M. STEVEN NEAL
"My Job Was Basic"
A young woman, Lina Fitzhugh, seeks relief and catharsis in the aftermath of her divorce in south-central Texas. As she recollects the day that she meets her husband, she reveals the significance of her first employer, a restaurant that not only fails to recognize the abuse that she endures as a waitperson but comes to represent, for Lina, her overlooked and life-long struggle with mental health.
"Ben Jonson's The Alchemist: Shaping Behavior in the Shadow of the Apocalypse"
As portrayed in The Alchemist, Ben Jonson’s London grappled with the challenges of a burgeoning urban life and its effects on morality and consumption. While using his authorship as lectern was not unique, Jonson’s message, that the order of improving one’s status stood to be perverted, was; and in featuring the local preoccupation with alchemy and the apocalypse, he revealed the corrupt and toxic relationship between the city’s economic and religious zeal. Martin Luther’s sixteenth century idea of a new religion called for man’s return to his covenant with God and to simple faith. By Jonson’s time however, London faced an additional battle from within, as extreme religion gained ground. Because the play was coterminous with Jonson’s audience’s lives, they were well-aware that pure-Protestants provoked anxieties to gather believers. In straining to escape their present and to a future marked by heavenly expectations, Jonson’s characters evoked his contemporaries’ desires to address their own exigencies. By capturing his audience’s attention referencing popular current events, Jonson created a stage for his greater concern, that faith in economic as well as religious transcendence exposed his milieu to divisive radicalism and victimization.
M. STEVEN NEAL
M. Steven Neal is an author of fiction and literary criticism residing in Brooklyn, NY.
Genres: Literary Fiction, Criticism; Subjects: Religion. Capitalism; Influences: Anna Burns. Peter Carey. David Foster Wallace. Charles Yu.