Thursday, January 13, 2011
Jill Lepore, “The Commandments: The Constitution and Its Worshippers,” New Yorker, January 17, 2011, pp.70-76, provides an interesting examination of how a particular document has taken on symbolic significance in contemporary political debates. Citing evidence about how few Americans have read this document or possess any idea of what is in it [even though it is only 4400 words long], Lepore acknowledges that “Ye olde parchment serves as shorthand for everything old, real, durable, American, and true – a talisman held up against the uncertainties and abstractions of a meaningless, changeable, paperless age” (p. 72). She discusses the Constitution’s history as an archival artifact, how it been used and abused in debates, and how it often frames or shapes political discourse.
Posted by Richard J. Cox at 2:51 PM