"Decadence is the word of evening,
vespers said by artists about the
lives of men and nations."
-Earl Shorris, American Vespers
It is an elegantly written essay, but I don't know if I agree with Mr. Shorris' analysis because I'm not sure I understand what he means when he says Reagan removed ethics from politics and that this was the beginning of the death of America. If he means that men, politicians and those in positions of power, don't care to be moral anymore, then I agree. But if he means that politics should be concerned with ethics or questions of ought or should, then I think he is wrong. He says, "Without ethics, politics has no limits. America broke the rules of living systems, and lost its balance. All the oxygen flowed to a smaller and smaller section of the body politic. The history is brief and unquestionable: close to toppling, the society momentarily pulled itself upright, and then became even less ethical, less balanced, more endangered than ever as a lawless financial system came back from death, and like a foolish patient after a heart bypass operation, continued in its old ways." But hasn't it always been that way? An essay opening with "my descent toward death" isn't all that inviting, but it really is an interesting read.