Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Idaho occluded

    Even if as today the way north
    Is impeded leaving me fretting
    Over a broken dryer and choked
    Stove; even if the horizon has
    Dwindled, sliding me backward and
    Sapping my will; and even if Pound
    Once left Idaho with more force

    Than I have used getting there;  
    It will be hot again today,
    Jessica will be five months
    Old and the heat will discourage
    Idlers from living on the river,
    Cause rabbits to hide and coyotes
    To walk about on spindly legs.

    Mbah Gotho is living at one
    Hundred and forty five while I’ve
    Been seeking a better place to die.
    When asked his explanation, he
    Said “patience.” I’ve trouble
    Sitting still for the briefest while
    And sleep is often beyond me.

    So what if one day the
    Sky should break its reticence
    And rain?  Would all these
    Intentions be washed away,
    The mountain lake dreams,
    The moose and elk, the brown
    Bear and inquisitive wolf?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Hannah Arendt's Reflections on Violence

In the July 11, 2013 issue of the NYROB is an excerpt from Hannah Arendt's "Reflections on Violence," published in its entirety in in the February 27, 1969 issue of the NYROB and can be found here:  http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1969/02/27/a-special-supplement-reflections-on-violence/

I'm sure I'm not alone in mistrusting bureaucracies.  My most recent hatred was directed against the medical profession during Susan's decline and death of a year ago.  Hannah Arendt in the July 11, 2013 excerpt does found her dislike on theory.  I imagine you can find the following in the 1969 article if you search it.  These are the passages I found most interesting:

"Finally, the greater the bureaucratization of public life, the greater will be the attraction of violence.  In a fully developed bureaucracy there is nobody left with whom one could argue, to whom one could present grievances, on whom the pressures of power could be exerted.  Bureaucracy is the form of government in which everybody is deprived of political freedom, of the power to act; for the rule by Nobody is not no-rule, and where all are equally powerless we have a tyranny without a tyrant."


"For progress, as we have come to understand it, means growth, the relentless process of more and more, of bigger and bigger.  The bigger a country becomes in population, in objects, and in possessions, the greater will be the need for administration and with it, the anonymous power of the administrators."


"For the disintegration processes, which have become so manifest in recent years -- the decay of many public services, or schools and police, or mail delivery and transportation, the death rate on the highways and the traffic problems in the cities -- concern everything designed to serve mass society.  Bigness is afflicted with vulnerability, and while no one can say with assurance where and when the breaking point has been reached, we can observe, almost to the point of measuring it, how strength and resiliency are insidiously destroyed, leaking, as it were, drop by drop from out institutions.  And the same, I think, is true for the various party systems -- the one-party dictatorships in the East as well as the two-party systems in England and the United States, or the multiple party systems in Europe -- all  of which were supposed to serve the political needs of modern mass societies, to make representative government possible where direct democracy would not do because 'the room will not hold all' (John Selden)."

and finally,

"Again, we do not know where these developments will lead us, but we can see how cracks in the power structure of all but the small countries are opening and widening.  And we know, or should know, that every decrease of power is an open invitation to violence -- if only because those who hold power and feel it slipping from their hands have always found it difficult to resist the temptation of substituting violence for it."

Comment:  I have mistrusted the EU but without having a very good reason, perhaps nothing more than having lived long enough to see what seems to be the accomplishment of one of Germany's long-standing (military) goals by peaceful means.  But the cracks Arendt referred to have been appearing.  Administrative decisions have not all been well received by the individual nations.  I thought Britain moving in a wise direction with Brexit.  I have been inclined to credit the EU's immigration policies for the violence in Europe, but I can see Arendt's explanation for it as well; although I don't see the Islamist's' goal as being more political representation.  Her explanation is more suited to the resistance of individual EU nations to the EU's administrative policies on various matters.

