Critical Musings from a Traditionalist: 26 Essays
by Jocelynn Cordes
Outskirts Press

"[T]he zone must have developed in such a way that all of its discrete parts share their cultural source."

The twenty-six essays in this book are about the choices that people make, the feelings they experience, and why. People serve, promote, and are bullied by authorities that are intrinsic and extrinsic. They are threat-inspired, guilt-inspired, self-inflicted, and liberating. The author's "musings" are highly varied. For example, there are the exquisite choices of a strip-tease artist to emphasize the beauty of a woman's body by dressing classically and completely for her act. Then there is the situation of Nazi atrocities being documented by the Allies while Russian atrocities are largely ignored.

One essay that stands out is Cordes' musings on Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart. The Nigerian author's highly acclaimed book describes in beautiful language the conflicts between the "colonized and colonizers." In the narrative, the cultural and physical brutalities escalate to the point that the protagonist's son finds release and renewal in the English missionaries' hymns and ultimately joins them. In her essay on the book and when addressing each of the many other examples of unusual or incongruous acts, Cordes questions why such things occur. Why do individuals and, ultimately, societies make the choices that they do?

This brilliant book's essays are a collection of articles and op-eds that the author has written for a variety of media. They describe or outline humanity’s experiences of common sense, compassion, personal freedoms, religious beliefs, cultural norms, and more that often are concurrent with peer or national pressures. Intermingled with everything are the virtues and abilities that humans use and abuse, such as courage, intelligence, and other perceived virtues and elements to which people attach importance, as well as situations and beings designated as scapegoats and the ways in which those so designated are sometimes able to change their definitions and situations. The author’s thought-provoking work may very well find an audience among those who are always curious about the story behind the story.

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