Our Strength Destroyed by this New Age’s Ways

The lament of universal ruin is as old as man himself, so it is not without reason that the carping greybeard is a figure of fun and contempt.  Times change, and youth will always delight in the violets that sprout from the manure pile the old bequeath them.   Times don’t change, and the old will always observe that the stink of the pile is much stronger than the scent of the violet.

Nothing stinks like rank mendacity, and there is no mendacity so rank as the corruption of language.   Prepare to hold your nose.

I was this morning invited to an academic lecture on the “general crisis of protection along the U.S. / Mexico border, in which the United States government has abandoned its most basic obligations.”  If you take the phrase “basic obligations” to mean its Constitutional obligations, and assume the word “protection” refers to its citizens, you have very outdated ideas about academic lectures, the United States government, and the rights of a U.S. citizen.

As the announcement for this lecture explains, the “most basic obligations” of the United States government are “to protect those fleeing persecution and to honor the basic sanctity of human life.”   If true, this means that the United States government cannot protect the life, liberty, or property of a citizen of the United States if protecting that life, liberty, or property would incommode the flight of persons “fleeing persecution.”

No obligations can be more basic that the “most basic obligations,” and basic obligations naturally have priority over secondary obligations.

The most basic obligation of a married man is to his household.  This is why he is called a husband, that first syllable being a contraction of the word house.   If a husband is able to meet his obligation to his house, he should then (and only then) look to secondary obligations beyond the walls of his house.  The most basic obligation of a government is to its citizens.  One can argue that this is especially the case if it is a republican government, the public in that name referring to its actual citizens as defined by its laws and constitution.  Its obligations to non-citizens, if they exist, are properly secondary.

It is a very queer and unsatisfactory government that puts the interests of its citizens on a level with the interests of foreigners.  It is a monstrous and abominable government that puts the interests of its citizens below the interests of foreigners.   It is, indeed, an anti-republican government that is laughing at the public interest while sending its citizens the bill.

This lament now seems especially urgent, but it is not at all new.  Here are the apposite opening lines of a sonnet by the seventeenth-century Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo, as translated by John Masefield

“I saw the ramparts of my native land,
One time so strong, now dropping in decay,
Their strength destroyed by this new age’s way
That has worn out and rotted what was grand.”

If these lines do not describe the present state of our southern border, I do not know what does.  But Quevedo/Masefield goes on to say something equally trenchant about neglect of the public interest on this side of the Rio Grande.  And it must be said that the public bears a large share of the blame for this neglect

“I went into my house: I saw how spotted,
Decaying things made that old home their prize.
My withered walking-staff had come to bend;
I felt the age had won; my sword was rotted,
And there was nothing on which I set my eyes
That was not a reminder of the end.”

If you can convince me that I am wrong “to feel the age has won,” can show me aught but “decaying things” in my old home, or can direct my eyes to anything that is “not a reminder of the end,” I ask you to do so, please.

But don’t expect me to be consoled by dung-hill violets.

72 thoughts on “Our Strength Destroyed by this New Age’s Ways

  1. What you describe is yet another instance of the increasingly pervasive, and officially/ globally enforced, *inversion of values* that is the hallmark of the demonic at its most advanced.

    The multiplicity and acceleration of such symptoms (affecting all the usually defined transcendental values – truth, beauty, virtue – and coherence) are what make me sure that here-and-now must surely be the most evil place and time in the history of this world: indeed, the end times.

    • I thought of what you’ve written the moment I read that perverse line this morning. It seems all noble words now have a sinister meaning.

  2. Oh my gosh, there are so many young people who are super positive, constitutionalists and very, very promising intellectually. Have you read Natalie Winters (evidently just returned to U Chicago for degree work) at http://www.thenationalpulse.com? Holy mackerel! Smart as a whip and so incisive. And she is one of many! Oh my gosh things are very promising!

    • “Every period of decline is characterized by this expansion of intellectual activity . . . . The impression that the situation can be saved by mental cleverness, without unselfishness or human self-dedication, can only lead to collapse.” Sir John Glubb, The Fate of Empires and the Search for Survival (Edinburgh, Scotland: William Blackwood & Sons, 1977).

  3. As a matter of law, you are just wrong. The US is a signatory to the 1967 Protocol on the Status of Refugees, which does create obligations to refugees and asylum seekers. The constitution says very plainly that treaties are part of the “supreme law of the land” – that’s pretty damn basic.

    I should say these treaties codify existing moral obligations into law, since the more basic obligation to care for the poor, the homeless, and the stranger is a lot older than 1967.

    • More basic than the Constitutional obligation to defend the nations borders? In any case, none of these people are refugees and they are not “fleeing” anything. They are responding to what demographers call “pull factors.” We’ve got plenty of homegrown poor, homegrown homeless, and homegrown strangers. We should figure out how to help them rather then ask them to share what little they have with imports. Do you really hate American poor people this much?

      • Yes more basic – the constitution mentions treaties specifically, and contains no mention of borders.

        I don’t think I’m going to enter into a debate about policy, because dealing with immigrants and refugees is a complex problem even for those with the best intentions.

        You might want to question your assumptions that these people are automatically the enemies of those who already live here, just because they want to as well, and that helping them do so is tantamount to “hating American poor people”.

        The underlying metaphor is that the US is nothing more than a pie to be sliced up, and any more people asking for a piece automatically takes some away from someone else. And that they take it from those who already have the small slices. This is a pretty limited way to think about a nation’s economics.

        If you are such a friend to the poor, how about supporting programs that will take some of the huge pie slices of the rich and redistribute them? That would make a much bigger difference to them than competition from refugees. See you at the Bernie Sanders rally.

      • How do you know what welfare programs I support? I don’t write very much on economics and may very well be as generous as you.

      • I didn’t make any reference to your personal generosity, and if I’ve made wrong inferences about your politics, my apologies.

        I keep forgetting that this blog is not a bastion of right-wing thought; everyone here is a special snowflake with a worldview orthogonal to the boring mainstream axis.

      • I would also remind a.morphous that the preamble to the very constitution whose treaty principle he has taken such an interest in states, in no uncertain terms, that one main reason the founders bothered to organize a Constitutional Convention in the first place was to “secure the bessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. And, just as a side-note, protection of US borders is a pretty common theme throughout the Federalist Papers. It might do ol’ a.morphous well to read them sometime, since of course constitutional scholarship seems to be the latest of his vocations.

