Assembling Quotes

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The Golden Bough captured the imagination of many artists in the early twentieth century. Eliot, certainly, was immersed in it, discussing it familiarly in his graduate school papers and book reviews and constantly alluding to it in his art. The most straightforward advice he offers to readers of The Waste Land (given in the notes to the poem) is, in paraphrase, that any serious reader of the poem must take into consideration modern scholarship in myth and anthropology, especially Frazer Golden Bough and Jessie Weston From Ritual to Romance. The poet says that he is indebted to this scholarship for his title, his plan, his symbolism, and many of his references to ancient religion and society. His claim about the title, taken from the monomyth of Frazer and Weston, his claim about the symbolism, associated with the birth-death-rebirth cycles of the myths, and his claim about the miscellaneous undergirding references have been discussed by Grover Smith and other scholars. We wish to focus more on Eliot's claim about being indebted to Frazer for the plan of the poem. We believe it refers, at least in part, to Frazer's use of the comparative method and to his practice of assembling many perspectives and allowing these perspectives to make his point. It must be noted at once that Eliot was quite selective in his admiration of Frazer. For example, he did not admire Frazer's positivism. Frazer put his faith in science and celebrated what he called the evolution from magic to religion to science. Nor did Eliot share Frazer's conclusions. In his 1913 paper on the interpretation of primitive ritual, he says that Frazer's interpretations of specific myths (the myth of the dying god is his example) are almost certainly mistaken. But Eliot did admire Frazer's erudition and his increasingly nontheoretical presentation of many angles of vision which in themselves tend to generate an overarching abstract primitive vision. In 1924, on the occasion of the publication of a condensed edition of The Golden Bough, Eliot wrote a review in which he lauded Frazer for having "extended the consciousness of the human mind into as dark a backward and abysm of time as has yet been explored." Eliot argues that Frazer's importance for artists is in his exemplary withdrawal from speculation, his adoption of the absence of interpretation as a positive modus operandi.

Jewel Spears Brooker
The 9/11 Commission warned that Al Qaeda "could... scheme to wield weapons of unprecedented destructive power in the largest cities of the United States." Future attacks could impose enormous costs on the entire economy. Having used up the surplus that the country enjoyed as part of the Cold War peace dividend, the U.S. government is in a weakened financial position to respond to another major terrorist attack, and its position will be damaged further by the large budget gaps and growing dependence on foreign capital projected for the future. As the historian Paul Kennedy wrote in his book The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, too many decisions made in Washington today "bring merely short-term advantage but long-term disadvantage." The absence of a sound, long-term financial strategy could bring about a deterioration that, in his words, "leads to the downward spiral of slower growth, heavier taxes, deepening domestic splits over spending priorities and a weakening capacity to bear the burdens of defense." Decades of success in mobilizing enormous sums of money to fight large wars and meet other government needs have led Americans to believe that ample funds will be readily available in the event of a future war, terrorist attack, or other emergency. But that can no longer be assumed. Budget constraints could limit the availability or raise the cost of resources to deal with new emergencies. If government debt continues to pile up, deficits rise to stratospheric levels, and heave dependence on foreign capital grows, borrowing the money needed will be very costly. [Alexander] Hamilton understood the risks of such a precarious situation. After suffering through financial shortages, lack of adequate food and weapons, desertions, and collapsing morale during the Revolution, he considered the risk that the government would have difficulty in assembling funds to defend itself all too real. If America remains on its dangerous financial course, Hamilton's gift to the nation - the blessing of sound finances - will be squandered. The U.S. government had no higher obligation that to protect the security of its citizens. Doing so becomes increasingly difficult if its finances are unsound. While the nature of this new brand of warfare, the war on terrorism, remains uncharted, there is much to be gained if our leaders look to the experiences of the past for guidance in responding to the challenges of the future. The willingness of the American people and their leaders to ensure that the nation's finances remain sound in the face of these new challenges - sacrificing parochial interests for the common good - is the price we must pay to preserve the nation's security and thus the liberties that Hamilton and his generation bequeathed us.

Robert Hormats
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