Modern Life as Cargo Cult

We are nominalists, so we can’t know where true virtue lies; indeed, as nominalists, we are sure that it does not lie in any real particulars; so that, really, it does not lie anywhere, at all. Still, we find that we are compelled for reasons native in and obscure to us to adhere to some notion of virtue or other, even though we feel sure that there is no such thing as virtue in reality. So, to satisfy that compulsion, we will now and henceforth *signal* virtue, as our forebears did – albeit, without any ugly untoward recollection of the really appurtenant deontological distinctions among men & their acts that our fathers drew between virtue and vice. All our moral evaluations are pretenses. But, to save our appearances, we shall pretend that they are not.

Our pretence prescinds its pretence.

So, and despite all the foregoing – which might lead to an appearance of pretence or uncertainty on our part – we utterly condemn all those who have not volubly vouchsafed their adherence to … the stuff that we these days adhere to.

We shall *act* as though we understand what it is to act badly.

Bad Faith as Endemic – ergo, Fundamental – to Modernity

The basic idea is that moderns cannot as such believe anything honestly and with a whole heart. This follows straightforwardly from their nominalism – which, often, they do not even suspect might be in them operative. So, their beliefs are all tentative, ad hoc, only their own and private, nowise dispositive of any reals external to themselves, certainly not at all authoritative (over anyone else, or even over themselves) and thus *not truly believed.* This is why moderns are so prone to depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

They don’t believe the Narrative in their hearts. But the Narrative is all they have to go on; and one must perforce go on. They have no confidence in anything else.

On becoming educated

For most of my life, indeed until a few years ago, I held a romantic, even exalted, view of academia. What could be more inspiring than a vocation and a community devoted to the life of the mind? One could see university life as a sort of secular monasticism, participation in a tradition unbroken from the High Middle Ages. I was convinced that this was still there underneath despite all the evident corruption, and this is not a belief a man relinquishes without a certain bitterness.

Universities exist to pursue truth. This is consistent with the university espousing a particular belief system–there have historically been Catholic and Marxist universities, for example–so the pursuit needn’t be entirely open-ended. However, I doubt a true university can exist under the DEI ideology because it is not even a comprehensive truth claim about the world, but the assertion of a status hierarchy, an exercise in messaging rather than literal speech.

In common usage, being “educated” means having gone to a Western-style secular school, and being “highly educated” means having gone to college. Thus, for example, it is said that America battled the Taliban so that “Afghan girls could be educated”, and it is said that, in America, all of the “educated” classes vote for the Democratic Party. This usage should be contested. It is false and insulting to so cavalierly assert that Afghan housewives and American plumbers are less knowledgeable in some absolute sense than those with four years of indoctrination in the Regime’s race and gender ideology, as if only Regime ideology counts as knowledge, and not what is picked up from parents, religious tradition, or on-the-job training and experience. From a properly neutral sociological point of view, nearly all human beings are deeply “educated” by their surrounding culture. Illiterate peasants have generally had vast amounts of practical knowledge, familiarity with their natural and social environment, folklore, and a profound inherited sense of their place in the cosmos. If it be contested that some of this knowledge is not scientific in the sense of empirical verifiability, I would say that a greater fraction of it is scientific by this measure than what is taught today in college outside the engineering and medical schools.

Much misunderstanding comes from the false belief that education is the sort of thing that can be acquired in four years. We imagine that we should become educated while young and then have our whole adult lives to apply this education to our work and civic participation. In order to accomplish this, we encourage students to either 1) learn only some narrow specialty, 2) get a general-survey smattering of many subjects, with a heavy dose only of propaganda, or 3) rush through the “great books” with necessarily too little time to digest them and too little maturity to appreciate them. Whatever the value such an expenditure of four years, it should not lead one to the complacent assurance of being educated. I now speak of “education” not in the sociological sense but in the eudaimonic sense of the flourishing of the intellectual aspect of human excellence. In this sense, becoming educated is the work of most of a lifetime. Formal schooling gives only the tools to begin the process of education. Only a minority have the calling to pursue education, and of these only the most gifted can hope to become educated before the age of sixty. By this standard, I am not educated, and though I feel a calling to it, I may never reach the goal. Fortunately, progress in education–like progress in health, wisdom, self-control, and holiness–is valuable in itself even when the full realization remains distant. We must fulfill our duties as workers and citizens–sometimes even as teachers–with partial education.