        Someone witty once said that “the Bible doesn’t contain the word Bible either, but I am nevertheless holding one.”

      • @T. Morris that’s very nice, but irrelevant to my point, which was not that borders are unimportant, but that we have positive obligations to refugees and asylum seekers. Our borders do not offer moral protection from these obligations.

        I don’t want to be accused of (or commit) moral grandstanding or hectoring I doubt you are any less charitable, in your own ways, than I am in mine. Still, I thought it was a fundamental component of Christianity that you should take in the stranger and feed the hungry. “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

        So it’s weird to see a Christian blog asserting the opposite, that real virtue lies in group selfishness, that you must attend to your own kind and let the rest of mankind die or starve or be massacred.

        That’s a perfectly coherent view, commonsensical even, but I don’t understand how it fits in with Christian teachings.

    • Then I guess if we are to save the American nation, the legal construct known as the US–and all its toxic ideologies and hypertrophied treaty and legal obligations–will have to die.

    • The “Supremacy Clause” of the U.S. Constitution’s article VI, in “say[ing] very plainly that treaties are part of the ‘supreme law of the land,'” establishes only that, where there’s a conflict, federal law, including duly ratified treaties, prevails over state law. Laying aside the question of whether the “1967 Protocol” to which you make reference constitutes a “treaty,” as that term is used in article VI, the Supremacy Clause does not purport to subordinate all other considerations of federal law or policy to treaties – especially not to vague general notions as to what the treaties represent. (Note that in your second paragraph this “1967 Protocol,” without explanation, becomes “these treaties,” as though there’s this whole host of unidentified international accords to which the U.S. is a party supporting the position you express – whatever, beyond a proclamation of your own moral superiority, that happens to be.) It seems unlikely that a treaty, if that’s what you’re talking about, would create legal obligations owed to individual non-citizens by the U.S. government. Whether or not it does in any event involves a good deal more than your comment rather offhandedly suggests (e.g., if the treaty is “self-executing” and, if not, the existence and contents of any Congressional enactments implementing the treaty, just to name a few things). “As a matter of law,” I’m not convinced that Prof. Smith is the one who is “just wrong.”

      • It seems unlikely that a treaty, if that’s what you’re talking about, would create legal obligations owed to individual non-citizens by the U.S. government

        I’m sorry if it seem unlikely to you, but that’s just the way things are. This is not a matter of opinion.

        And of course there are Congressional enactments also, the 1980 Refugee Act https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refugee_Act

      • But aren’t treaties “living,” just like the Constitution? We should not be shackled by the outdated prejudices of the 1960s, or by ignorantly literal readings and definitions. Treaties have penumbras and emanations, and an enlightened judge can no doubt find in this treaty firm grounds for nuking refugees. I suppose everyone becomes an Originalist when his sacred cow is headed for the hamburger factory.

    • Caring for the poor, the homeless, and the stranger is an advanced moral obligation, not a basic one. It is an ‘above and beyond’ thing, not a basic thing. The basic thing moral obligation is to care for yourself and your household. If you can do that and go beyond care for the poor and homeless your neighborhood and community. And that accomplished care for the strangers and poor in your wider area.

      If one cares for the stranger at the expense of the basic wellbeing of those they are more directly responsible for they are immoral and inhuman.

      • Just so, it’s what I had in mind when I read what A.Morphus said what he said about ‘basic morality’.

        Aquinas’s writing on the Order of Charity was a work that changed greatly how much I could articulate the problem with modern charities etc. Love itself has a proper order and it is evil to ignore it.

        One Lenord Ravinhill preached something with great force force that similarly changed me: if the goal of a mission is to primarily improve the material conditions of mankind it is a humanist mission, not a Christian one.

        I’ve noted that humanist missions to improve the lot of humanity self destruct in the long run, often leaving much worse conditions in their wake. The flooding of America ‘to save the poor’ will leave worse conditions in their wake.

      • I tend to wonder whether the Great Commission has been fulfilled. The gospel has been preached to the ends of the earth and very few people now live in invincible ignorance. Christ explicitly told his apostles to shake the dust from their sandals after they had given it their best shot. You cannot make a carnal man thirst for living water, but you can sure make him act like he thirsts for living water if that is a condition of your drilling him a new well.

      • Funny, Jesus talks a lot about caring for the poor and the stranger, and says not one whit about looking out for number one.

        I mean, you guys are the Christians, not me, so it’s absurd for me to be quoting the Bible at you, but its message on this point is very clear.

        I suppose in some sense it is “advanced”, because self-interest is not really morality at all. Animals without the benefit of consciousness or religion, untroubled by the knowledge of good and evil, manage to implement it. Christian morality in contrast seems quite difficult and unnatural. Better to worship Ayn Rand who will leave your natural selfishness untroubled.

      • Jesus doesn’t actually talk a lot about caring for the poor and the stranger. It only seems like a lot if you ignore all the supernatural stuff, as humanitarians and liberal Christians tend to do. It is true, however, that Jesus does say that caring for the poor means actually caring for the poor, and not merely affecting the outward show of caring for the poor. If you read the miracle of the loaves and fishes, for instance, you will find that Jesus had no interest in running a soup kitchen for poor people. He explains himself in the synagogue at Capernaum, whereupon many who thought he was a welfare program walked away.

      • That’s a good question, and good insights. Thank for your blog.

        I have a great-great-uncle who was an early missionary to a part of Africa that didn’t have missionaries yet. He told me ‘when I went to Africa no one knew about Christ, now they do. When I came back to the west I found that most people here don’t know about Christ, but they think they do.’

        It seems to be the case, everyone in the west vaugley knows about Christianity, but few secular types even get the basic tenets right.

      • That is true but I am not sure the Great Commission requires Christians to harangue people who are too uninterested to get the basic tenets right. It costs no money to listen to sermons and there is a Bible in every motel room in America. It would certainly help if Christians did not compete for market share by magnifying their differences, but ignorance today is the result of indifference. Citizens are taught to read at public expense, free libraries exist almost everywhere, and many books cost less than a hamburger and fries. On any subject you might care to name, basic knowledge is lacking when basic interest is lacking.

