Hawthorne, Simmel, and Skepticism

“A large number of passengers were already at the station-house awaiting the departure of the cars. By the aspect and demeanor of these persons it was easy to judge that the feelings of the community had undergone a very favorable change in reference to the celestial pilgrimage. It would have done Bunyan’s heart good to see it.”

A nonconfrontational strategy for social change

If we want to heal the world, we might look for an effective treatment or therapy. In this context, Roth contrasts solution-focused and problem-focused therapies. A problem-focused therapy, which is the traditional approach, seeks greater understanding of the problem—the diagnosed condition. But greater understanding or insight doesn’t necessarily alleviate the pain or save the patient.

Hedda Gabler and the specialist

The only way to manage the explosion of knowledge in 18th-19th centuries was through specialization. In premodern Europe, the amateur or “gentleman scholar” could be respected. A person of wide learning who studies for the pleasure it, not as a profession, would be much sought after in upper class society, which is the world Hedda Gabbler is accustomed to and wants to return to. When she can’t find it–and other characters’ desires start closing in on her–she shoots herself.

1 2 3 4 6