Selling Beer and Making Whoopee: A Note on Juneteenth

“The time has come in Dallas when the Juneteenth celebration has about gotten down to a contest over the question as to who will sell beer to the crowd.  Unless it rises above this dirty place it should be stopped, for the celebration is a farce, a veritable nuisance which should be abated.” 

Dallas Morning News (July 4, 1903)

I do not know who has the beer concession for our new Federal Juneteenth holiday; but I have no doubt the celebration will be well supplied with “beer.”  By “beer” I mean the gassy and intoxicating mumbo-jumbo of mystagogues, masochists and mountebanks, because the purpose of this new Federal holiday is to goose the market for their gassy and intoxicating brew.  Henceforth, so long as the star-spangled banner yet waves o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave, the Juneteenth holiday will provide these glib grifters with an annual pretext to flood the country with a double dose of their weepy jeremiads, thundering indictments, counterfeit histories, and grimacing oogly boogly. Continue reading

Strictures on Forgiveness

Kristor asked me to jot down some reflections on forgiveness, and I here happily comply.  Forgiveness is an important Christian virtue, and I am personally grateful for the many, many times I have been forgiven.  I try to show my gratitude by being forgiving myself.  But, as you shall see, I also think Christians are often too forgiving, and at the same time wracked with unnecessary guilt that they are not forgiving enough. Continue reading

Kristor & Ilíon: Gödel, Creation, Evil, the Satan, &c.

In my last post on some happy corollaries of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems, I tipped my hat to our long time commenter (and an orthospherean from before there was an Orthosphere) Ilíon, who had corrected some early posts of mine on the topic. Ilíon and I then took up a conversation by email, which he has reproduced at his own blog. I intend to continue my conversation with him there in the comments thread.

Ilíon is – how can I say this? Ilíon is like Auster and Zippy, with whom he tangled, both. He’s one of those sharp edged minds that always manage to teach me, if only by forcing me to get really clear on what the heck I mean, and, so, think. Our converse has always been challenging, and – without fail – charitable and friendly. And edifying.

He is also willing to entertain radical hypotheses, which makes him interesting. But he is just as ready to slice them to bits with an entirely orthodox Christian razor.

I therefore recommend to you my conversation with my longtime friend, Ilíon.

 

The Problem of Pride (and the Comforts of Hell)

“For Satan flaming with unquenched desire
Forms his own Hell and kindles his own Fire . . .”

Daniel Defoe, The Political History of the Devil (1726)

Satan fell from heaven because he was proud, because he resented a being that was—or that in Satan’s view pretended to be—superior to himself.  Satan resented God, whom he regarded as an arrogant and tyrannical angel, and because he was himself an arrogant and tyrannical angel, Satan resolved to take God’s place on heaven’s throne. Continue reading

On Some Happy Corollaries of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems

I shall not now reiterate arguments I here set forth to my own satisfaction in 2012, shortly after we got started – with the corrective editorial (and indeed, therefore, also substantive) help of my old friend and interlocutor (and, as with any true friend, my teacher) Ilíon, an orthospherean and shieldmate for years before there was such a thing as the Orthosphere – but shall rather recommend that any reader of the present post who finds it at all confusing should first recur thereto, and take it, and ponder it in his heart, before adding below any quibbles or queries. Consider the arguments of that post, together with the relatively brief commentary thereto, as praeparatio for this.

The arguments I proposed in 2012 are nevertheless fundamental to what I shall now suggest, so unless you understand them already, dear reader, it would do you well first to review them.

The basic notion is that any orderly system must, as orderly (and, so, qua system, properly so called; to say “orderly system” is rather like saying “rectangular square”), be amenable in principle at least to complete – i.e., to exhaustive – nomological formalization in a logical calculus. Think, e.g., of the System of Nature, which – as Baconian science, and indeed her predecessor of the more expansive Aristotelian sort both presuppose – must be capable of formalization in a system of natural laws, or at least of natural regularities (tace for the nonce on how any given regularity gets to be anything of the sort, or what any such law might be, or how it might operate). If there is truly a System of Nature, then truly her ways must be legated, and so then legible to us, in some order that can at least in principle be set forth in some formal scheme that undergirds and supports – and, somehow, regulates and so enables – her apparent and merely phenomenal orderliness, in such a way as to secure to us in the first place such a thing as phenomena.