      • Man is this tedious. I’m trying to make a point, and you pick on “a lot”. OK, maybe Jesus doesn’t talk about it “a lot”, but as I already quoted, he definitely does say: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in…Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

        If the implication isn’t clear, he goes on: “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

        This couldn’t be clearer: take care of the hungry, take in the stranger, or off to hell you go. How about addressing this, rather than picking on trivia?

      • I suppose it is tedious that we are not bowled over by your proof texting. Charity for ones “neighbors” and the occasional “stranger” are certainly part of Christian doctrine, but they are very far from being the whole enchilada. We should also remember that the Jews to whom Jesus was speaking were perhaps the most exclusive and haughty people the world has aver seen. In any case, we do feed the poor nowadays. Most “refugees” fleeing Latin America are fat, and some are extremely fat. And I can’t see how it is charitable to strip a place like Haiti of its talented tenth. Presumably they had a charitable obligation to their quondam neighbors and ran away from it.

      • I mean, you guys are the Christians, not me, so it’s absurd for me to be quoting the Bible at you, but its message on this point is very clear.

        The Devil quoted the Bible at Jesus too, but none of us think it particularly absurd he did; he was of course presenting himself as an angel of light in that exchange. Duh!

        I tried to reply to your reply to me twice earlier in this exchange, btw, but it seems the ether ate up both of my replies. No matter, though; I’m really not that charitable or charitably minded by most standards in any case, and fyi; my charity (if that is what you want to call it) begins with my immediate family, extends to my extended family, and farther on to my kith and kin if indeed I have enough left to be charitable towards them with at that point.

        One of my younger brothers was fired from his job of 24 years a couple of months back for refusing to get the vaccine. I offered to take him on on a part-time basis shortly thereafter to help supplement his unemployment compensation. A month later he took me up on my offer, seeing as how every company he has so far applied to with his skill set has rejected his application on the same basis. My putting him on the payroll was an act of charity in a sense, AND, he would have been preferred above all other applicants in any case. Do you think so called “anti-discrimination” hiring laws mean anything to me under such circumstances? If you do, you’re nuttier than I thought.

      • Going to bow out from this conversation since nobody seems willing to confront the question. That’s your prerogative of course. I’m in no position to question anybody’s morality or how authentic a Christian they may be.

        But that was not my intent, I’m just honestly puzzled how a deep desire to exclude refugees is reconciled with the words of Jesus that I’ve already quoted twice. It’s an interesting question, but instead of trying to answer it, you throw out squid ink like “but he said all this other stuff” and “doesn’t count because he was talking to Jews”.

        But you don’t owe me any explanations, so let’s leave it at that.

      • As ever in this sublunary coil, a.morphous, it comes down to conflict of goods. Life is a tragedy, no? We would of course like to make everyone fat and happy and righteous and saved, for like you we are (mirabile dictu) nice guys. But that is beyond our poor power. So, we must choose; there must be triage. This is as much as to say that there must be choice, and that choice must be moral. As Dr. Morris (PhD Realogy) reminds us then, our prior obligation to our near poor – such as, in his case, his literal brother – naturally outweighs our posterior obligation to the stranger. This, despite our undoubted obligation to the stranger.

        Were it otherwise, you’d be inviting all the strangers out there to sleep under your roof, and with your wife or daughter. And eat your food, and perhaps worst of all drive your car into the ground, or – ack! – use your chisels ad libitum, as screwdrivers, and vice versa. That way lies chaos, obviously, and universal poverty and ruin. And, thus, the zero of righteousness. So – duh – that *simply cannot have been what Jesus meant.*

        Jesus was *not* saying, “be stupid and evil, so as to destroy my people.”

        The way to understand this is to remember that in the 1st century, it was common practice to neglect the weak. Jesus introduced the radical notion – or, rather, propagated it with fantastic success, for it had ever been present in human society, especially among the Hebrews – that the weak are in the charge of the strong, as their wards. He propagated the notion of noblesse oblige.

        Thus when he says that “inasmuch as ye do it unto the least of these, ye do it unto me,” he is saying, in effect, “don’t be evil to anyone, but rather be good to everyone, so much as it lies within your practical power.” He is *not* saying, “give everything to everyone without discrimination.” Because why? Because – again, duh – it is not ontologically possible to finite creatures to give everything to everyone without discrimination and also avoid injustice. Justice supervenes discrimination between what is more proper to do, and what is less.

        There has been no prophet who discriminated more specifically and more vehemently between the sheep and the goats of his dispensation, than Jesus of Nazareth.

        Think of it this way: if Jesus had meant that we should do all we can for everyone without discrimination, then *on what basis would he himself have forborne to redeem and save from Hell those who have determined to reject him?*

        John Baptist praught of his follower:

        Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
        Matthew 3:12

        Jesus immolates the least of his brethren, who are least *because they have themselves freely determined to be worst.* So, per his own testimony, he does their damnation to himself. Still he does it.

        You want to see some dire discrimination in action, by Jesus himself? Read the whole last section of the very chapter of Matthew that you quote, from verse 31 all the way through to verse 46:

        31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

        34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

        41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

        Like the borders of Eden, the borders of Heaven are impassable to all who are not fit to enter. God is the great discriminator. Deal with it.

      • @JMSmith

        Putting it that way, I beleive you are right. That is a bit off my mind, as the west as the new mission feild has been drilled into me a bit.

        Now my mind is wandering to the great monastic works, and how much good they did for the world even cut off from the world. Perhaps they’re the ones to emulate in some small way in this era?


        Love they neighbor as thyself is predicated on the idea that you know how to love yourself.

        The alternative to the order of Charity, with the self at the center, is utilitarian calculus. The kind which says you can feed ten kids in Africa for the cost of feeding your own, so you ought to let your own starve.

        Alternatives to starting with the self are absurd, and worse they are inhuman. They are grossly immoral. Tell me you are not in their camp?

        Rands problem is she has a poor grasp of what one’s self-intrest is. For Christians (and many pre-Christian groups, like the followers of Aristotle and Plato) it is the highest self-intrest to develop virtues and be one with one’s ideal self. Rand, for what little I know of her, has no concept of self-intrest beyond filling the belly. And too much focus on short term pleasures leaves one a slave to addiction and obsession.

