Proposing a Casual Seminar

Richard Cocks and I have proposed to ourselves a summer reading project on the linked topics of aesthetics and kallistics.  We would like to invite interested parties to join us, if they like.  The reading-list consists of four items chosen because of their germaneness to the two topics, but also because they are relatively short and mainly accessible to non-specialists, such as the two of us.  I give these four titles in the order in which we propose to read them. –

W. F. Hegel: Lectures on Aesthetics (1818)

 Plotinus: On Intellectual Beauty (circa 250 AD)

 Friedrich Schiller: Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man (1794)

 Plotinus: On the Three Initial Hypostases (circa 250 AD)

The curriculum is plastic.  Richard and I will plan to have read Hegel’s Lectures by the middle of June.  We will write up a short summary of our discussion to be posted at The Orthosphere, with an invitation to comment.  We will plan to have read Plotinus’ On Intellectual Beauty by the end of June, and so on, encompassing Schiller’s Letters and Plotinus’ On the Three Initial Hypostases, which is, notwithstanding its odd-sounding name, also concerned with beauty.

It strikes both Richard and me that beauty is central to the Traditional view of “life, the universe, and everything.”  It strikes us both that beauty is increasingly under attack in the postmodern dispensation, which either denies its existence or declares it to belong to the institutions of oppression.  We believe therefore that a concerted introductory study of aesthetics and kallistics will be useful to those who participate, especially insofar as it results in a better understanding of beauty as an objective and integral element or character in the order of being and the structure of reality.

The titles given above in bold green typescript are links to online versions of the four items.  I will be reading Hegel and Schiller in the convenient Penguin editions (in English translation); Richard will probably be reading Plotinus, as will I, again in the Penguin edition of the Enneads, in the translation by Stephen McKenna and B.S. Page.  The Penguin edition, while no longer in print, is easily available in second-hand copies.

 

Will California Follow Atlantis?

Apocalyptic LA 03

The Implacability of the Karmic Law

Lewis Spence (1874 – 1955) published his prophetic account Will Europe Follow Atlantis in 1943 at the nadir of Allied fortunes during the Second World War.  Spence, beginning as a journalist and folklorist, had made an enduring reputation by the early 1920s as a major authority on myth and legend, certifying his knowledge of those subjects in numerous books on the ancient stories of the Celts, the Rhineland Germans, the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians, and the Mesoamericans.  These extremely useful compendia remain in print.  In 1924, however, Spence issued a book that gained him notoriety for a different although related reason.

This book in question was The Problem of Atlantis, a study of Plato’s Atlantis Myth in its twin sources, the dialogues Timaeus and Critias, of related stories in myth and folklore, and, with a survey of geology and ethnology, of the plausibility in Plato’s account.  In The Problem of Atlantis, Spence, in jazz terminology, played it cool.  While arguing for a factual basis of the narrative in the Platonic texts, Spence avoided the occult vision of Atlantis as a prehistoric Utopia founded on lost sciences and technologies.  He insisted on sober evaluation of the evidence, arriving at the conclusion that Atlantis had existed, as Plato wrote, in the oceanic gap between Western Europe and North America; that it was, prior to its submergence, a High Stone Age, what modern commentators would call an Upper Neolithic, society; and that, during a prolonged breakup of its landmass requiring many centuries, its inhabitants migrated via North Africa and Iberia to Europe’s Atlantic littoral areas and the British Isles.  Ensconced in those new bases, they did their best to preserve their traditions and codify the knowledge of their origin.  The fleeing Atlanteans, whom Spence calls Aurignacians, and whom he identifies with the Cro-Magnons, also crossed the ocean in the other direction, contributing to the cultural matrix of the emerging societies in North and South America.  Spence’s argument about Atlantis was a radical version of a then-current anthropological theory known as dissemination or cultural radiation, which posited a monogenesis for human culture.