Popper seen through the eyes of McGinn

From the 11-21-02 issue of the NYROB I read Colin McGinn's review of four books by and about Karl Popper.  The entire review isn't available on line, only the beginning, but you can at least see the books reviewed: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2002/11/21/looking-for-a-black-swan/

I found the review interesting but McGinn was coming across as an authority and I had never heard of him so I decided to see who he was.  I was shocked to find that he was forced out of his job at the University of Miami because of a sexual harassment charge.  In true Lit-Ideas fashion I went off on a tangent and read several articles about the charges against him.  Here is one of them:


Though McGinn professes his innocence, I tend to think from what I've read that he behaved badly against Clair, but I advance this as only a tentative hypothesis and if anyone chooses to falsify it I shall of course not object.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Weinberg's Final Theory

In the June 10, 2010 edition of the NYROB is a review of Lake Views: This World and the Universe by Steven Weinberg.  The reviewer is Freeman Dyson.  After reviewing the subject book, Dyson writes,

"I find it ironic that Weinberg, after declaring so vehemently his hostility to religious beliefs, emerges in his writing about science as a man of faith.  He believes passionately in the possibility of a Final Theory.  He wrote a book with the title Dreams of a Final Theory, and the notion of a Final Theory permeates his thinking in this book too.  A Final Theory means a set of mathematical rules that describe with complete generality and complete precision the way the physical universe behaves.  Complete generality means that the rules are obeyed everywhere and at all times.  Complete precision means that any discrepancies between the rules and the results of experimental measurements will be due to the limited accuracy of the measurements.

"For Weinberg, the Final Theory is not merely a dream to inspire his brilliant work as a mathematical physicist exploring the universe.  For him it is an already existing reality that we humans will soon discover.  It is a real presence hidden in the motions of atoms and galaxies, waiting for us to find it.  The faith that a Final Theory exists, ruling over the operations of nature, strongly influences his thinking about history and ethics as well as his thinking about science.

"I have profound respect for Steven Weinberg as a scientist.  I also have profound respect for his faith, although I do not share it.  I accept the possibility that he may be right and I may be wrong.  I do not forget the disagreement we had forty-four years about about a hypothetical partial called the W.  The letter W does not stand for Weinberg, but it was Weinberg who imagined it before it was discovered.  Weinberg believed that the W must exist, because he needed it as an essential component of the theory with which he triumphantly unified the weak forces in nature.  I believed that the Would not exist because its existence would contradict a mathematical argument that I held dear.  His belief was based on physical intuition.  Mine on mathematical calculation.

"It soon turned out that he was right and I was wrong.  First, his theory of unification was confirmed by a number of experiments, and a few years later the W particle was directly observed.  My mathematical argument turned out to be irrelevant and misleading.  I was happy to celebrate Weinberg's triumph, and consoled myself with a quotation from my favorite poet, William Blake: 'To be in Error and to be Cast Out is Part of God's design.'  Black had an other piece of wisdom, 'Opposition is true Friendship,' which made it easy for us to remain friends  As members of the scientific community, we can disagree passionately about the facts and theories and still be friends.

"Since Weinberg was right about the W particle, why do I not believe that he is right about the Final Theory?  I distrust his judgment about philosophical questions because I think he over-rates the capacity of the human mind to comprehend the totality of nature.  He has spent his professional life within the discipline of mathematical physics, a narrow area of science that has been uniquely successful.  In this narrow area, our theories describe a small part of nature with astonishing clarity.  Our ape-brains and tool-making hands were marvelously effective for solving a limited class of puzzles.  Weinberg expects the same brains and hands to illuminate far broad areas of nature with the same clarity.  I would be disappointed if nature could be so easily tamed.  I find the idea of a Final Theory repugnant because it diminishes both the richness of nature and the richness of human destiny.  I prefer to live in a universe full of inexhaustible mysteries, and to belong to a species destined for inexhaustible intellectual growth."

On the Other Hand:  Another theory that is not accepted (as Dyson does not accept Weinberg's), is that the human brain is no longer an "ape-brain."  Human evolution has not stopped, and while there is no physical evidence to show the difference between earlier versions of the human brain, there is objective evidence (if one is willing to accept it) that the modern brain (in some of us) has been responsible for achievements far beyond the capability of the ape-brain.  And if Dyson's main argument is that we have the same brain as the ape and the modern evolutionary studies (eventually) prove him to be wrong, then perhaps he is also wrong about the Final Theory as well.