        It is your own prejudices that say animals don’t have consciousness or religion, they have two of the three types of Anima. Natural law, under which animals live and die, is the starting point of ‘basic’ morality.

        The scripture you are trying to abuse includes the phrase ‘of my brethern’. Read v 40. It is not a universal injunction for every stranger. Yes, Christians are to take care of their fellows, they are high in the order of Charity, and a Christian stranger we come across is elevated to the level of community member.

        Now, do you feed your own child before strangers, or are you as much of a monster as you claim to be?

      • I sure do seem to be having a hard time posting in these threads these days, but, let me try again. Kristor wrote:

        Were it otherwise, you’d be inviting all the strangers out there to sleep under your roof, and with your wife or daughter. And eat your food, and perhaps worst of all drive your car into the ground, or – ack! – use your chisels ad libitum, as screwdrivers, and vice versa. That way lies chaos, obviously, and universal poverty and ruin. And, thus, the zero of righteousness. …

        My guess is that a.morphous would prefer the Hollywood version of that story (Down and Out in Beverly Hills – c. 1986), starring Nick Nolte, whose “down and out” character commits all of the above and then some within a well-to-do family determined to give him a hand up. In the Hollywood rendition of course, Nolte’s character’s bedding the wife, bedding the daughter and maid, bathing with dogs in the family’s swimming pool, wrecking their Mercedes, eating up their food and otherwise ‘using the family screwdrivers as chisels,’ turns out to be everything the family needed to set them back on the straight and narrow path, and to make them a real family again. Which is good entertainment and all, but it isn’t reality. I could offer the same commentary upon the film, Trading Places,, but if I did some lefty or other would come in and accuse us all of being racist, and we can’t be having none of that!

        When we lived in Alaska (early 90s) my wife and I became good friends with a Russian couple (Alexei & Tanya Antonov) who were refugees with the Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska. Alexei was a master oil painter in the classical style, whose work was just beginning to get the attention it deserved in the art world. There was another young family with them as well, for whose welfare Alexei and Tanya cheerfully bore a certain amount of responsibility. As Alexei’s work began to gain the notice it deserved and their family, in turn, began to experience some prosperity as a result, the other family kept insisting they were entitled to a full half of everything Alexei’s work earned. So, if Alexei & Tanya moved into a nicer apartment, got new furniture, a newer vehicle, etc., the other family would always insist they receive the same benefits. I personally had many conversations with Alexei back then concerning the dilemma he faced. Which of course was that he was eventually going to habe to cut that dead weight loose, before it ruined both families.

        I think that if you type in his name – Alexei Antonov – in a google search, you will see that the claims I make about his master artistry are in no way exaggerated. I also have in my possession a private video my wife took of our (my and Alexei’s) carrying into our apartment a piece of furniture he and his wife had graciously bought for us out of appreciation to us for having done all we could for them when Alexei’s work had not yet been discovered. Although my wife’s intent in taking that video was purely benevolent on her part, it nonetheless includes the other Russian family mentioned above throwing stuff and shouting obscenities at us (in Russian) about why *they* should be receiving the gift, not us. It is a video I watch from time to time with much humor, and that I will cherish until the end of my days!

      • Human parasites exploit the normal virtues of guilt and pity. It is significant that human parasites are themselves devoid of guilt and pity. There is, as you say, plenty of parasite propaganda designed to make us feel guilty if we don’t rejoice that we are covered with parasites.

      • “Human parasites . . .”

        The other couple was a product of a massive regime-wide effort dedicated to parasitology and parasitopraxis. Those dedicated to perfecting those disciplines have lately been making great strides in these United States of America.

      • @Kristor – the clear meaning of that passage is that god indeed discriminates; and that he will send people to heaven or hell depending on their treatment of the “least of these my brethren”, who are at least in this context equivalent to Jesus himself.

        He doesn’t say anything about only doing this if it’s practical or doesn’t cause inconvenience, or applying this principle unevenly based on geographic distance or what-have-you. I suppose you could interpret “brethren” to mean he meant to make such care limited to members of one’s own tribe. Take care of your own brethren, the non-brethren can starve.

        It’s also true that in Jesus’ time, the issue of knowing about people starving on the other side of the world didn’t come up, let alone having an ability to do anything about it. So we aren’t in the same situation and who knows what he’d say if he was commenting on current affairs.

        Still, it seems unlikely that he’d show less compassion for refugees than has managed to be displayed by the governments of the world, who have agreed that refugees are entitled to protection by law.

      • This is called concern trolling. Presumably our scripture knowledge is at least equal to yours, and damnation is for us a live option, so we have given this some serious thought. These people are not starving, they are not fleeing war, and they are not “refugees.” They are running away from a wreck of a country for the wreck of which, and for the repair of which, they bear some corporate responsibility.

      • A.morphous, Jesus never said anything like, “Starve your own children for the sake of others.” He said rather, “love thy neighbor as thyself.” This is not a difficult concept, either to understand or to carry into practice. It is only the Golden Rule. Honestly. This is so simple.

        If you *don’t* love your neighbour as yourself, then you are going to Hell. Sure. But if you don’t love yourself and those closest to you, then loving your neighbour as you love yours and yourself is going to do your neighbour – and you – no good at all.

        Tell me that you’d be glad to welcome any Afghan man into your house and your bed and the vagina of your wife, and I’ll begin to take you seriously in what you are here arguing. Otherwise, please; you are just hand waving and indulging in empty and thus utterly vain signals of virtue, like the Pharisee on the street corner who covers himself in ashes and publicly laments. Either pledge your daughter’s womb and your son’s anus to any and all who want to use them – regardless of their status under this UN convention or that US treaty – or just cut it out, OK?

        What about your own anus? Is that, too, for sale, in return for a mess of “virtuous” pottage? Why not, since you seem so willing so to sell the orifices of your young countrymen and countrywomen? Stand and deliver, dude; or rather, bend over …

        As for me – one who numbers himself among your friends when push comes, as it were, to shove:

        Love thy neighbour as thyself. Never an easy choice, to be sure.

      • @A.morphus

        You seem to have an awful time addressing the notion that your own utilitarian calculus ‘just help everyone’ is evil.

        You have been told both the why and the how of Chrisitan morality, and the why and the how of why any alternative you could present is an entirely evil thing, even if it’s couched in cuddly care-bear language.

