"We Americans have never been all that comfortable with patriarchy in the strict sense of the word. The men who established our political independence — guys who, for the most part, would be considered late adolescents by today’s standards (including Benjamin Franklin (fig. 3), in some ways the most boyish of the bunch) — did so partly in revolt against the authority of King George III, a corrupt, unreasonable and abusive father figure. It was not until more than a century later that those rebellious sons became paternal symbols in their own right. They weren’t widely referred to as Founding Fathers until Warren Harding, then a senator, used the phrase around the time of World War I.

From the start, American culture was notably resistant to the claims of parental authority and the imperatives of adulthood. Surveying the canon of American literature in his magisterial “Love and Death in the American Novel,” Leslie A. Fiedler suggested, more than half a century before Ruth Graham, that “the great works of American fiction are notoriously at home in the children’s section of the library.” Musing on the legacy of Rip Van Winkle and Huckleberry Finn (fig. 4), he broadened this observation into a sweeping (and still very much relevant) diagnosis of the national personality: “The typical male protagonist of our fiction has been a man on the run, harried into the forest and out to sea, down the river or into combat — anywhere to avoid ‘civilization,’ which is to say the confrontation of a man and woman which leads to the fall to sex, marriage and responsibility. One of the factors that determine theme and form in our great books is this strategy of evasion, this retreat to nature and childhood which makes our literature (and life!) so charmingly and infuriatingly ‘boyish.’ ”

The Death of Adulthood in American Culture 

"If Brown’s definition of “having it all” was ultimately as facile as it was untenable, Dunham’s interpretation may be rooted in her unwavering commitment to the idea that personal experiences, especially women’s personal experiences, are valid and necessary as subject matter. Having it all may be a tall order, but saying it all — and in all sorts of ways — is a worthy goal."

Meghan Daum 

"However, this added oomph may rile you up from time to time, so control your temper, especially when politics or religion come up in conversation. Venus in your tenth house of honors and recognition may counter the affects of this martial transit; however, it’s best to avoid impassioned topics during the next few weeks.” This week