Pangs and Fury of Despair

“I will indulge my sorrows, and give way
To all the pangs and fury of despair.”

Joseph Addison, Cato (1712)

You may have seen that the conservative gadfly Mike Adams took his own life after being forced into early retirement, at the age of 55, by the University of North Carolina—Wilmington.  I had forgotten about Adams, but his lampoons of the politically correct university were one of the first things I read on the internet.  Adams was what I would call a right liberal, and I stopped reading his blog when his gags grew stale, but I was saddened by the news that he at last put a gun to his head.

Certain corners of the internet are buzzing with rumors of foul play, some cretinously asking how a man with a half-million-dollar severance package could do anything but dance away into retirement counting the bills.  Others speak darkly of powerful interests who were quaking at the thought of Mike Adams with an internet connection and free time on his hands.  This strikes me as nonsense.  A half-million dollars means very little to a fighter who has been beaten; and no one quakes at the thought of damp squibs from a beaten man.

In all likelihood, Mike Adams died of despair.

As Cato’s son Marcus says in the lines of my epigram, despair alternates between “pangs” and “fury,” between a stabbing pain against which you have no defense, and an impotent rage that you can do nothing but be so stabbed.

“With woeful measure wan despair—
Low sullen sounds his grief beguiled;
A solemn, strange, and mingled air!
’Twas sad by fits, by starts ’twas wild.”*

Collins does well to liken despair to a musician, and his song to a funeral dirge interrupted by trills of wild frenzy.

* * * * *

I did not descend to the lower hell from which Mike Adams could only escape by suicide, but I did ride the bucking bronco of pangs and fury this past week.  I was sad by fits and by starts was wild.  The harpies got to Adams in the end, and one of them took a vicious snap at me.

Last week I received notice that an anonymous student felt threatened and harassed by words I have published here at the Orthosphere, and had therefore filed an official complaint of racial and sexual hate.  Many people who have known me for decades immediately decided that this meant there was at least a fifty-fifty chance that I am a clandestine ogre who scrawls filthy words on these pages, who blurts crudities, spouts invectives, and skewers little kiddies on a spit so I can roast them over a cruel fire.

Long time readers may disagree, but I do not think I have done anything like that in these pages.  I have sometimes voiced opinions foreign to the flapdoodle one hears fluted in a postmodern faculty lounge, and I have tried to do this with a degree of panache, brio and jolly jouissance, but I did not suppose that I sounded like a jeering oaf or vitupertive crank.

* * * * *

The complainant was too lazy to dig very deeply into my on-line corpus, but very quickly discovered damning proof that I am one of Satan’s spawn.  He or she submitted as evidence of my vileness three answers I wrote to comments over the course of the past six weeks.  These appear to have been selected because they contained voodoo words, the anodyne meaning of my answers perhaps obscured by the complainant’s poor reading comprehension.  This complainant was not a critic who, after careful study, discovered a sinister undercurrent beneath my words, but was rather a postmodern prude, a malevolent Mrs. Grundy, a progressive philistine, an SJW.

Narrowminded bigotry is the telltale mark of the SJW.  Narrowminded bigotry and hate.  The SJW is not only trapped in a swirling Sargasso Sea of stagnant platitudes, but is also convinced that beyond the horizon of that sorry Sea there is nothing but its exact opposite and antithesis.  SJWs are, for instance, stagnantly platitudinous about equality, and therefore hold the narrowminded and bigoted opinion that anyone who disagrees with what they say on the subject must necessarily be a proponent of slavery and genocide.  SJWs are likewise stagnantly platitudinous about their love of people of different colors, and therefore hold the narrowminded and bigoted opinion that anyone who disagrees with what they say on the subject must burn with murderous hate whenever a person of contrasting color hoves into view.  And this moronically Manichean worldview justifies the mean and bitter pinheads that we call SJWs in hating and harassing anyone who is not equally mean, equally bitter, and equally pinheaded.

You may feel that I have here at last abandoned restraint and begun to skewer a little kiddie on a spit, and to roast that little kiddie over a cruel fire with unbecoming glee.  Perhaps you are right, but this particular kiddie is putting me through hell and is trying to stuff a sock in my mouth; and I don’t take at all kindly to that.

