sex, Civilization, and the Epic of Gilgamesh

In our concluding lecture on the Epic of Gilgamesh we explore the person of Enkidu and the roles of sex, marriage, and friendship in the formation of civilization. This lecture includes commentary on Aristotle, Catholic sexual ethics, and Camille Paglia to help shed insight into the perplexing and most interesting character of the Sumerian epic: … Continue reading Literary Tales Ep. 2: Sex, Civilization, and the Epic of Gilgamesh

Literary Tales Ep. 1: The Epic of Gilgamesh

In the inaugural lecture of our literary tales podcast, we explore the Epic of Gilgamesh as the great epic that captures that moment of humanity's grand transformation from hunter gatherer to settled man with the birth of consciousness capturing the pivotal moment of the Neolithic Revolution. In this lecture I discuss Gilgamesh as the Hegelian … Continue reading Literary Tales Ep. 1: The Epic of Gilgamesh

Virgil’s Use of Consciousness, Memory, and History in “The Aeneid”

The grandest image of Virgil’s Aeneid is the shield forged by the god Vulcan in the eighth book of Aeneas’ adventure to “Lavinian shores and Italian soil.” Virgil pays homage to Homer, his master and mentor, who also describes a grand image on a shield forged by the gods for Achilles. But where Achilles’ shield … Continue reading Virgil’s Use of Consciousness, Memory, and History in “The Aeneid”

John Keats’ “Lamia”: The Banishing of Love, Or Aristophanes vs. Socrates

John Keats’ “Lamia” was the last of his four grand poetic romances. The poem tells the story of the tragic woman Lamia, who in Greek mythology had been transformed into a serpent-like creature who devours children after the goddess Hera—oh those trouble-making Greek gods again—destroyed her children. Hera punished Lamia further by making her sleepless … Continue reading John Keats’ “Lamia”: The Banishing of Love, Or Aristophanes vs. Socrates