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Updates and Additions to Aesthetic Knowledge

FatherIf beauty did not exist, it would be pointless to talk, write, or think about it. All human beings recognize the existence of beautiful things and all languages have a word for beauty. This indicates that beauty exists. It makes no sense to think that we would all have a word for “water” if water were purely imaginary. Words are communal and connote a degree of shared experience. If they did not, we would be incapable of understanding each other. It would be a very frustrating world if there were no convergence of opinion at all about what is and is not beautiful, and if aesthetic judgments were totally idiosyncratic and arbitrary. Each language has a word for “love,” too. Love is invisible, but real and important. Not everything that is real exists as an inert physical object. To perceive beauty requires a creative act on the part of the perceiver. It is possible to travel through what should be a beautiful landscape and to remain unmoved and blind to beauty. There should be a sense of exaltation, but oftentimes we are just not in the right frame of mind. Being bored or tired is going to interfere with the ability to perceive beauty. For something to be beautiful something must be evoked in the subject. In this sense “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But, crucially, this is not the same as saying that beauty is a mere nothing and is whatever someone says it is. It is only to say you cannot see it if you are in the wrong frame of mind, and if you just cannot rise to the occasion. Continue reading

The Great Satan versus Man

I learnt just now from our shieldmate Patriactionary that there is a new Hulu reality TV series about ten unspeakably beautiful ‘Muslim-American’ Afghani sisters “sleeping around, causing drama, and getting cosmetic work done.” Lots of cleavage to be seen on the adverts, of course. Plus collagen, and no doubt Botox, makeup out the yin yang, obviously; then also the sultry come hither looks: all the usual stuff.

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Nondum, or, Barbershop Meditations

Yielding to uxorial importuning, I betook myself to the barbershop this morning.  My yielding was not, I insist, uxorious, although it was, perhaps, prudentially.  Readers who do not know the subtle difference between uxorial and uxorious are advised, with their wife’s permission, to consult a dictionary.

As barbershops no longer supply waiting patrons with virile (if outdated) magazines, and as I have myself regressed from flip-phone to no-phone, I nowadays depart for the barbershop with some reading material in my trouser pocket.  That it fit in my trouser pocket is the principal criterion. Continue reading

Filotto Strikes Back

Readers who like to consider both sides of an argument may peruse Giuseppe Filotto’s blistering rejoinder to my apology for Bruce Charlton.  Filotto argues that I am stupid, a liar, and at times even a stupid liar who lies stupidly.   I also once misspelled Filotto’s name, for which I apologize.  Filotto is a vigorous vituperator, although his stock of insults is limited to deprecation of the intelligence and veracity of those who disagree with Filotto.  In my experience, disagreement has less obvious origins.  I will say that I agree with Filotto that despair is self-fulfilling prophesy, and that we should all do what we can to keep our peckers up.

Bruce Charlton is Not a “Gatekeeper.” Nor a “Shill,” Nor a “Glowie,” Nor a “Fed.”

I had not read Giuseppe Filotto until Kristor linked to his denunciation of Bruce Charlton.  I have since read nothing but that denunciation and Filotto’s appended comment that the Orthosphere is a nest of “cretins.”  Filitto accuses Charlton of being a “gatekeeper,” possibly by intention and certainly in effect.  He means what is more properly called a “shill,” since the accusation is that Charlton is aiding the side that he ostensibly opposes.   In culture theory, a “gatekeeper” is a person who can admit or exclude aspirants to some coveted inner ring of the chosen few.  Like St. Peter at the gates of Heaven, a “gatekeeper” can say “welcome to the elect” or “be damned and to Hell with you.” Continue reading

Paranoia, Proper & Less than Proper

I have noticed a trend of late in our tiny reactionary corner of the web, of estimable and supremely intelligent commentators characterizing some other mostly like minded,  likewise  intelligent commentator as glowing, comped, a gatekeeper of our enemies, a sub rosa enemy. To wit, Giuseppe Filotto has just accused our friend Bruce Charlton – an utterly irredeemable idiosyncrat, if ever there was such an one, God bless the man (hoo boy, let me tell you …), and, ergo, an inveterate heresiarch, in respect to *any traditionally received body of doctrine whatever* – of being a gatekeeper. Forsooth.

LOL. I know Bruce. ROFLOL. The same accusation is hurled at Tucker Carlson, at Trump – indeed, it seems soon or late to be hurled by some one of us or other (spirit of envy, much?) at anyone who takes some ground in the culture war, or who speaks some truth or other forbidden by the Narrative,  at no small risk to himself. Vox Day is probably next, that horrible apologist for the globalists! Pay no attention to *everything he writes.* That’s all a smokescreen! He’s actually an agent of the WEF! He’s the Ray Epps of the web!

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We are Up Against an Iron Triangle

“An aristocracy in one department of society, introduces an aristocracy into all.”

William M. Gouge, A Short History of Paper Money and Banking in the United States (1833)*

“The fact that all political parties and religious creeds tend to exert an influence upon those in power and, whenever they can, to monopolize power itself, is the best proof that . . . they are convinced that to control all the more effective forces in a social organism . . .  is the best way to spread and maintain a doctrine.”

Gaetano Mosca, The Ruling Class (1939)**

Mosca tells us that nineteenth-century liberals were mistaken in their belief that freedom of expression and conscience must lead to the triumph of truth.  Nineteenth-century liberals were, indeed, absurdly mistaken because, “to be quite frank, it is hard to find a notion that involves a greater superficiality of observation and a greater inexperience of historical fact.”  Where there is freedom of conscience and an open marketplace of ideas, by far the largest trade will be in falsehoods that flatter, rationalize and console. Continue reading