Continue reading

An Anthology of Interviews with René Girard

Girard

My 1987 Paroles Gelées interview with René Girard is included in Cynthia L. Haven’s newly issued Conversations with René Girard as Chapter IV, “The Logic of the Undecidable.” Haven writes: “Bertonneau, at that time a doctoral student in the UCLA Program in Comparative Literature, began the interview by invoking what Paul de Man refers to as ‘the Resistance to Theory,’ in an essay of that name.” I meant resistance to Girard’s theory because of its vindication of a Christic anthropology. Haven adds a comment that I made when she contacted me about including the interview in her anthology: “If I experienced any nervousness on the occasion of the interview, Girard immediately put me at ease. I conducted two other interviews for Paroles Gelées. Without mentioning any names, the contrast with Girard could not have been greater. That makes Girard stand out all the more in my memory.” The Kindle edition is only $14.99 at Amazon.

The Day of the Raspberry and the Age of Mendacity

“There may be exceptions, but in unregenerate human nature, lying is the proper use of the faculty of speech.”

Hartley Coleridge (1837), quoted in Memoir of Hartley Coleridge (1851)

“The generality of men have no sincerity in their speech, no sense or profit in it.  You are better listening to the inarticulate wind . . .” 

Thomas Carlyle, Journal (November 26, 1840)

In a recent post, Bonald asked how we are to discern true authority in today’s marketplace of ideas, where the idea-vendors are numerous, the vended ideas are various, and caveat emptor is a shopper’s only guide. Continue reading

Two Recent Anti-Modern Critiques – Thaddeus Kozinski & Daniel Schwindt

Bird 17 Powers, Richard M. (1921 - 1996) - Abstract in Yellow (1960s)

Richard M. Powers (1921 – 1996): Modernity as Apocalypse

By the irony of belatedness, reaction emerges from revolution and the critique of modernity from modernity itself.  Tradition stopped being an unnoticed background and became a theme in writers like Joseph de Maistre (753 – 1821) and François-René de Chateaubriand (1768 – 1848) during and in the aftermath of the Revolution in France.  Having made modernity a theme, the work of Maistre and Chateaubriand, among others, could be carried on by writers of later generations.  In the first half of the last century, René Guénon (1886 – 1951) and Julius Evola (1898 – 1974) stand out as major inheritors of the reactionary genre.  Perhaps the name of Oswald Spengler (1880 – 1936) should be added to those of Guénon and Evola.  The two men were certainly influenced by Spengler’s Decline of the West (Volume I, 1919; Volume II, 1922), which sees the modern period as belonging to “civilization” rather than to “culture,” the former being for Spengler moribund and the latter alive.  According to Spengler, Culture, with a capital C precedes civilization; and civilization can last for a long time.  Nicolas Berdyaev (1874 – 1948) also contributed to the critique of modernity although the recognition of his brilliance and the appearance of his early titles together constitute a fairly recent phenomenon.  Every year sees the publication in many languages of books that owe a debt to these writers.  Among those appearing in English recently, one could point to Thaddeus J. Kozinski’s Modernity as Apocalypse – Sacred Nihilism and the Counterfeits of Logos (2019) and Daniel Schwindt’s Case against the Modern World – a Crash Course in Traditionalist Thought (2016).  Both will reward the reader even though their authors penned them (what a quaint term) before the events of 2020, which demarcated one age from its successor.  Both view modernity from a Catholic-Traditionalist perspective, but with nuances of difference.  Both view modernity as accelerating toward its inevitable climax.

Continue reading