morning reading and thoughts

Over the years, I keep running across Gilbert Murray as a writer who informs my ideas.

I picked up his The Rise of the Greek Epic this morning and read the preface to the second edition.

Ed Friedman (of the fam system fame) derived his notion and title Failure of Nerve from Murray’s Five Stages of Greek Religion.

I think that I already had read some in Murray before reading Friedman, but F’s use of Murray solidified an interest of mine.

Several of Murray’s books including Five Stages are available free at as ebooks.

Before reading in Murray this morning, I read an interesting poem by William Carlos Williams, “The Death of Franco of Cologne: His Prophecy of Beethoven.”

Franco of Cologne lived in the 13th century and was an important musical theorist.

His big contribution was that musical notation should notate duration.

Before that rhythms and note lengths were subject to applying certain patterns that varied according to applications called Rhythmic modes.

I spent a good deal of my Medieval Music class in grad school working these out.

Anyway, Williams’ poem reminded me of Browning.

Robert Browning, English poet, 1812-1889

It’s an early work of his.

Then I turned to Bacevich and found this enlightening paragraph which synposizing America’s change from an “Empire of Production” to an “Empire of Consumption.”

Bacevich gives Maier (another guy I’m reading) credit for these notions, but I like the way he puts it.

“In the 1960s, however, the empire of production began to come undone. Within another twenty years—thanks to permanently negative trade balances,

a crushing defeat in Vietnam,

oil shocks,


and the shredding of a moral consensus that could not withstand the successive assaults of Elvis Presley,

‘the pill,’

and the counterculture,

along with news reports that God had died—

it [the Empire of Production]had become defunct. In its place, according to Maier,there emerged a new ‘Empire of Consumption.’ Just as the lunch-bucket toting factory worker had symbolized the empire of production during its heyday,

the teenager, daddy’s credit card in her blue jeans and headed to the mall, now emerged as the empire of consumption’s emblematic figure.

The evil genius of production was Henry Ford.

In the empire of consumption, Ford’s counterpart was Walt Disney.”

Andrew Bacevich, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, p. 29 (pictures added, of course)


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