Neither did poor Mike Adams, until, at last, the little kiddies and horrible harpies drove him to stop his own mouth with something no man has the power to remove.  A man can brave only so much fury; he cannot bear infinite pangs.


*) William Collins, “The Passions, An Ode” (1770)

38 thoughts on “Pangs and Fury of Despair

  1. But now, what will be the character of the children reared under such a domestic organization as this? If human experience has established anything at all, it is the truth of that principle announced by the Hebrew prophet when he declared that the great aim of God in ordaining a permanent marriage tie between one man and one woman was “that He might seek a godly seed.” God’s ordinance, the only effective human ordinance for checking and curbing the first tendencies to evil, is domestic, parental government. When the family shall no longer have a head, and the great foundation for the subordination of children in the mother’s example is gone; when the mother shall have found another sphere than her home for her energies; when she shall have exchanged the sweet charities of domestic love and sympathy for the fierce passions of the hustings; when families shall be disrupted at the caprice of either party, and the children scattered as foundlings from their hearthstone.—it requires no wisdom to see that a race of sons will be reared nearer akin to devils than to men. In the hands of such a bastard progeny, without discipline, without homes, without a God, the last remains of social order will speedily perish, and society will be overwhelmed in savage anarchy. (emphasis mine)

    • The egalitarian doctrine forces us to think that all social relationships are equal and the same, so that the filial and spousal relationships come more and more to be thought of as not much different than friendship. My sons have recalled more than once my telling them that I was their Father, not their friend. Experience taught them that this did not mean that their Father was unfriendly, only that the relationship between Father and son is unlike any other. As Dabney says in this quote, things do not go well when this relationship is absent.

      • My sons have recalled more than once my telling them that I was their Father, not their friend. Experience taught them that this did not mean that their Father was unfriendly, only that the relationship between Father and son is unlike any other.

        Ditto on both counts. I can remember my father telling me the same when I was a youngter.

        BTW, I trust you know my thoughts and prayers are with you during this trying time. I reckoned something was up the other day when I read your post about ‘loving’ your mask. Of course I thought it odd that the one thread from Prof. C’s earlier post suddenly disappeared without warning or explanation as well, but thought it best to ‘leave well enough alone’ and not bother to ask.

      • Thanks. I think Richard wanted to keep the thread on topic. As it happens, all the evidence submitted in the complaint against me was taken from my answers to comments, and at least two of the comments were off topic.

  2. I really do not know why they hate, but I’m well aware why I hate them. The vast majority of American conservatives does not hate them; Christians in general are very poor haters. Myself, however, I actually do hate in a way that they imagine the Right hates. Perhaps it’s ancestral Semitic choler; perhaps it originates in bad experiences growing up. I’m not entirely sure, but I just don’t have any tolerance for them. It’s not because they have wrongheaded opinions. How could I expect normal (well, “normal”) people to mount the heights of philosophy — to untie knots that have perplexed the greatest of thinkers? (Not that the bullshit they espouse is defensible . . . but the more fundamental principles underlying our disagreements are, indeed, real problems.) And it’s not the real harm that they do — to civilization, to our particular society, to flesh and blood human beings who unjustly suffer from their actions. It’s not even the beauty that they deface (corruptio optimi pessima) or the significant opportunity costs that they inflict on the world.
    No, I hate them because they are hideously ugly — an affront to man, made in the image of God, though they make that doctrine very difficult (rather impossible for me) to accept in their cases. They have such squalid souls, such wretched characters — to combine arrogance and the will to dominate — quite objectionable even in great men — with such weakness, such ignorance, such stupidity, such irrationality and hysterical emotiveness, such comical vanity and childish self-righteousness . . . petty, whiny, bitchy, micro-psychotic vindictiveness — it’s just too much! Too absurd, too grotesque, too revolting to stomach. They make all the most sordid people in the history books appear decent, perhaps even noble, in comparison. The haughtiness and vanity of an Achaemenid King of Kings with the awareness (self and otherwise) of a cockroach and the personal obsessions of a pubescent brat — has there ever been a greater abomination among living creatures? That’s a real question — not rhetoric. They are walking arguments for the destruction of Western civilization — like a Susan Sontag riff on the Last Man: “Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant, Balanchine ballets, et al. don’t redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world. The white race is the cancer of human history.” They have ended up proving Sontag correct!