        The next lie you tell is that absurd notion that ‘caring about refugees’ is anything other than self-interested showboating by the politicians in western governments.

        They do not care about these economic migrants, but they see these migrants as tools and levers to secure and expand their political and economic power. Nor do you care about these people in any meaningful way, when it comes to that.

      • @prariepolyguy:

        You seem to have an awful time addressing the notion that your own utilitarian calculus ‘just help everyone’ is evil.

        Where did I ever state that that was my “utilitarian calculus”? (It isn’t utilitarian, it isn’t a calculus, and it isn’t mine, so that’s an impressive level of wrongness you’ve achieved there). Also weird to call it evil, if it comes to that. It’s simplistic to be sure, but evil?

        I would guess you are projecting this view on to me because of your own bad conscience. It’s pretty clear that Jesus requires something like that. Because it’s not very practical or convenient to adhere to his clear instructions, they have been modified by institutional Christianity so one can still be a Christian and have a comfortable, self-aggrandizing middle-class life. And with those modifications, it is more important to protect that life than to care for “the least of these”.

        But I’m not Jesus or a Christian, so far be it from me to tell you what your moral duties are. If you don’t feel an obligation to be charitable to refugees, that’s between you and your conscience and faith, not my business really. But we are talking about state action here, so it leaves the realm of personal charity and enters the realm of public policy. And I can’t help think it’s weird that Christians should be so militantly demanding that the state be less decent and less charitable to desperate people seeking asylum here than the law requires.

        Nor do you care about these people in any meaningful way, when it comes to that.

        How do you know that? It’s a bit presumptuous of you to claim you know what I care about.

        I’m not doing a whole lot, but I am at least trying to argue that my government should treat them decently, against those who want to treat them badly. Since that has approximately zero effect, I also donate to groups who help them in more concrete ways, such as the International Rescue Committee https://www.rescue.org/ .

        I think this topic has been pretty thoroughly exhausted so going forward will try to do less of the former and more of the latter.

      • a.morphous:

        Funny, Jesus talks a lot about caring for the poor and the stranger, and says not one whit about looking out for number one.

        also a.morphous:

        But we are talking about state action here, so it leaves the realm of personal charity and enters the realm of public policy.

        Exactly. State action is different from personal charity. Jesus doesn’t say anything about the obligations of states to neighbor states. That doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t care or that states can do whatever they want. But Faith in practice happens between individuals.

        One of the lessons I take from the lesson of the Pharisee and the Publican is that our practice of virtue is a private matter and should remain so. Whatever you or I are doing that is good, let the actions speak for themselves, they need no apologia, and they need no public acclaim, and they need no followers. No one needs to do good works the way I do them. And I need to do more good works, not less.

        Likewise, Christ says that when giving alms the left hand should not know what the right hand is doing. Likewise for sin, if the left hand sin then cut it off.

        The simple logical fact is that State charity is not the same as individual charity. When I am compelled by the sovereign to do a good deed, it is not a good deed for me nor is it a good deed by the state. It is simply a deed. Maybe it helps! Maybe it doesn’t.

        The government absolutely has the authority to decide whether or not to let people from any country into this country. It is not a sin for the state to deny entry for people. It is not a virtue for the state to admit people. It is a responsibility of government to make this determination with careful prudence, and for the determination to be made in the interests of the public good–the citizen public foremost, the global public second. The ultimate good, that is, God first; the mundane good second.

        So if the government lets in people from any far flung country for any far flung reason, it then becomes the responsibility of the citizens of this country to support them. The citizens of this country do not have the obligation to support people that the state permits to enter. It is frequently the case that they do not: many highly admirable people have stories of coming to America and having to make it on their own, with no assistance from state or neighbor. The state’s responsibility to prudentially determine admittance does not create an obligation on the citizenry to support those admitted. IF they choose to support them, their individual choice could be construed as Charity, and could be construed as loving their neighbor. IF they choose not to, it cannot be construed as eschewing charity and hating their neighbor.

      • Holy crap, that went from charity to anal rape awfully fast. And, as I said in the previous comment, based upon an entirely imaginary view of my beliefs. You want to fantasize about orifices being penetrated, be my guest, but leave me out of it please.

        To state the obvious: letting refugees into your country does not equate to letting them into your house. And letting them into your house does not equate to letting them into your orifices. And they aren’t rape-happy monsters, just people.

        Ads it happens I had a guy from Uzbekistan in my house just the other day – a perfectly charming fellow who was doing some repair work. I did not fear for my orifices or those of my family, because I’m not insane, and because civilization has not yet collapsed into a Mad Max hellscape.

        I don’t know how one can manage to live in the SF Bay Area if you think random immigrants have designs on your asshole. They are everywhere, how do you leave the house?

        You’ve confirmed something I’ve suspected for a long time, which is that the real basis for conservatism is deep primal fears, of otherness, of invasion, of loss of bodily integrity. These are real and universal fears, rooted deep in our animal nature, but living in a cosmopolitan society requires overcoming them.

      • Errgh! Lemme try again.

        a.morphous wrote:

        I don’t know how one can manage to live in the SF Bay Area if you think random immigrants have designs on your asshole. They are everywhere, how do you leave the house?

        I should imagine he avoids the high crime areas of the Bay area like the plague(s) that they are. And I imagine you do the same.

        You’ve confirmed something I’ve suspected for a long time, which is that the real basis for conservatism is deep primal fears, of otherness, of invasion, of loss of bodily integrity. These are real and universal fears, rooted deep in our animal nature, but living in a cosmopolitan society requires overcoming them.

        The basis of conservatism is acceptance of reality for what it is (as opposed to what we might like it to be), and conducting oneself accordingly.

        As I intimated above, I reckon it is more a matter of learning to steer clear of the dangerous areas than of overcoming those primal fears. I live in a very safe, very rural (and very white, ahem) area of Oklahoma, for example. But whenever I and my family venture off into the more urban areas of the state for whatever reason, I know which areas to avoid and do so. But, hey, overcome those primal fears at your and family’s own risk!

        I feel it my duty in any case to inform you that San Francisco and the greater Bay area are currently ranked #6 in safewise‘s 10 most dangerous cities in the U.S. list.:


        You’re right, though, about fear of the other being a natural and primal fear. The other side of that coin is that it is completely unnatural (and stupid, to boot) to sluff off those natural inclinations as though there is no merit to them.

