Monthly Archives: June 2013

New Takes in Old Damascus 1982

We have crossed in from the Mediterranean at Latakia, taken a wide arcing turn south and are now slowly descending over the tan steppe into mankind’s favorite oasis. And at what appear to be an hour before schedule, if schedule is the proper word for anything gliding, tumbling, stumbling or crawling into the Syrian Arab […]

A Different League 1957

Princeton looks like no university made by human hands. It has the flashy Technicolor perfection of an old Hollywood back lot or the backdrop for a Vogue layout designed to show off chesterfield coats or dazzling women in expensive clothes. That was in fact the first thing I saw when I put my inelegant Thom […]

Coming Out 1954

When I entered the Society of Jesus, I was instructed that I had left the World, a fearful place that seemed far more sinful when viewed from inside a Jesuit seminary than from anywhere in New York City, which was, on one calculation, the very omphalos of the World. And that’s where I once again […]

Old Boys, New Boy 1961

I spent most of my adult life on the faculty of New York University, a sprawling urban corporation that provokes awe and disdain, occasionally admiration, sometimes rage and almost never love. Mater, si, Alma, no. I was, and still am, I suppose, what is called a professor, and what I professed was some knowledge of […]

The Feast of St. Joseph 1975

“Angelica. Angelica Henlein,” Kessler shouted over the phone. I was standing at a public phone in the Beirut airport. I was astonished that the phone worked, that I had the right Lebanese coins, and even more astonished that when I dialed my old friend and guide Heinz Kessler in Beirut, he simply picked up the […]

A Dig at Heraqleh 1979

Father Flanagan, the cleric portrayed by Spencer Tracer in “Boystown,” reportedly said that there was no such thing as a bad boy. I don’t know about boys, being one myself even at this advanced age, but I know a lot about ideas since I’ve had a few, and I can attest that there are assuredly […]

Up on the Heights 1974

A highway runs straight down the spine of Syria: Aleppo, Damascus, Dera’a. From Aleppo it wriggles crookedly northwest to the Turkish frontier; from Dera’a it drops quickly southward into Jordan. On its descent from Damascus the highway divides some of the most fertile land in the Middle East, a carpet of rich red earth that […]