May 2015:  Steven Weinberg "still dreams of a Final Theory" . . . but probably not in this century.  http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/nobel-laureate-steven-weinberg-still-dreams-of-final-theory/

Saturday, August 20, 2016

On Saturn’s Moon


    We were partners back on
    Saturn’s moon, nothing would
    Ever change that but she hung
    Back as I went on.  I slowed
    Watching an old style pumping
    Unit wheeze, cranking up
    And down, turning the days

    To nights.  I had no right to
    Expect she’d reach the same
    Conclusion.  The cranking
    Went on, wearing her down.
    She could no longer be as
    She was before.  I shipped
    In all we had, and all we

    Needed came with
    The next consignment
    From earth, but by that 
    Time there was only the
    Pumping and the wind
    Nudging something lonely
    Pleading with the night.


The Swing

    There was a moment during
    My first year here when I felt
    Her hair against my cheek.  I
    Whirled in search knowing
    She was still back there and
    I was where I’d signed on to
    Be feeling here her loss again.
    When she said she’d chosen
    To stay, they predicted I’d
    Have these moments, the
    Dizziness, the shadows
    Flickering as though fire
    Burned near and she stood
    In it watching.  I dreamed

    Of another choice with
    Her watching as she
    Once did.  There was a
    Swing that would creak with
    Each push I’d give her or
    She’d give me on days like
    This that is creaking still.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Urgent to Mars

    The message marked “urgent”
    Came yesterday.  So much though
    Was blanked.  Perhaps interfered
    With by a solar flare.  This was
    Likely for why would they not
    Want us to know what was burning?
    Our digital cameras picked up what

    They could, heat signatures around
    The globe.  We studied the photos
    With care.  Most of the earth
    Seemed aflame.  Most of us here
    Thought their Global Warming
    Had at last managed combustion.
    But what could we do?  The

    “Urgent” disturbed us.  We read
    The words again and again,
    Without context, without sense:
    “End, unless, further, along
    Too late to, can’t leave it” and
    “End.”  Our queries were all
    Returned marked “unknown.”

    We will of course try again
    For as long as it takes, but any
    Urgency is there and not here.
    Our ability to achieve planetary
    Escape would be years away and
    Such an endeavor won’t be pursued.
    Our own needs are still water and air.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mars on a cold morning

    The winds, all of them swirl
    Confused, having been made
    Here years ago but never given
    Direction; “direction to follow,”
    Was in the manual, but
    Year after year winds stir
    The “earth” (can’t seem to

    Call it Mars) putting it all
    Back as it was.  Looking
    Down, the vultures don’t
    Mind, lurking up there, wings
    Tucked, folded just so to see
    Whatever’s down here dead.
    These birds taking best to our

    New home.  Lesser birds are
    Now all gone as are the sheep
    And cattle.  Goats, llamas and
    Camels are still here in small
    numbers and can be seen if one
    Has the vantage and a good
    Scope.  We don’t hope for much

    Cut off and discontinued. I saw
    A great eagle, rare now, higher
    Than the vultures fly, seeming
    To dream rather than hunt.
    We are a trifle, too small an
    Enclave to come fetch; not
    Exciting enough to come see.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

H. L. Mencken's Prejudices

My son who is taking responsibility for moving me to Idaho next April has been on me about getting rid of books.  He hates moving boxes of books, and in truth I have had a great number that in all honesty I'll either never read again or never read in the first place.  In addition I have copies of the New York Review of Books almost all the way back to the beginning.  I've also been saving copies of the London Review of Books for several years.  So for the better part of a week I've been going through old copies of the NYROB the LROB and as it turns out getting rid of few copies but finding a great number of books that may be just the thing to read on Sandpoint's cold winter nights or days when we're snowed in.  Just this morning I ordered the two volume (1,200 page) Library of America edition of Prejudices by H. L. Mencken.  Mencken for any one two young to have read him, lived from September 12, 1880 to January 29, 1956.

The reviewer (from the 11-11-10 issue of the NYROB), Russell Baker, at one point touches on something (at least that is what it seems to me) we discussed not so long ago about thinking (or not thinking) in words. "He had always written, he said, simply to find out what he was thinking.  Those who assumed that he had 'some deep-lying reformatory purpose' were wrong:  'My one purpose in writing I have explained over and over again: it is simply to provide a kind of katharsis for my own thoughts.  They worry me until they are set forth in words.  This may be a kind of insanity, but at all events it is free of moral purpose.  I am never much interested in the effects of what I write."

Russell like most in the aforementioned discussion) finds it "hard to believe that the young Mencken who seemed capable of doing anything he wanted to, and exulted in the fun and mischief of it, wrote that carefully phrased and painstakingly self-edited prose merely to discover what he had in mind."