    • A stirring comment, and I know what you mean. I think you are describing what was once called a punk. The word was rendered innocent when it was used as a synonym for small, and boys spoke of their punk sister. Then it was rendered hip with punk rock. But punk was at first an adjective that described rotted wood. From there it came to denote a rotten person, often a prostitute. If you have ever touched punk wood, you will know that it looks fairly sound, but then crumbles to dust when you touch it. I not long ago fell down the bank of a creek when a leaned against a punk tree. This is what I meant by “unformed ‘faces'” in my previous post.

  3. Pingback: Pangs and Fury of Despair | Reaction Times

  4. I am very sorry to hear this Professor Smith. I am an alum (or I guess I should say former student) of the University at which you teach, and after having discovered you at the Orthosphere am very saddened that I never had the opportunity to take one of your classes. I hope that all will be well for you in the end, and may God bless you.

    • Sorry I missed you when you were here. Stop in for a visit if you’re ever back on campus and they do not succeed in ejecting me.

  5. You are having a dis-illusioning experience as the victim of a politically-correct witch-hunt, which is priceless learning, if the opportunity is taken. The reason I say that, is that without such an experience, and without the capacity to learn from it, very few people are able to discern the nature of the real world.

    You may learn, for example, who your real friends are, how few they are, and how shallow and selfish are the great mass of pseudo-relationships among colleagues and disciplines, how short-termist and selfish is the prevalent moral grandstanding, how immune to evidence and resistant to reason is our society…

    The sheer scale and completeness of these phenomena seems impossible for people to grasp without having been at the sharp end of them – and even then, many I have known who were pc victims have utterly failed to grasp what has happened to them – I think because they were leftist atheists, hence incapable. They were made angry, sad or bitter; but learned nothing substantive.

    It is a tough lesson: I needed it three times at least – with varying severity and duration; but the eventual insights were lasting, and priceless.

    (Even though what you learn is in practice almost uncommunicable; because – lacking such experince, lacking having learned from such experience – people just can’t/ won’t believe it. To experience such as the inner workings of scientific academic discourse, of universities, of science publishing, of journalism, of politics – is to know the nature of Antichrist.)

    • Thanks, Bruce. You are entirely correct. This is one of those things no one can understand secondhand, and it is important to actually watch as illusions vanish. This is partly to prevent falling into the cynical belief that everyone and everything is phony. When you actually watch an illusion vanish, you sometimes see why you should have known it was an illusion, and why something that it resembled was not. One thing I have learned is that phonies overact, as is evident in what you describe as “the prevalent moral grandstanding.” I think this is what Christ was telling us when he condemned the hypocrites who prayed loudly in the streets. Thus anyone who overacts the role of concern, compassion or a love of truth is very likely a phony. As you say, this is rife in the university. The psudo-scholars are at first glance super-scholars. The psudo-articles in psudo-journals have too many citations. They wear their phylacteries wide!

  6. The Mischievous Imp who is attempting to defame you should be brought before a Court of Inquiry, adjudicated upon with Impartiality, given every recourse to appeal, and ultimately drawn and quartered (figuratively of course).

    Despite my abhorrence for the tactics of the mob, the Mischievous Imp should have his social media and life history analyzed for Impious, Impertinent and Improper notions, and be duly Impugned.

    Everyone has a skeleton or maybe two in their closet, but Malicious, Mischievous Imps, the moral crusaders who Implicate others while unilaterally bestowing moral purity on themselves are a cancerous blight that should be exposed to glaring, purifying light.

    • I’m not sure the imp is educable, but if he or she is, the lesson should be that free inquiry and debate ought to be the life and soul of a university. Dr. Smith is perfectly free to propose ideas, and you, little imp, are perfectly free to challenge those ideas. Also that Dr. Smith is a teacher who will take it easy on any little imps who want to spar in the ring. Little imps who play assassin not so much.

  7. My name is Mick Leahy, a veterinarian from Tipperary, in Ireland. I waive my anonymity, because there is little else I can do.

