Saturday, November 15, 2014

"My mental health file whirs to life in 1969 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I’d recently left Opus Dei, the Catholic religious order to which I’d committed my young soul, and a major depression had followed. "

I told Scialabba at some point that his early experience with Plato and Opus Dei had done lasting harm to his imagination, that he had a weakness for authority. He responded, like a Jesuit, that since his opinions were unpopular he didn't have authority on his side.
Patient is seen as a courtesy visit because he is no longer actually eligible for consultation here, as he graduated here from the college [Harvard] in June of this year. He has plans to attend Columbia Graduate School.

He comes with very intense questions regarding Catholicism. In the last several months he has begun to question increasingly whether he can support a body of thought which stresses orthodoxy and lack of investigation. He approaches the problem with me and with himself quite intellectually, but he is indeed, in spite of intellect, feeling in much emotional turmoil over this. Support was given to him to move towards a middle ground, which, in his style, is very hard for him.

He has felt frightened of the loss of the church, and, therefore, it was clarified that he need not give up the church, or an organization to which he belongs in the church, to pursue his questioning, and that he would not be able to be content in any position he took until he opened up the questions with himself and others. He was also concerned that some of his actions have been inappropriate, and I did not feel that they were inappropriate save that they were indicative of a young man in considerable turmoil over some very important questions in life, and this was stated to the patient.
"… Search [in Shakespeare] for statesmanship, or even citizenship, or any sense of the commonwealth, material or spiritual, and you will not find the making of a decent vestryman or curate in the whole horde. As to faith, hope, courage, conviction, or any of the true heroic qualities, you find nothing but death made sensational, despair made stage-sublime, sex made romantic, and barrenness covered up by sentimentality and the mechanical lilt of blank verse."
Scialabba hates literature. He's the perfect literary critic for readers of Max Weber
Consider a discipline such as aesthetics. The fact that there are works of art is given for aesthetics. It seeks to find out under what conditions this fact exists, but it does not raise the question whether or not the realm of art is perhaps a realm of diabolical grandeur, a realm of this world, and therefore, in its core, hostile to God and, in its innermost and aristocratic spirit, hostile to the brotherhood of man. Hence, aesthetics does not ask whether there should be works of art.
"Scialabba's jeremiads are celebrated by technocratic readers only because they won't change a thing: technocracy wins regardless. There's a nastiness behind that, a hidden nihilism, their bloody valentine to the humanities that can offer nothing in return."

"Literature as art is the discussion of values as manifest in actions. That the actions are fictional is irrelevant."

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