Today it is popular to make more demands on the media, but I wish that the media would make more demands on us, would present less, be rougher around the edges, and leave more to our study and active interpretation. To invert Wordsworth, the world is too little with us.
If modern culture has constructed the perfect cave of shadows, we can profit from this example to better understand true enlightenment. The intensification of the real is the true value of simulation.
At once bold and scholarly, this book should serve as a model for all those who wish to overcome the artificial division between academic depth and general relevance.
The omissions in the historical record may be the most interesting parts. They truly teach us about ourselves by showing us what we have lost and what we are still seeking. The poems of Sappho and the paradoxes of Heraclitus were, in antiquity, a part of the Western tradition; now they are the subjects of speculation for feminists and process philosophers, who would like to make a new break with the historical record.
To deny the importance of history is also to deny the importance of science, as it is to deny the fundamental role of empirically given information in constructing a worldview.
After the unbearable excess of the last few years’ news cycles, it is very tempting to fantasize about how the news might disappear. Public gathering places may replace cable news channels with documentaries of bird migration, and radio news updates may be replaced by the live sound of wind chimes.
In our time, questions of acceptable speech and proper sensitivity have become paramount, and have compelled us to look more deeply at the intention and effect of language. In this respect, Ovid is a great case study, because he seems to have been, simultaneously, one of Rome’s most sensitive voices and the author of a noxious bro-bible.