Dialogue 35 (2):343-358 (1996)

Social and political topics of public concern shift and reconfigure themselves with volatility as well as speed in contemporary life. Issues ignite and arouse constituencies of response, in alliance and opposition, with a quite uncertain degree of predictability, even if with periodicities and a detectable routing circuitry about which it is easy to become cynical, or at least fatigued. Something burns, now, among us; and we would prefer not to think much about the fact that it, or a close relative, burned a year and a half before—sometimes even more recently—in other places more plausibly a fountain and fundament of currents of Western cultural life. The issues must feel real; they must be seen as urgent, abstract matters of right and wrong, shocking disclosure, heroic resistance, without reference to anywhere else than here and anyone else but us.
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DOI 10.1017/s0012217300008398
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