        I’ve told the story many times of when my family and I were visiting Robber’s Cave State Park in eastern Oklahoma. My children were swimming in a water hole about a hundred yards away from thr pavilion under which I was preparing hamburgers and hotdogs. At one point, a car full of vagrants pulled into the area and slowly drove through as though they were scouting out the place (which they probably were). About the moment my mother noticed this carload of rough-looking fellows pulling in, and turned to call my children back to safety, she looked their way and discovered they were all already halfway back, with the younger kids being dragged in by their elder siblings. This sight shocked my mom, who exclaimed, “one thing about it, there is no chance your kids will ever be abducted by bad people!” To which I chuckled and said, “probably not; not at least if they get the jump on the bad guys.” She then asked how we’d taught tbem to be so aware of their surroundings. I answered, “we didn’t teach it to them, mom; we just don’t beat their natural fears and inclinations out of them like society and the public schools do.”

      • @a.morphus

        ‘The onlu logical alternative to A is B, since you hate A, you default to B, unless you care to speak for yourself’

        ‘Pfft well I sure don’t beleive B, and I’m not going to say what I do beleive’

        Because it’s incoherent, obviously

        Throwing money at a beurocracy to ‘help’ people you know little to nothing about and very likely hate isn’t doing good. And let’s not joke, insofar as you actually learned about these people’s values, ideals, religion, and goals you hate them more than you hate any of us here, because be it your Latin American Catholic, African hyper-pentecoatl, or your Middle Eastern Muslim they make orthosphere folks appear socially radically left-wing.

        You don’t love these people in any meaningful way. You want to cajole a beurocracy into your political ideological and they’re no more or less than a political cudgel to you.

        You’re project that others don’t care because you don’t even know HOW to care. Caring is something you outsource to other people, to do for people you neither know nor care about.

  4. “The US is a signatory to the 1967 Protocol on the Status of Refugees, which does create obligations to refugees and asylum seekers”

    You can bet the writers of this document never lived anywhere near the refugees or immigrants they wrote about in the treaty.

  5. One of the most reliably tedious things about The Orthosphere is ‘a morphous’ and the pointless interactions associated with that off-the-peg pseudonymous warrior of Establishment values.

    If people want to hear atheist-leftist-materialist ventroliquism, there is the whole global mass media to supply it. Why include it in the Orthosphere as well, and in such quantity?

    Blog comments surely ought to serve as something like an expansion or clarification of the post (working from the same metaphysical assumptions)? Contributing (in various ways) to the theme of the blog in general, and the post in particular.

    And not serving as a regular forum for energetic enemy trolls/ (or maybe) attempted out-reach psychotherapy for those who don’t want to be cured and spitefully intend to infect others with the prevalent/ official nihilistic psychosis (plus – waste the time of Christians on futile activity).

    It isn’t difficult to discern the difference between those who use language to seek the truth, and those who use it for manipulative purposes- easier now than ever before:


    • I suppose this is the wisdom of shaking the dust from one’s sandals. Christ tells is that mutual obstinacy is a pointless waste of time, and that mutual sympathy is the royal road to wisdom. I think this is right, and that we should not fall into the liberal’s trap by extolling the “clash of opinion.” On the other hand, refusal to answer is often taken as inability to answer, especially by more diffident readers on our side. Engaging with leftism is infinitely tedious, but so is sentry duty at the gate of a fort.

    • Thank you for linking that post here. I highly recommend that people read it. In fact, I almost sent an email about it to “the staff” to consider showcasing it, but then I figured I’m a ridiculous cheerleader and serial referrer too often . . . and I moreover hoped that BC would address it on this site. It’s awkward to highlight certain posts when so many others are interesting and insightful, but it summed up so well so much of what we’re witnessing.

      • Yes, it is a good post and well worth reading. We are under the power of a “big lie,” so big that it is dangerous to appear that you don’t believe it. Bruce is right to point out the difference between a society filled with dishonest people and a dishonest society. You’re likely to be swindled in the first, but the second is a swindle.

  6. Feel free to block my comments; you’d be doing both of us a favor. The late Dr. Bertonneau did that and no doubt saved us both a lot of tedium.

    On the other hand, this is an odd piece to trigger that, since it is (a) about a matter of public policy, rather than some purely spiritual concern, and (b) I’m mostly just introducing some relevant facts.

    You are right and the liberal ideal of a productive clash of opinions is pretty dead. Keep in mind though that it is intended as a substitute for more violent forms of clashing.

    • “Keep in mind though that it is intended as a substitute for more violent forms of clashing.”

      Perhaps — if one is a nihilist. The fundamentally liberal (and pre-liberal) take on dialectic is that men thereby strive to come to truth. They enlarge one another’s perspective horizon. Wouldn’t Mill agree to that? Not all living liberals have become sophists — or worse.

      • People who are by nature conservative, who see benefit in many of the lives of and conclusions of, those who have come before us, have become so suffused with the language of the Left (they call themselves Left, but I am not of the Right, in direct opposition to them, except in their own binary mental systems), that they forget to explode the language that trips them up. “Liberal” is an example. The Left, who pervert everything (such is their nature), have though falseness, perverted “liberal” to now mean its opposite. Progressives, are not. They should be called what they are: Regressives, etc. Always attack. Never relent. My language is mine. No one gets so much as a comma!

      • Your tongue is yours, and you are responsible for the words it says, but the language we have in common. We may have private quirks or idioms, but we are not like Humpty Dumpty whose words meant just what he meant them to mean. Because we have the language in common, we have as much right as anyone to try to tug it in the direction we like, but our ultimate aim in speech is to be understood. I know the history and etymology of the word liberal, and that it did not always have the reference it has today. But today it has that reference and I need a word to denote that referent. I am not myself naturally political, and am really quite “liberal” in the eighteenth-century sense of that word–but a man who are not interested in politics soon find that politics is interested in him. This is especially so now that liberalism has eaten away at the customs and traditions and natural understandings that the great tyrants of the past would not have dreamed of tampering with.

      • That is an acquiescence, or, at least, an acceptance of relativism. Of course language is common to those who use it with others, even those who abuse it.

