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[ Cover of Harvest Books edition of Sophocles' 'Oedipus Cycle' plays ]
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[ ] "...the destiny that is sinking in darkness...."[fn.51a[ Go to footnote! ]] [ ]
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(--Hermann Broch, The Sleepwalkers, p.648)
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One of my few "positive" memories of my preparatory schooling is Sophocles' "Oedipus Cycle" plays which we read in English (class and language...). Not only the text, but also the picture on the cover [Above[ See cover of Harvest Books ed. of Sophocles' 'Oedipus Cycle' plays! ]], engaged me. (Forty years later, I am becoming unsure whether some of the thoughts I think I had about these plays in high school may, instead, have come from my college years?)
Some of the things in the plays that appealed to me were: (1) the Choral Ode in Oedipus at Colonus the second stanza of which begins: "Best of all never to have been born, second best to have seen the light and go back swiftly whence one came...." (2) The "Ode to Man" in Antigone: "Many things are strange, but strangest of all is man...." (3a) The Chorus's words near the end of Antigone: "Pray no more: the sky is deaf", and (3b) Creon's: "All understood, too late." (I did not have a "happy childhood" -- #1 has long seemed to me applicable to my whole social milieu of origin.)
Oedipus putting his eyes out, on the other hand, did not appeal to me. Please see my alternative proposal: Oedipus's tragedy was not inevitable.]
An indication how much this book impressed me is that it is one of the very few books I still have from college (1964-68), and, if it is indeed from "high school" (I did not date books when I bought them "back then"...), it may be the only book from there which I still have. That hollowed out head with eyesocket holes somehow spoke to me of the vacuity of my social surround and the persons who composed it, e.g., "my" teachers.
Philip Johnson's AT&T building, 1984
As a young adult, I saw Philip Johnson's AT&T building in New York: "The Chippendale skyscraper", as it was sometimes called then on account of the empty oculus on top [Right[ See Philip Johnson's AT&T building, New York! ]]. The windows reminded me of the eyesocket holes on the old book cover; these windows probably had some UV filter coating, but, for whatever reason, from the street, all one saw "thru" them was black -- as if the inside of the building was lightless void: an empty brain case, a-mented space....
When, at about age 37 (1983), I went back to graduate school, the teacher in one of my courses (Maxine Greene, "Esthetics and education"), permitted me to write an essay on "Morality in modern architecture", instead of the regular course assignments. [See also: "Architecture and morality": fn.108a[ Go to footnote! ]] In my essay, I examined Robert Venturi as bad (demeaningly cynical), Louis Kahn as good (humanistically ethical), and Philip Johnson as amoral. I analyzed Johnson's AT&T building as an example of paying great attention to quality in construction of a building that does nothing to improve the quality of life of the persons who inhabit it. --Those "black" windows that seemed to look into emptiness, like the hole in the head on the book cover.... [See more examples of this kind of facade that says, or, more precisely, doesn't say because it's just blank, but from which we "read off": "I express nothing; there is no meaning behind me": Lower Manhattan looking lifeless and abandoned even without having been attacked (02Jul06).]
Hubris, 2004
The current President of the United States: George W Bush, seems, like Creon in Antigone, by his stubbornly wrong-headed policies, to be leading his (Alas: our!) nation to ruin (except that Creon seemed more intelligent than Bush: more like Lyndon Johnson). The hollow head [Above[ See cover of Harvest Books ed. of Sophocles' 'Oedipus Cycle' plays! ]] seems yet again to symbolize the situation I find myself in, although, this time, at a world-historical geo-political level, instead of just a parochial [in the secular sense] "prep school" named after a man who hit his head when he had an epileptic seizure and fell off his horse on a Roman road ca. 35CE (St. Paul).
Will George W Bush, like Creon, demonstrate the capacity to appreciate, after the damage has been done, that he was wrong? The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines dysphasia, from which George W Bush appears to suffer, as: "loss of or deficiency in the power to use or understand language as a result of injury to or disease of the brain".
[ ] [ Philip Johnson's AT&T building, New York ]
Q:  Is the adventure of Universalizing, emancipatory Culture ["Modernity" as it arose in the West...] over? (L'Avventura)
Read  Edmund Husserl's lecture: Philosophy and the Crisis of European Humanity (1935).
Read  Garrett Hardin's classic essay: The Tragedy of the Commons.

See  another picture symbolic of our time: Trotsky in Copenhagen (Robert Capa, 1932).
See  my design for a building in which to think about the Decline of The West.
Our Century: "The century of barbed wire".
Running on empty....
Meet Oscar!
Dies irae  (This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a sacrilegious cartoon...).
Narrenschiff (Ship of fools).
[ Visit building to study The Decline of The West! ]
See how Oedipus's tragedy could have been avoided.
Find out my basic constructive beliefs (This I believe). [[ Go to 'This I believe' page via intro.... ]View intro!]
Learn why a city can deserve to exist (Louis Kahn).
Learn more about Philip Johnson's AT&T building.
Read: George W Bush jokes about his dysphasia.
Read more about George W Bush (43rd U.S. President).
Read  about my preparatory schooling (Recollections of Chapel).
Learn  about my (BMcC) childrearing (The Sorrow and the Pity).
[ George W. Bush's face ]

[ Notice what's hiding in plain sight! ]Practice not overlooking the obvious.
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Copyright © 2004 Brad McCormick, Ed.D.
bradmcc@cloud9.net [ Email me! ]
29 March 2008CE (2008-03-28 ISO 8601)
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