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Russians Wickedly Affirm their Russianness while Plotting Our Destruction

It is sometimes not only advisable, but necessary, to avert one’s attention from the ugly violation of forms in the political arena — from the frowning formlessness of doctrinaire fanaticism — so as to take in things actually beautiful and therefore supremely real.  “Smuglyanka Moldavanka” (“Smiling Moldavian Girl”) is a soldier-song from World War Two that has become something like a folksong because it is actually beautiful and therefore supremely real.  Now “flash mobs” are a consequence of our burgeoning communications technology and can manifest themselves obnoxiously in crowds of what in journalese are invariably called “youths.”  They can also approximate to the spontaneity of art, which happens to be the result in the video-clip above.

Below, also purely for enjoyment, is another Russian “flash-mob,” this one singing the well-known song “Kalinka” (“Little Red Berry” — not a reference to Barack Hussein Obama), originally composed for a Russian Vaudeville in the 1860s.  Watch what happens when store security shows up – and be prepared to smile, like the Moldavian brunette.  Notice that little red berries are conspicuously on sale in the middle of the produce section.

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Femmesplaining in the Second Reality

“When gnostic experience is consolidated, the social raw material is ready for existential representation by a leader.  [….]  Such people will prefer each other’s company to that of the rest of the world, they will voluntarily accept counsel and direction from indoctrinators, they will neglect their own affairs, and they will extend generous material aid to the leaders of the movement.  An especially important function in formation of such societies will have women, because they are weak in judgment, emotionally more accessible, tactically well placed to influence husbands, children, servants, and friends, more inclined than men to serve as a kind of intelligence officer concerning the state of affections in their circle, and more liberal in financial aid.

“Once a social environment of this type is organized, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to break it up by persuasion.  […]  They are impermeable to argument and have their answers well drilled.  […]  In brief: The attitude is psychologically iron-clad and beyond shaking by argument.”

For the Gnostic: “Social evils cannot be reformed by legislation; defects of government machinery cannot be repaired by changes of the constitution; differences of opinion cannot be settled by compromise. ‘This world’ is darkness that must give way to the new light. Hence coalition governments are impossible.  The political figures of the old order cannot be re-elected in the new world; and the men who are not members of the movement will be deprived of their right to vote in the new order.”

Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics (1952), Chapter 5, “Gnostic Revolution”

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“You’re Fired!”: Trump Fires Obama (And Bill Ayres, and Possibly George Soros)

“You’re Fired!”: It is now clear that James Comey was the chief Obama-hangover and Soros-seditionist in the Post-Obama federal government — a mole doing Obama’s bidding (that is to say, Bill Ayre’s bidding and George Soros’ bidding) in the aftermath of Hillary Clinton’s humiliating defeat in November.  Trump’s move was not only morally and governance-wise justified; it was symbolically brilliant: Comey received notification of his firing via a hand-delivered message during his speech before an FBI “diversity and recruiting” seminar in California, as I understand it.  The best way to drain the swamp is to let the swamp know that it is being drained while it is making a narcissistic swamp-speech in another swamp.

And while Trump was firing Comey, he was conversing in a friendly way with the Russian ambassador! 

I am currently reconciled to President Trump.  A friend of mine, who voted for Hillary, has come over the the Dark Side and is now in favor of President Trump.

Now Fire the Whiners

According to Politico 

The news of FBI director James Comey’s firing struck like a thunderclap at field offices around the country, where agents heard first from TV or the internet that their boss had been dismissed by President Donald J. Trump.

“I’m literally in tears right now. That’s all I have to say,” said a longtime special agent who’s known and worked with Comey for years, who first heard the news on the car radio.

I say: Please, Mr. President, fire that tear-eyed “special agent.”  Fire all tear-eyed agents of whatever sort.  The polity needs weepy G-men about as much as the Marine Corps needs interpretive jazz dancers.