        But fundamentally, language is a means to meaning one discovers within oneself. What I have discovered is the meaning I convey to others: what I have discovered of Truth. That discovery is mine, always, effected through the medium of language and no one has any territory in my consciousness, unless I cede it of my own volition, regardless of what may commonly (and often, wrongly) shared.

      • But you will not convey your discovery if you use a private language. This does not mean you must use a hackneyed language of cliches and buzzwords. Original thought demands original language. But original language is not private language because it is fresh and intelligible at the same time. Consider the sonnet I attached to the notice of Tom Bertonneau’s death. I think it was apposite, but that Hopkins fell into a very unfortunate obscurity in the last two lines. The syntax of the opening lines is gnarled, but here the gnarls enhance rather than obscure the meaning. Taste will vary, but I think Hopkins weakness for private language prevented is being a first-rate poet.

        In a democracy, political discourse is inherently vulgar. It is addressed to an audience of part-time politicians, half of whom are not very bright, and all of whom have very little time to give to politics. I often wince when I hear the way that terms of art from political philosophy are abused as popular slogans, but my political philosophy certainly recognizes the need for popular slogans. I know that progressivism is not “liberal” in any classical, historical, or etymological sense, but I also know that “liberal” is also an arbitrary string of letters (or phonemes) that will mean to my audience what my audience thinks it means.

      • Perhaps we are cross-talking one another.

        What I convey with language is what I have discovered, often with the help of language, either alone within myself through the work of thinking through with words, or with others, and, just as often, by means of rumination occuring without language.

        If I am to arrive at truth, which exists apart from any one language (or perhaps all of them combined), I must use it accurately so as to convey it accurately in accordance with my discovery by means of language. This is what I call “right naming.” If I have sufficient dexterity with the language, I can choose to falsify. But I have chosen to use language to aid in the discovery of what is true and to convey it as accurately as I can in its nearest form to truth. But I first must posit truth to find it.

        Where the academies have totally failed is in this: they abandoned the pursuit of truth. They even disdained the positing of it. Such is relativism. How can they have even attempted to safeguard the discoveries of centuries when the tautology that there is no truth itself was wholesale admitted into consciousness.

        As Sir Roger Scruton, as much a hero to me as Ben Franklin might be to any patriotic American (I love my country), once wrote, “Anyone who tells you there is no truth is asking you to disbelieve him.” Few academics will dare to write: I know what is true. Who dares stand up and stick to his guns? But by golly, Christopher Hitchens, once a Trotskyist, and a Leftist, and the superlative rhetorical defender of his ideas, always claimed to have fathomed the nub of the gist. Scholars, though, surrendered, abjectly, and this was clear by ’68. We see the results: the cacophony of uneducated, illiterate brutes masquerading as intellectuals, and getting well paid for it.

        I mean, what kind of a school is it, like one of my old ivies, Yale (Yellow Underpants never made more sense than it does today), that has devoted an entire department to the destruction of literature? De(con)struction: the dynamiting of literature. A school whose grad art program graduates “artists” who can’t draw perspective (true!). Only a school devoted to falsehood — and the profiting from it thereby. LUX ET VERITAS now means its opposite. The nihilist tautologists have perverted language, turned the world of scholarship topsy-turvy. Vandals took the sacred ground of scholarship from its rightful denizens, liquidated them (figuratively, though they would hope to do so literally) and taken the spoils. The weaklings in the academy who admitted to even the possibility that the enemy’s tautology may be right always gave up ground. Stanford in the 70s kicked Stephen Mother out of its China studies program when he discovered the forced mass abortion program, but it was entirely true. The collapse of the craven bureaucratic academy goes back decades!

        And this is what I mean, when I speak of the language of the Left that has permeated the minds of those who consider themselves anti-Left. Many use language within that Leftist consciousness, writ large. That is why we have contempt that is passed off as comedy; noise, passed off as music; fast food passed off as cuisine, etc. That is why I’m not “on the Right” because in agreeing to that designation, I would be accepting their platform that situates me within their falsehoods that place them on the left hand of God. I do not accept their conclusions and I deny each and every one of their premises. I know that there is truth and I have discovered an iota of it and I write from it. And so have many men over millennia.

        Thomas Sowell has been and Walter Williams was very good at detonating Leftist language. But many are not. Explode it everywhere. Stick to your guns. Be relentless. The Leftist has only the quicksand under his feet to hold him up. “Right naming” is a function of and a product of truth.

      • I think we are talking about different things. Nihilism is itself a word with multiple and changing definitions, but its most common definition is the ontological doctrine that immaterial things are not real. In practical semantics, a nihilist is anyone who denies the existence of a thing whose existence I affirm. A solopsist would therefore be (to me) a nihilist, but I seldom run into genuine solopsist. The nihilists I do run into are moral nihilists, or what you call relativists. There are in fact times when I meet a moral nihilist in my own meditations. In the eyes of a progressive, I am certainly a sort of nihilist, since what they describe are racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., I describe as “nothing at all.”

        I think you are warning against thinking in terms of the false categories of our enemies, and I agree with your warning. I understand that the categories with which we think will be strongly influenced by the words we use, and I especially understand that repetition of an empty signifier can blind one to the fact that the signifier is in fact empty (i.e. has no signified). But language does not determine the categories in which we think. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is only half true.

        We should perhaps speak of “dissident linguistics” because dissidents must learn to speak a language in which they only half believe. Some of this is protective cover, since a man working behind enemy lines must speak the language of the enemy without an accent. Some of this is what St. Paul called being all things to all men. If you wish to bring people round to thinking in terms of the categories in which you think, you will have to meet those people where they are. And this means that you begin by speaking their language, however debased it may be. My understanding is that you worked as a missionary in China. I presume you spoke Chinese.

      • No, I’ve never been a missionary. Yes, I’ve spoken Mandarin most all of my life.

        I recall reading Whorf and others like him, who, it seemed to me even then, learned languages from the outside without getting to the inside, like explaining what dishes area like by analyzing cookbook recipes without ever tasting them.

        My emphasis is meaning. When the enterprise of academic life is truth-denied meaninglessness, it is no surprise that one who is devoted to the discovery of it thinks there is a need to compromise it, for the benefit of those who don’t get it. But the compromise itself is a signal that those who don’t get it are in fact right.

