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As we approach the new millenium, the moral, intellectual,and spiritual crisis of our time is visible most plainly in the sickness of the arts. The "postmodern" cultural establishment is philosophically empty and esthetically corrupt. But no one has been able to explain this decline or give a satisfying answer to the question of the proper role of the arts in our society. Now, in The Culture of Hope -- a manifesto for a new vision of culture that is both radical and classical -- Frederick Turner goes beyond the stale dichotomies of Left and Right to take the "third side" in the culture war: the side of art itself. Great art can never be politically correct, Turner reminds us, whether the correction comes from Right or Left, because its sources are deeper than politics. The visionary modernists (Picasso, Joyce, Stravinsky) understood this, but their successors today, as well as their conservative opponents, have forgotten. Turner sharply indicts the bankrupt tribe of venal mediocrities who now infest the arts, citing their naive rejection of morality, their ignorant denial of scientific truth, and their lazy dismissal of the Western cultural heritage. On the other hand, conservatives who call for a return to traditional values seek a socially "safe" vision of art that has never existed and never can. In the past, the arts have flowered when they drew their inspiration from new scientific visions of the cosmos. Thus Turner argues that the revolution in cosmology that is occurring today in the frontier fields of scientific thought will powerfully invigorate the artists of the future. A new esthetic synthesis arising from the unexpected convergence of religion, art, and science will restore a hopeful vision of the cosmos as intelligent, creative, and self-ordering and provide the missing ground for the recovery of classical values in the arts, such as beauty, order, harmony, and meaning. Turner points to new developments in chaos theory, neurobiology, evolution, and environmental science, among other fields, to offer us a guide to the emerging art of the "radical center" which he predicts will shape the culture of the future.
A faded newspaperman downs a double Maker's Mark and contemplates life as a "ham-and-egger," a hack. Then one day he finds the scoop of a lifetime in a Chicago basement: diaries belonging to the infamous Judith Campbell Exner. Right, that Judy, the game girl who waltzed into the midst of America's most powerful politicians, entertainers, and criminals as they conspired to rule America. When Frank Sinatra flew Judy to Hawaii for a weekend of partying, she could hardly have imagined where it would lead her: straight to the White House and the waiting arms of Jack Kennedy. And then came the day that JFK and his brother Bobby asked her to carry a black bag to Chicago, where she was to hand it off to the boss of bosses, Sam Giancana. As our Narrator pieces the notebooks into a coherent story, he finds mob connections, rigged primaries, assassination plots, and trysts--and begins to see beyond the tabloid fare to a real woman, adrift and defenseless in a dangerous world where the fates of nations are at stake. As one by one the men Judy loved betrayed her and disappeared, and as the FBI pursued her into a living hell, her diary entries disintegrate along with the beautiful, tough, sweet woman the Narrator has come to know. Who was Exner, after all? Just a gangster's moll? Or a bighearted woman who believed the sky-high promises of the New Frontier--and paid the price?
Though branded as pornography for its graphic language and explicit sexuality, Henry Miller'sTropic of Canceris far more than a work that tested American censorship laws. In this riveting book, published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary ofTropic of Cancer's initial U. S. release, Frederick Turner investigates Miller's unconventional novel, its tumultuous publishing history, and its unique place in American letters. Written in the slums of a foreign city by a man who was an utter literary failure in his homeland,Tropic of Cancerwas published in 1934 by a pornographer in Paris, but soon banned in the United States. Not until 1961, when Grove Press triumphed over the censors, did Miller's book appear in American bookstores. Turner argues thatTropic of Canceris "lawless, violent, colorful, misogynistic, anarchical, bigoted, and shaped by the same forces that shaped the nation. " Further, the novel draws on more than two centuries of New World history, folklore, and popular culture in ways never attempted before. How Henry Miller, outcast and renegade, came to understand what literary dynamite he had within him, how he learned to sound his "war whoop" over the roofs of the world, is the subject of Turner's revelatory study.
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