I on the other hand find no difficulty in Mencken's process.  While he doesn't admit to 'thinking in words,' his process is very like my own process for writing poetry. I don't have a full-blown poem in mind, just the inkling of one and need to begin writing both to get the worrying (which is as good a description as any) resolved and to write the poem itself, if there is one.   Now as to the editing, I don't see why that troubles Russell.  The writing isn't there complete in Mencken's mind.  He has to think in words (I believe) as he writes and some revision may (will) be in order before he's done.  In my own case I "usually" go back over a poem and think about the individual words.  In a recent poem "The In and the Out of it" Mike Geary discovered a word that didn't ring true.  I read his objection late at night and admitted the word made no sense to me, but the next morning it did.  It did describe what I wanted to write but it wasn't the best word for the job, and it wasn't just the word.  I rephrased the area of the poem a bit.  Something like that would have gone on with Mencken's writing and wouldn't have all contradicted what he wrote about his worrying.

Not to leave this note on that issue, and though the original volumes sold in 2010 for $35, one can buy them used for much less than that on Amazon, here is Russell's inkling of what to expect in Prejudices:  "Of the presidents who held office int he early 1900s, only Theodore Roosevelt seems to have puzzled him.  He obviously viewed Harding and Coolidge as small-bore political hacks not worth full-force assaults.  Woodrow Wilson, however, was special.  Wilson he simply hated.

"'Wilson: the self-bamboozled Presbyterian, the right-thinker, the great moral statesman, the perfect model of a Christian cad,' he called him.  To Mencken, Wilson was a cold and treacherous moralizer, a sponsor of laws under which people were imprisoned for dissenting against American participation in World War I.  Wilson had won reelection in 1916 with a boast that he had kept the country out of war and, once the election was won, expeditiously took it into the war in alliance with England and France.  Mencken, a grandson of German immigrants, detested England and detested Wilson for taking the country into the war on England's side.   Why the United states was in the war on any side is not entirely clear even now; indeed, historians often have trouble explaining what the war itself was about.

"Mencken's interest in Theodore Roosevelt may have been rooted in aspects of the Roosevelt character that suggested a minor-league Kaiser.  The America of Roosevelt's dreams 'was always a sort of swollen Prussia, truculent without regimented within.'  Even his manner betrayed a touch of Kaiser-envy  'There was always the clank of the saber in his discourse; he could not discuss the tamest matter without swaggering in the best dragoon fashion,' Mencken wrote.

"He cited several other characteristics that Roosevelt and the Kaiser had in common: 'both dreamed of gigantic navies,' believed in keeping potential enemies intimidated by heavy armament, and constantly preached the citizen's duty to the state but soft-pedaled the state's duty to the citizen."  [One wonders what Mencken would have thought of John F. Kennedy's 1961 speech which included "ask not what you country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."]

"'Both delighted in the armed pursuit of the lower fauna.  Both heavily patronized the fine arts.  Both were intimates of God and announced His desires with authority.'  The Kaiser was probably the milder and more modest of the two, Mencken said.  In his training for exalted position he had cultivated 'a certain ingratiating suavity,' and so could be 'extremely polite to an opponent,' whereas Roosevelt, Mencken wrote, 'was never polite.'  'One always thinks of him as a glorified longshoreman engaged eternally in cleaning out bar-rooms -- and not too proud to gouge when the inspiration came to him, or to bite in the clinches, or to oppose the relatively fragile brass knuckles of the code with chair-legs, bung-starters, cuspidors, demijohns, and ice picks.'"

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Lost Light

    Scoffing at those who reveled
    In high-school feats year
    After year, I’ve always let
    That go, knowing we don’t
    Remember as they wish
    But should we?  I’ve run
    Ahead not looking back,

    Changing to being comfortable,
    Accumulating new concepts,
    Sweeping the old ones away.
    With her near me I’ve relished
    Year after year, planning our
    Way into great age.  To be
    Sure I’ve lost loved ones,
    Dogs die young.  I can’t recall
    Now which one lay where
    When we curled up on the
    Floor to sleep.  I snap awake,
    Shocked by darkness, unable
    To hear the sound of her
    Laughter, the look of her smile.

