No one like her

Camille Paglia draws an unusual analogy from Marie Antoinette:

Has representative democracy, paralyzed by rancorous partisanship and bureaucratic incompetence, become the waning ancien rĂ©gime assailed by hordes at the gates? There is an uneasy sense of siege in Europe and the United States from restive immigrant minorities who have taken to the streets or bred saboteurs. The intelligentsia seem fatigued, sapped by pointless theory, and impotent to affect events. Fervor has shifted to religious fundamentalists in both Christianity and Islam. Materialism and status anxiety (evident even in higher education, with its brand-name snobbery) have come to the fore in the glitteringly high-tech West. Yet the turbulent third world offers agonizingly stark contrasts. The Marie Antoinette story, with its premonitions of doom amid a giddy fatalism, seems to signal a pervasive guilt about near-intractable social inequities….

The return of Marie Antoinette suggests that there are political forces at work in the world that Western humanism does not fully understand and that it may not be able to control.

I find it interesting that La Paglia should reach a conclusion regarding representative democracy not dissimilar to my own, but from such a very different inspiration.

The Orange and the Blue crack TMQ

Obscure College Score of the Week: Bucknell 20, Cornell 5. The Big Red faithful lament — if only we’d gotten eight more safeties! Located in Lewisburg, Pa., Bucknell is too renown to qualify as an obscure college. But the school has a little-known quality as regards modern sports: It both plays Division I and graduates its athletes. Bucknell sent its men’s basketball team to the NCAA tournament last March, where the Bison were the sole tourney college that had graduated all scholarship athletes in the most recent NCAA ranking. Bucknell won the clever athletics-and-academics bracket recently assembled by Inside Higher Education. Bucknell’s Sean Conover, a rookie defensive end on the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad, was busy last spring because before reporting to the Titans he put on a funny-looking gown and graduated. Bucknell often leads Division I schools in athletes’ graduation rates, and is fourth all time in total Academic All-American honors dispensed by ESPN The Magazine. Attention other universities — it is not impossible to have major sports programs that graduate their athletes, you just have to care about education.

Their recent March Madness runs notwithstanding, I haven’t been this proud of my alma mater since Big Chilly called to tell me the town had to call in two busloads of riot police to deal with House Party.