In case my tendency to allude to the classroom might strike anyone as tedious or repetitive, I offer an apology in advance and invite the uninterested to skip the following. The classroom is nevertheless a consistently renewed sample of the contemporary cohorts as they advance up the ladder of what remains of actual social initiation hoping to join the ranks of the accredited when testing the job market for the first time as prospective adults. In my classroom, a mid-tier state-college classroom, I therefore have the opportunity (and I take it) to observe the diminishing returns of the near-criminal enterprise of North America’s public primary and secondary instruction, especially where it concerns the inculcation of literacy of both the strict and cultural varieties.
In the just-completed semester, my department chair had asked me, as she regularly does, to supervise the graduate-level “Business in Literature” course that English teaches at the behest of and as a favor to the School of Business’s five-year accountancy program. I like teaching this course because over the years the five-year accountancy students have demonstrated themselves to be cooperative and disciplined in degree sufficient to distinguish them from the general run of students. In any given semester, I ask the students to read a short anthropological study – The Gift (1925) by Marcel Mauss – and three or four novels that take as their setting a recognizably “business” milieu. This semester’s syllabus obliged the enrollment to read the two “Vinland” sagas, The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885) by William Dean Howells, Tono-Bungay (1909) by H. G. Wells, and The Paradise of Women (1883) by Emile Zola, the last the basis of two recent television serials and a forgotten French sound-film from 1932. As a means of putting moral pressure on students to complete the reading, I require them to turn in reading-notes, documenting in detail their progress through the chapters, on a regular basis. I am fairly certain that most of the accountancy enrollment in the just-completed semester did ninety percent of the reading. (By contrast, in most of my classes, I would estimate that only sixty per cent of students do as much as sixty per cent of the reading.)
Modernist architecture’s rejection of ornament is understandable. The Modernists had no idea what any of it meant. So it seemed stupid to them. So they excised it.
Ditto for all traditional forms. These were all meaningless to the Modernists. So they rejected them, root and branch. In this, they were aided by developments in the economics and technology of building. But the impoverishment of modern architecture was spiritual before it was material.
*Everything* is spiritual before it is material.
In traditional architecture, ornaments all signify. They all have meanings, and those meanings all terminate ultimately (albeit generally by way of a chain of connotations and denotations) upon the Ultimate and our proper relation to him.
The coinage subscendence is modeled after the standing term transcendence and is intended to be the antonym of transcendence. The verbal form would be to subscend; the adjectival form would be subscendent. The High Middle Ages – expressing themselves in Gothic architecture, in polyphony, and in spiritually heroic narratives such as the Grail sagas and the Divine Comedy – properly deserve to be called transcendent. The current phase of Modernity – expressing itself in the cinder-block architecture of the strip mall, in amplified beat-based “pop” tunes, and in crude cinematic narratives of sex and violence – properly deserves to be called subscendent.
If abortion is murder, then to procure the services of an abortionist is to hire a hit man. It is to take out a contract on another human life. Who signs such contracts, or pays for them, is then as much a murderer as the knife man who does the cutting.
I write to you as an outsider. A sincere Roman Catholic might not write such a letter out of his admirable respect for the Papacy, and a letter written by a non-Christian might mean little to you. And so it falls to me to say what must be said. I want to start by saying that we of the Eastern Orthodox tradition consider ourselves to practice our faith in the character of the earliest Christians, and though it might seem arrogant, we hold that through tired eyes Orthodoxy has witnessed many great tragedies; the Diocletian Persecutions, the fall of Constantinople, the abduction of thousands of Serb boys and Greek girls to serve as Janissaries and courtesans, and of course the scourge of Bolshevism that cloaked the entire East in poverty and despair for almost a century. Though you consider us schismatics, I would hope that you do not think us fools, and your cordial relations with His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew I, as well as your historic meeting with His Beatitude Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Rus, leaves me with hope that you will consider this carefully.
…is teach basic truths. You don’t have to be esoteric, profound, edgy, or popular. You just have to teach important truths.
We live in a time of universal destruction. Intellectual destruction. Cultural destruction. Moral destruction. Religious destruction. And so on. The noblest thing a blogger not in thrall to the liberal zeitgeist can do is teach important truths. Because man needs truth.
That way you can sleep well at night and keep your head high during the day.
The world’s elite recently wrapped up its annual conference in Davos. To commemorate the event, they released 36 quotable quotes in meme form. You can find them here. Incredibly, this is what the masters of the universe want us to think of them. As hard as it is to choose a favorite, I think this is mine:
Two of three parts of my essay on “Lewis Spence, True Myth, and Modernity” have appeared at Angel Millar’s People of Shambhala website. Part I is “The Atlantis Myth – Its Pedigree.” Part II is “Will Europe Follow Atlantis?” Part III, “The Table Round of Atlantean Eccentrics,” will appear next Saturday. The essay explores Scotsman Lewis Spence’s lifelong meditation on the meaning and probability of Plato’s Atlantis Myth.
Spence resembles William Blake, William Butler Yeats, perhaps even Arnold Toynbee, a bit staid in style but hardly so in content, in his visionary proclivity to see local events in the largest possible context, as participating in the cycles of a Platonic Great Year, or something like it; and as boasting always and everywhere a metaphysical-eternal as well as a physical-temporal meaning. So too Spence resembles Joseph de Maistre on the French Revolution, who grasped the Jacobin uprising as an ultimately self-punishing recrudescence of idolatry and human sacrifice, as both insufferable profanation and sanguine atonement all at once. Spence, who referred to himself as a ‘British traditionalist,’ prefigures later Traditionalist figures like John Michell (1933 – 2009) and Geoffrey Ashe (born 1923), whose thought goes perpendicular to anything established. Michell’s View over Atlantis (1969) and Ashe’s Camelot and the Vision of Albion (1975) follow in the eccentric path first trail-blazed by Spence. Their eccentricity – and Spence’s – likens itself to the fortuitous topography of the Nile Delta according to the Egyptian priests in Plato’s Timaeus, sheltering the adytum of insight-in-eccentricity from the deluge of opinion in conformity. The discussion must return to this topic of eccentricity, closely related as it is to the opposition of myth and poetry to economics, and to the much-underrated value of eccentric people and their views under a conformist regime; but for the time being let Spence’s marvelous tome be to the fore.
PS. I would like to thank the thoughtful and charitable party who sent me the set of beer-mug coasters. Any other gift that I might receive during the Christmas Season will pale, I fear, next to them.
According to the current Leftist narrative, everything evil in the world is the fault of white Christian men, for this world is the world that such men built and have maintained. If this is true, then either white Christian men are just that much better than every other sort of human, and therefore in justice *ought* to rule the planet, or else they are the only sort of men who have free agency, ergo any real power. Notice that the second alternative is just the most extreme version of the first: if white Christian men are the only sort with real agency, then they are categorically superior to all others, who are their pawns and puppets, whom they have always ruled, and will always rule, despite appearances to the contrary.
I remarked the other day that for all practical purposes Islam cannot any longer attack the West except by attacking liberal institutions; for, the institutions of the West are all liberal.
But the same is of course true for liberals themselves. The only way they can attack the Establishment is by attacking liberals, because the Establishment is pervasively liberal. There are no right wing institutions out there, other than a few think tanks and magazines that don’t have budgets for the sorts of jobs that liberals are fit to do, with the result that few liberals infest their offices.
Who now is the Left attacking, and destroying? The Progressives who run the universities. Schadenfreude ain’t in it.