      • And, please, please consider that plug-in I suggested earlier that allows a writer to edit and to delete his own comment. These posts are of necessity written quickly on a cellphone, rather than over months with many drafts. I find that even though I proofread, I still don’t catch errors, like calling Stephen Mosher, Stephen Mother by mistake. But I can’t even edit that. It’s easy to install.

      • Kristor has the keys to the innards of this website, so he will have to install the plugin. There is often a delightful irony in our typos and spell-check miscorrections. Enough to suggest that God enjoys a joke.

      • Mr. Kuslan, though I see Prof. Smith’s point, I lean heavily your way. The rectification (and guarding) of names is important in maintaining clear thinking (i.e. we should try to resist Newspeak). I used “liberal” because M. Phous did, and I did so in the political, 19th century sense. I suspect that our interlocutor somewhat claims the mantle of liberalism (as the non- [/less?] possessed members of the contemporary American Left tend to do), but perhaps I misinterpreted his lines. I interpreted what he wrote as:

        “You are right and the liberal ideal of a productive clash of opinions is pretty dead [unfortunately]. Keep in mind though that it is intended [even by liberals] as a substitute for more violent forms of clashing.”

        I maybe misunderstood his sentences. Instead:

        “You are right and the liberal ideal of a productive clash of opinions is pretty dead [as it should be; for it was a damned stupid approach to dealing with enemies]. Keep in mind though that it is intended [by us latter day Amis de la liberté et de l’égalité] as a substitute for more violent forms of clashing [whither we’re headed . . . we’re just waiting until all the pieces are in place].”

      • @Joseph A: it has nothing to do with nihilism. Liberalism grew out of the ashes of the endless european wars, and strove to replace actual combat with intellectual combat. Factions debate in parliament to avoid physical combat in the streets.

        It’s not nihilism to recognize the reality of conflict and politics and debate. It might be nihilism to say that’s all there is, but I was not saying anything like that.

      • Thank you for responding. So, my initial interpretation of what you meant was right (A, not B), but I did not understand your thoughts behind those sentences. I did not consider the historical reasons for the rise of liberalism — “agreeing to disagree” . . . and managing that disagreement through (comparatively) peaceful, political activity.

        This is an interesting occasion that shows, I think, a fundamental difference in how our respective camps (roughly censused) see reason — an epiphenomenal human characteristic, useful for securing animal needs vs. man’s spiritual compass with an end in truth (or Truth).

        Some years ago, I would often mystify the law students on campus, only partially in jest, when I said that they were guilty of whoring out their reason . . . making her prostitute herself in unnatural ways, where she sought to win arguments instead of striving to return to her proper charge. But a liberal — someone somewhat (or fully) agnostic about the good — may see managing contracts, provisions, and policies as the noblest human acts . . . for they keep us from bloody savagery. On my end, I see shameless shysters who manipulate procedures and laws for the gain of their parties, but they understand themselves as the oil that keeps the engine of civilization running. Without them, we’d be back to inquisitions, civil wars, and torture.

        And so the wheel continues to turn, and as the liberal fades away, we are returning to inquisitions, street violence, and ritual witch burning (for now, only figurative). Fascinating.

      • @Joseph A

        This is an interesting occasion that shows, I think, a fundamental difference in how our respective camps (roughly censused) see reason — an epiphenomenal human characteristic, useful for securing animal needs vs. man’s spiritual compass with an end in truth (or Truth).

        Why can’t it be both? Lose the “ephiphenomenal” and replace “reason” with “language”. Language is used for all kinds of purposes: finding dinner, poetry, argument, advertising, propaganda, reasoning, searching for big-t Truth.

        Political language is a subset of language in general, but it often is driven by a mix of high and low purposes, and often serves to convince people that their low motives are actually high ones.

  7. Dear Orthosphereans,

    I offer this speech as a consolation, perhaps not a violet, or manure, but rather as the ground made fertile once the manure has settled and been dispatched:

    It will not persuade you the she has won. But it might persuade you the age will die, one way or another, eventually.

  8. We knew by providence before the beggining of time that evil would win. They win every dung hill and are the masters of all decayed things.

    This year’s dung and decay goes on my compost heap, and yesteryears dung feeds my living garden.

    The compost away from my living area stinks and always has. Where I sit and rest and read you can smell the violets (well, roses and lilacs, I don’t grow violets much).

  9. On the poetry of Hopkins (which I adore), likely you know that he was published but once, I believe, very early on in his life, and once rejected. His poetry was discovered after his death in his desk drawer and published only in 1918, I think it was, an edition I’d love to own. He wrote for himself, prayerfully, it seems and the meanings were clear to him and not intended for any ears but God’s. That’s said, much of what is passed off as poetry nowadays, but which isn’t poetry, is turgid and impenetrable. I recall a poetry editor of some one of these non-poetry reviews that claim to be poetry reviews saying, gee yes, most of the submissions he gets, he can’t figure out what they mean. Jackson Pollock in words. Just the same as avant-garde “art!”

    • Agreed. Hopkins has seemed to me always among the most immediately intelligible of the deeper latter day poets. One must work at it, of course. As always, with such minds. But I think Hopkins is right up there with St. John of the Cross. So I am utterly willing to work with his pullings of and pushings at and workings of English. They are after all nothing compared to those of Shakespeare.

      Like Herbert, Hopkins reminds me of Donne. All three men seem to me to have been writing mostly for and about their engagements with the Holy Spirit. They are not writing for us. They have not us in mind, at all. They are writing for, about, and to God.

      • Yes, make them work a bit at it and make it worthwhile for the reader to do so, I completely agree. I alluded to just this in essay on Beauty (the conversation with my friend). Just like Rosalind Russell who one evening in the late 20s or early 30s made an entrance in a play on stage to a loud audience. Hearing this state of affairs, she delivered her lines in a near whisper but with that rare dramatic ability to carry a whisper to the back of the house. The audience became very quiet, very fast! The had to work a bit to hear her. Makes the delivery that much more subtle and attractive.

    • I agree with John Darbyshire’s rule of poetry, which is that it must satisfy at least two out of three criteria: it rhymes, it scans, it makes sense. Much modern verse does none of these, although I very seldom read anything later than Eliot and am no doubt missing something. I big problem is that the people who write poetry nowadays are not my kind of people.


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