What Happened to Our Smart Jewish Kids? A Note On Cynicism in Philip Roth’s “American Pastoral”

When Swede, the main character of Philip Roth’s American Pastoral, finally makes contact with his daughter Merry – who, as I have pointed out in other blog entries, became a domestic terrorist – he has a few moments of reflection on what “happened to our smart Jewish kids?” Swede’s reflections are worth recounting since they show […]

Trust Issues: Cynicism, Post-Nationalism, and Captain America

Politics and theater go hand-in-hand. One doesn’t have to be an intellectual to know that politicians use words and gestures to gain attention, garner support, or justify this or that agenda. It’s obvious to anyone that the media, film, and the internet can affect this or that political agenda. Within a few hours, a political […]

(Not) Beyond Good and Evil: Will Herberg on Utopianism, Cynicism, and the Jewish Ethic

Will Herberg is a Jewish-American Theologian who is most noted for his book, published in 1955,  Protestant, Catholic, Jew: An Essay in American Religious Sociology.   His characterizations of American religious pluralism may be a little dated, but it is still discussed by scholars today.  But his first book, Judaism and Modern Man: An Interpretation of […]

Zizek’s Comic Dilemma: Kynicism or Cynicism?

I ended yesterday’s blog with a reflection on President Obama’s last words on trust and cynicism. Here are the President’s last words: And so, these men and women should inspire all of us in this room to live up to those same standards; to be worthy of their trust; to do our jobs with the […]

A Shtreimel in the Mud: The Schlemiel, the Mensch & Freud’s Male Fantasies

Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche are often seen by academics as figures of modernity. Their thoughts and writings have touched countless scholars who have seen the Modern world through their lenses. One can also read the schlemiel and this characters Jewishness through them, even if it is – as is the case with all of them […]