    • When I first began to write on the internet, I chose partial anonymity. My idea was that anyone who wanted to know who said these things could find out who I am, but that a student who googles my name would not have the Orthosphere pop up as the first hit. I do not disapprove of those who write under pseudonyms, but I knew my posts would soon make clear that I am an academic historical geographer in central Texas, so a nom de plume would not work for me. Most writers are not so obviously in a place. There are many fine internet writers whom I have read for years without forming any clear idea what continent they live on.

      I have a great grandmother from Tipperary. This gives my father a right of return to Ireland, but I don’t think the privilege extends to me.

  8. Mr Smith, I always thought you a brave man for writing under your own name, which seems a silly thing to think if you didn’t realize the times we live in. I think sometimes about removing my anonymity, but I am not so seasoned a veteran and I am still a minute and replaceable cog in the machine. I’ve told a few people about my space but those people I told had the power to ruin me even without the blog, so i considered it a fair bet. I’ve shared enough details that they could be pieced together but inviting such scrutiny gives me chills.

    It is a tragedy what has happened (and sounds like, is happening) to you. If they had stopped to read they might’ve found that you offered an opportunity to learn for the first time in their life, but instead they were playing buzzword bingo with a grievances card. Your posts might be objectionable to the kind of people you object to. But there’s the saying, “I never learned anything from someone I agreed with.” A great opportunity to learn has been lost, and will remain lost if they succeed in raising you up as the straw man for all the things in the world that challenges their fragile bubble.

    I hope things resolve in the manner that is best suited for you and yours. If you ever find yourself on the east coast looking for any bones you misplaced in Carderock, I would be happy to ease your search with libation. In the meantime, if there is anything I can do to support you, please say the word.

    God be with you, Sir.

    • Thanks, Scoot. I think things will work out because there are still some solid people in the system, but it will give the nasty whisperers something to whisper about. I think I need to own what I write, but you are wise to maintain your anonymity. If someone comes after you, it will not be because of what you have said, but because of who you are. Thanks for the reminder of many happy hours at Carderock (and one very unhappy hour).

  9. Dear JM: One of the reasons for my retirement was the descent of the university into a shit-hole of Dionysiac witch-hunting and denunciation. The shit-hole of the university is indistinguishable from the shit-holes of Portland and Seattle, which now look, in the daily videos, like scenes from The Walking Dead. The spiritually misshapen, intellectually deformed spite-devil who denounced you is an ugly little specimen of the walking dead.

    May the Holy Spirit be with you. Sincerely — Tom.

  10. Dear JMSmith,

    I am very sad to read your post. I too have been recently visited by the harpies and thus have taken a bit of a break from bloggery. I remember the late Harold Bloom being asked shortly before his death about the more trenchant aspects of his career. And his response was, to me, heartbreaking. Bloom spoke of how much he regretted, not because he was wrong but because how little he accomplished. All his work on literary standards, the Western Canon, etc brought him so much grief and very few friends. Regretting one’s career sounds to me close to despair, and yet that was my own temptation as I stared down the harpies’ barrels recently. I’m not very certain I’ll be able to continue my current career with honesty or Christian principle – I only wish my 401k agreed 🙂 I will light a candle before St Ann for you and your family this week and pray for you as well. May the harpies find Truth and Beauty before they find their reward.

    • Thanks for the encouraging words, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve been subject to similar treatment. I can accept the apparent futility of earthly existence because I believe what we really make here on earth are our own souls. It’s not so important that you built a business or had a career; but it is terribly important whether you became a better or worse man in the process. When we hear “dust to dust” on Ash Wednesday, we need to understand that the words apply to the cosmos just as much as to our frail bodies.

      I took to blogging in part because horrible harpies had infested the referee process of the academic journals, and were imposing their diction and doctrines every blessed line in my manuscripts. They are supremely confident that it must be bad if it makes them mad, and I was by then old enough to wave goodby to their squawking and screeching. But the breed has pursued me as it seems they have pursued you. I think the best advice is to behave honorably and make no apologies or concessions to dishonorable men and women.

  11. Our Father God will take care of you. Fear not, Professor Smith. In the battle against principalities and powers, we all must finally “have done all, to stand.” You will lose nothing of importance to you in this life or the next, no matter how it may “feel” in a moment. You are in my prayers.