Saturday, August 13, 2016



    We shouldn’t hike today because
    Of the air – don’t breath it they
    Advised. The midday heat will
    Take its toll of the old and infirm. 
    I’ve queued up for a spot in the
    Far north hoping no one beats
    Me out – For now I creep about

    In the early hours.  A tattooed
    Hollow-eyed man blows something
    Up and stares at the remains frame
    After frame. Beneath the bridge
    Everyone acts his part.  Young
    Men stand in the shade, laughing,
    And singing life is funnier

    Than I think driving past.
    I don’t accept that, shaking
    My head at the raucous
    Laughter coming after
    Reaching down I turn
    On the AC, never having
    Learned to swear properly.

Dreaming it through to the end

    Time after time at the Somme
    I was missed narrowly, and joked
    I was impervious to shrapnel
    And machine-gun fire, but
    Later at Leningrad hemmed
    In by restrictions, the cold and
    Russian tanks I sank

    Beneath the frost and
    Dreamed nothing, nothing else
    Made sense.  I had climbed
    My way to this and wore
    My fingers raw drifting
    Past hunger and thirst, waking
    Only to fall asleep once again.

    Vehicles and armor improved,
    Rifles and ammo weighed less,
    But I was older and dreamed
    Of abdication.  Surely at my
    Age my feeble trigger finger
    Wouldn’t count for much.  I’ll
    Take my rifle as all good soldiers

    Must, but settle softly in some
    Tight leafy world and listen
    To my dogs bark at meadowlarks
    And watch eagles drift beneath
    White clouds like Messerschmidts
    Seeking targets
    On the ground.

The in and out of it


    If man is irredeemably destined
    To sin the same sins age after age,
    And if there is no progress, that
    Concept being abandoned after
    The Great War, is there at least
    A happy isle, some place in
    Which one drinks and drowses

    And dreams some glorious dream?
    Or if not, then some duty that brings
    A comforting satisfaction?  And if
    That satisfaction lasts at least
    A day, may we wake the next
    Having dreamed of someone
    Who entered into our seeking,

    Our walking on hills with
    Her into pathways as
    Long as the dream, and
    Then if I look next and she
    Begins to fade, no longer
    Able to walk or sing, she’ll
    Still believe everything she
    Learned as a child ages ago.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Is "everyone a poet"?

"Everyone is a poet" someone recently and remarked, and that is certainly true in a broad sense.   A young man with no poetic talent will (while young) write "poems" to his beloved.  He feels that what he feels deserves more than prose and so he writes a poem and if his beloved is properly appreciative who is to say he failed? 

In the past century and still in this one to become a "poet" involves becoming accepted by on or more of the Mandarins who control the poetry magazines, but in China where some of the best poetry of the past was written during a time when "everyone was a poet" -- at least in court where everyone could read and write, one simply wrote for a friends. 

There was a review of a new book on Pound in the NYROB or the LROB in which the reviewer said that Pound's translations of Chinese poetry in Cathay were the best by anyone ever.  I don't have the entire Cathay but I have a few of them in The Library of America's Ezra Pound, Poems and Translations.  They are good, maybe better than Pound's original poetry, but do they deserve the reviewer's superlative?

Then in Hew Strachan's The First World War, he wrote of Wilfred Owen who was killed in action 4 November 1918, "The war both did for Owen and made him.  He returned to the front line when he could probably have avoided doing so, telling his mentor, Siegfried Sassoon, 'Serenity Shelley never dreamed of crowns me'.  The war gave him the material which transformed him into one of the greatest English poets of the twentieth century."  I always like Owen but whenever I had read about him it was as a poet with great potential who was cut down before being able to achieve it.  Is Strachan right?  Did Owen achieve his potential because the war enabled him to do so?  I looked for my copy of Owen's poetry but couldn't find it.  I tend to think that Owen was not great -- on the other hand Strachan might still be right.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Lerner's biography of Kantorowicz

One can order Ernst Kantorowicz: A Life Hardcover, to be published December 27, 2016
by Robert E. Lerner for $39.95 (prime).  If the price drops at the time of publication you will be charged that price.  You can find it at, https://www.amazon.com/Ernst-Kantorowicz-Robert-E-Lerner/dp/069117282X/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470600017&sr=1-3&keywords=ernst+kantorowicz

I have been rereading Norman Cantor’s Inventing the Middle Ages, The Lives, Works and Ideas of the Great Medievalists of the Twentieth Century, published in 1993.   I read this in 1993 and again in 1999.

