Quotes from Michael Walzer and Harold Bloom

At the very center of conservative thought lies this idea: that the present division of wealth and power corresponds to some deeper reality of human life. …They want to say that whatever the division of wealth and power is, it naturally is, and that all efforts to change it, temporarily successful in proportion to their bloodiness, must be futile in the end.

Michael Walzer
–“In Defense of Equality” in Howe, ed., 25 Years of Dissent

For why do men write poems? To rally everything that remains.

Shelly speculated that poets of all ages contributed to one Great Poem perpetually in progress.

In the contemporary poems that most move me…I can recognize a strength that battles against the death of poetry, yet also the exhaustions of being a latecomer.

Freud recognized sublimation as the highest human achievement, a recognition that allies him to both Plato and to the entire moral traditions of both Judaism and Christianity. Freudian sublimation involves the yielding-up of more primordial for more refined modes of pleasure, which is to exalt the second chance above the first. …To equate emotional maturation with the discovery of acceptable substitutes may be pragmatic wisdom, especially in the realm of Eros, but this is not the wisdom of the strong poets. The surrendered dream is not merely a phantasmagoria of endless gratification, but is the greatest of all human illusions, the vision of immortality.

Poetic history, in this book’s argument, is held to be indistinguishable from poetic influence, since strong poets make that history by misreading one another, so as to clear imaginative space for themselves.

More than any other purely secular author, Shakespeare makes history more than history makes Shakespeare.

A good biography of Shakespeare, like Russell Fraser’s, is preferable to any historicism, because at least we are alone with Shakespeare and Fraser, rather than being propagandized by an academic sect or coven.

Shakespeare’s energies so fuse rhetoric, psychology, and cosmology that we cannot distinguish them from one another in his greatest plays.

Harold Bloom
The Anxiety of Influence

Ryan McCarl
Attorney | Writer | Educator