Truth versus the Crowd in the Work of René Girard

Girard Excellent Photo-Portrait

Born in Avignon in 1923, the late René Girard (deceased 2015) trained in Paris during the German occupation of France as a specialist curator of medieval documents; beginning in 1949 he taught in the USA as a professor-generalist in history. He would eventually arrive at a fundamental insight regarding human nature that puts him on the level with the most profound anthropological thinkers in the Western or any other tradition. The road to this insight reached across a decade and required a change of scholarly interest. Girard first made his name, after switching his scholarly focus and obtaining a doctorate in French Literature at Indiana University in 1958, as a literary critic, with his study of vanity and resentment in prose narrative called, in French, Mensonge Romantique et Vérité Romanesque (1962). Deceit Desire & the Novel studies the authorial obsession with the genesis of misery in the tendency of the human subject to acquire his desires from what he takes to be the desire, or object-of-desire, of another person. Novelistic protagonists indeed imagine that absolute being, seemingly denied to them, resides embodied in the other person so that the subject wants and attempts to become that other person. Girard had discovered in the novelists the non-originality of desire. He had also discovered—or rather, the novelists had discovered—a complex psychology and a related oblique rhetoric, the Mensonge Romantique or “Romantic Lie” of the French original, that systematically deny this non-originality of desire and claim the complete, yet miserable, sufficiency of the ego. Even more simply, Girard had discovered the centrality of mimesis or “imitation” in psychology and culture.

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They Already Take Our Children

Here’s another thought, Bonald.  They don’t yet take our newborns, but they already take our children.  It calls itself public education and its main result is a massively uneducated public. So that it doesn’t come to their taking our babies, I propose some proactive steps.

We need a Constitutional amendment that states, Congress shall pass no law concerning the establishment of education; and neither shall the legislature of any state or municipality pass any similar law.  A concomitant statutory law would state: It is legal for any citizen to provide education, either for a fee or charitably.   This would have the effect of abolishing public education while at the same time organizing the market to sort out who is or is not a teacher. These steps would greatly reduce the alienation of children from their families in their formative years.

I would favor another statute at the Federal level making it illegal for colleges and universities to domicile students.  Students who wanted or needed domiciliary arrangements while attending college or university would have to seek them in the private sector.  This would have several beneficial effects. It would greatly reduce the captive-audience phenomenon that abets indoctrination.  It would motivate fee-payers shopping for institutions to which to send those of their children who merited higher education to highlight the criterion of proximity over the criterion of status or prestige. It would therefore encourage people to send their children to nearby colleges, to and from which it would be possible to commute.  No group of people in our society has a greater need, in my estimation, of continuous contact with home and family than the undergraduate population of our colleges and universities.

My first Constitutional amendment would probably disestablish state colleges and universities. That would be good, too.

(Bonald, I first entered this as a comment in your latest thread, but on consideration it seemed too off-topic.)

Gustav Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony

Mahler-Klemperer S2 Album Cover

Introduction. Readers of The Orthosphere might approach the following essay as though it were an addition to a suite of music-appreciation essays that I have posted at this website.  Previously at The Orthosphere, I have commented on the music of Ernest Bloch (1880 – 1959), Eduard Tubin (1905 – 1982), Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 – 1958), and Howard Hanson (1896 – 1981).  Gustav Mahler (1860 – 1911) is by far a more important composer than any of those four despite the fact that each is a splendid and wonderful composer in his own way.  I have reason to believe that once, during his sojourn in New York State and on his way to Niagara Falls with his wife, Mahler passed through the small town on Lake Ontario where, in my exile from my native California, I have lived since the fall of the fateful year 2001.  A fair number of Mahler acquaintances made their way to California in the 1930s.  I knew musical people in California who had known Mahler – or who had known Mahler’s wife or daughter.  I knew others who, like me, had come powerfully under the spell of Mahler, whose influence may be heard in certain landmark film-scores, like those, for example, of Eric Korngold.  For me, Mahler has been a presence, immediate and personal, since my late teens, when I began to make my acquaintance with his extraordinary symphonies on record.  That was the heyday , at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, of the long-playing vinyl album.  Usually, the album came with extensive, small-type notes on the reverse of the cover or with a booklet inside the sleeve that was even more detailed than the back-of-the-sleeve essay.

It was possible in Los Angeles in the early 1970s to purchase “boxed sets” of the Mahler symphonies in the so-called Vox Box series – vintage (usually monophonic) recordings offered in three-disc sets for about a dollar per disc.  I probably first heard the “Resurrection” Symphony (Symphony No. 2, begun in the late 1880s and finished in the early 1890s) in one of the many recordings of that work made by Otto Klemperer, a Mahler-acolyte and noteworthy itinerant conductor, who became especially associated with Mahler’s “Resurrection.”

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