Cantor’s biographical sketches of Percy Ernst Schramm and Ernst Hartwig Kantorowicz take up 39 pages.   I was struck each time I read this chapter by how mildly Cantor handles Kantorowicz a Jewish academic, one of the remarkable historians that Cantor praises, who was caught up in the great-man quest much as Heidegger was.   Cantor, however has his critics.  The main argument of one criticism I read is that Cantor is not well liked by other historians.  Another listed several things Cantor left out of his 39-page biographical sketch Schramm and Kantorowicz as evidence that he was prejudiced against Kantorowicz.

Cantor writes on page 82, “Schramm and Kantorowicz reinforced and encouraged each other.  Both worked in the tradition of German Geistesgeschichte – ‘spiritual’ (cultural and intellectual) history, drawing upon the long tradition of Hegelian idealism in German humanistic circles. But both wanted to put original twists on the old Geistesgeschichte.  The word Geistesgeschichte has no equivalent term in English.  It stands for the dominant tradition in the learned humanities in Germany from the 1890s until 1933. It means placing in one’s foreground past ideas, theory, and literary and visual arts and making these spiritual and intellectual refinements, rather than material and social forces, the central concern of the historian.  Geistesgeschichte is a manifestation of German philosophical idealism and the assumption that ideas and learned traditions that perpetuate ideas have a durable reality and a human value separate from any other aspect of society. . . .”

“The Stefan George circle in which Kantorowicz had moved along with some of his high aristocratic friends was much tighter than Schramm’s networks and went beyond vanguard learning.  George was a flamboyant lyric poet and visionary, who gathered around him a group of rich, well-educated young men (the homosexual tone, whether latent or explicit, was up-front) to cultivate German national traditions and explore high horizons of culture and political revival through great leadership.  The leadership principle was strongly prevalent with George and his disciples. This was one of the intellectual foundations of nazism, although the George circle, several members were Jewish, would not in the end be satisfied with the vulgar corporal from Vienna.  They were thinking of apocalyptic figures like the great Staufen emperors of medieval Germany.  Along with poetry, the George group went in for the writing of romanticized biographies to put models of charismatic leadership before the beaten, confused, and impoverished postwar German people so that the Volk would rise again under some Nietzschean and Wagnerian heroic figure.
    “This is how Kantorowicz came to be in Heidelberg.  He was assigned by George to write the biography of the most apocalyptic of medieval German figures, Emperor Frederick II.  He was doing it to satisfy his master, George, and to stir the German people to national renewal under some new wonder of the world.  This project was sentimental, trendy, even a little idiosyncratic, but not ridiculous or useless in the German ambience of the 1920s.
    “George’s message was an amalgam of Greek classicism and pristine Germanic heroism: ‘A people is dead when its gods are dead.’  Out of the materialism, corruption and disorder of the Weimar era a ‘Secret Germany’ of cultured supermen will emerge and take over power from the unaware lumpen masses, George proclaimed. . .
    “Whatever we may think of this is colored for us by what happened in the 1930s.  Whether the triumph of nazism was a fulfillment of George’s vision or a grotesque perversion and betrayal of it has been debated since the thirties, and there is no resolution to this issue.  To the young Kantorowicz, George was the guru who saw the truth and foretold the future.  If George wanted a biography of Frederick II as part of his visionary program of German renewal, Kantorowicz would do what he was told and produce it and write it in accordance with the leadership principle and the late romantic excitement that George generated.
    “What is important for medieval studies is that Kantorowicz read all the voluminous published sources of Frederick II, mastered all the modern literature on the Staufen dynasty, and used modern scholarly research on the medieval empire and papacy. He applied his incredible linguistic ability and his deep knowledge of the Middle East and the Orient to put some new angles into the old Staufen story.  He then wrote the most exciting biography of a medieval monarch produced in this century.  It has aged very well.  It still has power to stimulate the mind and stir the blood Its learning and insight are phenomenal. . . .”

Kantorowicz strikes me as an interesting fellow, but I’m going to hold off ordering Lerner’s biography.  I found a short biography of Lerner saying he studied under Strayer, and Cantor was much more critical of Strayer than he was Kantorowicz, imo.