The Jamesian Despair of Foxy Knoxy
Henry James knew a bit about Americans abroad, and he put it like this: It's a complex fate, being an American, and one of the responsibilities it entails is fighting against a superstitious valuation of Europe. And yet: one must also consider the "superstitious valuation" of America—and Americans—by Europeans. Even in this age of new hope for the American brand, one case study in How They See Us might be the trial of young American Amanda Knox, now finally come to conclusion tonight with a verdict: guilty.
"Who is Amanda?" Guare asked in the article. "Is she Henry James's 'Daisy Miller,' the archetypal American girl in Europe who comes to a disastrous end? Is she Dorothy swept up into an evil Oz?"
Now that the verdict has come down, we may have an answer: the former. She's not Dorothy. She knew where she was. It was not Oz. The bones of her story are uniquely compelling for their novelistic frame, and so perhaps it is no accident that the world has been watching. Knox's time in Europe began as an innocent story, evolved into Love, and ended as a devastating horror-show.
Whatever the real facts in the case (Knox has been known in the British press as "Foxy Knoxy," as she is at once uniquely beautiful and seductive) the story of what transpired during her year in Italy is as dark as it gets when it comes to the Jamesian archetype of an American in Europe. We concede certain facts: there was sex. There was murder. There was the element of race. Yet questions remain: who was where when, etc.
Italian society was captivated by this young girl, as was, more broadly, the international media. Did they want to indict her? Over time, increasingly, she became a villain, a seductress.
The idea of a young American girl caught up in the (perhaps vastly beyond the scope of her comprehending) sophistication of Europe has a rather-cliche-yet-still-notable literary precedent. If you're not keen on James, consider Patricia Highsmith, whose The Talented Mr. Ripley was another variation on this theme. The idea was always: the innocent American is seduced by the more complex European. Knox turns this on its head, as—if we believe what we know from the press so far—she seemed to drive the narrative of her own life into greater depth, and she took the Europeans she met (including her beau) along for the ride.
No one knows what happened. Let's wait for John Guare's (inevitably brilliant) re-telling. Let us hope Guare will do for Knox what he did in his play Six Degrees of Separation, also inspired by a piece in the news: force us to consider something at once apparently close-to-home and psychopathic—and in doing so, remember that we are all engaged in the game of moral subjectivity. Novelists know it well.
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It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?
- Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
- Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
- Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.
It's not just a case of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
- A new study suggests children who endure trauma grow up to be adults with more empathy than others.
- The effect is not universal, however. Only one kind of empathy was greatly effected.
- The study may lead to further investigations into how people cope with trauma and lead to new ways to help victims bounce back.
Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
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