  12. The morally superior old definition of non-racist strong (who want to be left alone) must culturally destroy the morally inferior SJW weak (who want to continually accuse you, rule your thoughts, language and action by redefining racism to mean everything within the domain of non-controllable physical YOU). There is more then one front to destroy them on. Here’s one emergent anti-woke HR website product launch. Destroy SJW’s. Fight.

    “ is Causing SJW Heads to Explode! – Mr. Reagan

    The evolution of what Human Resource departments must become.

  13. I’m sorry to hear of your troubles JMSmith, may Our Lord grant you victory over your enemies.

    I think this is the context you spoke of in the comments of your mask post.

    • Thanks. Yes, the mask post was inspired by this. The experience made the world seem hostile, but has also revealed that there are plenty of good people in it.

      • Now is perhaps as good a time as any to express my gratitude to you for sharing your honest thoughts and philology (can’t get enough of it!) over the years. I think the first time I encountered you was at Bonald’s Throne and Altar over a decade ago. My wife can attest by how many times I’ve reread your words to her how highly I think of you.

        I’m only sorry that my only way of interacting with you in my poverty, is to come out of the woodwork every once in a while to snipe, so it must appear.

      • I don’t mind sniping. It keeps me young. I’m glad to hear that you’ve enjoyed my posts (although it sounds as if I may owe an apology to your wife).

  14. Hi JMSmith,

    I don’t see how they can discipline you while maintaining any pretense of academic freedom. You’ve never said anything rude or inflammatory (at most you’ve been irreverent toward their pieties), and you’ve even taken some precaution that delicate students not know about your opinions expressed away from work. I suspect your colleagues know there’s no case against you but also know it could be dangerous to say this, although the younger ones are probably fanatics who don’t care and would approve of a de facto law that dissenters get punished.

    Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I am a little bit suspicious about the case of Dr. Adams. I don’t see why a culture warrior like him would be made particularly despondent by what he would presumably regard as honorable martyrdom in comfort. Then again, there are many things we don’t know.

    I imagine the most painful thing must be the cold shoulders from vindictive or fearful colleagues. I hope it helps to know that there are people here, like me, who admire you a lot. Your writing is always elegant and wise; people are now really only faulting you for casting the net of sympathy too wide to include those they insist remain treated as cartoon villains.

    • I think you are right. I have been shocked by this experience, but I have also been extremely gratified to be shown the good and decent people here on the O. and here at A&M. As Bruce said in one of the earlier comments, these are clarifying experiences. I really have no insight into Mike Adams, although what I recall of his writing hints that he may have been manic depressive. But as you and I have often had occasion to remark, it’s easy to get gloomy on this side of the culture war. I also think some professors are especially depressed by retirement. They enjoy having an audience and the world turns yellow at the edges when they think no one will ever listen to them again (not even pretend to listen).

  15. This legal team went on OFFENSE on behalf of Nick Sandmann and is achieving success with settlement agreements from WAPO, CNN, etc. more to come. Defense is a failure strategy against relentless SJW nihilist zombies hell bent on consuming your soul. Destroy false accusers.

  16. Dear Professor Smith, I have read your articles & those of the others who write for the Orthosphere for years & have always found them greatly interesting, & at times quite poignant. I can’t profess to any great learning myself, but it is always refreshing to find that there are men who can still think, who make use of logic, clear definitions &c. I pray & hope that all goes well for you, may God & His Most Holy Mother uphold & guard you, & may He pour out His Justice like the Cataract of Niagara on the vermin, who filled with diabolical malice seek to injure just men in every which way they can, so long as they can keep their own filthy hides safe. Joseph A. articulated the sentiment every decent man entertains in regard to these monstrosities perfectly. The situation is hopeless humanly speaking, we can only pray that The Almighty would assist the Remnant of the Faithful to persevere to the end however bitter it may be. I would like to recommend the readers of the site to look up the story of the Shangani Patrol in Rhodesia during the 1st Matabele War in 1893, that is the way that the last survivors of what was once a great civilization ought to conduct themselves. Remember that Our Lord said that He could raise up children to Himself from the very stones; perhaps, if this be not the time of Anti-Christ & consequently the end of the world, there will come a new flourishing of Christian civilization on the earth after a long Dark Age has passed, may God be merciful to us all that we may look down upon it from Paradise.

  17. Pingback: Well, That Was Interesting (But Not Much Fun) – The Orthosphere


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