God Weighs In re Virtue Signalling

The virtue of virtue is humility; for, all the virtues derive from a prior proper recollection of the true order of things, in which God is foremost of all. Overweening pride then – such as we indulge whenever we worry about our selves, or their reputations, or form our acts first in respect thereto – is the vice of vice.

As to the ostention of virtue, then:

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

Matthew 6:1-4

Humility is social chastity. Humility lies not in a recusal from the assertion of the truth as one sees it, but rather in a refusal to preen.

Also this: alms that cost you nothing are not alms in the first place.

The Basic Liberal Conceit

The liberal conceit is that no man labors under any natural ontological requirement that he should submit to some authority, and so nor therefore can there be any legitimate authority; ergo, it is wrong, as unjust, to exert or submit to any authority, and eo ipso good to transgress against authority of every sort, and to undermine it.

The propositions in the foregoing can be rearranged ad libitum, without undermining their joint agreement or their moral effect – or their morbid consequences in human lives.

Reality being what it is, that liberal conceit tends in action always to the centralization of all power in a tyrannical … *authority,* against whom no liberal man may – or can – stand.

What is that obdurate reality? It is that, no man being he than whom no greater can be conceived, then every man is less than some other – whether an other man, or an other institution, or an other god. So the liberal who prides himself (the word is chosen advisedly) that he is himself the sole master of his fate is in fact willy nilly the servant or slave of some master far greater than he, whose existence he may not even suspect, but whose dictates he witlessly obeys.

This perhaps accounts for the spooky unanimity of our divers disparate adversaries, who all as one of an evening begin using some new phrase or proposing some new crisis or solution – or demonizing and scapegoating the victim of the hour, subjecting him to the two minute hate that destroys his life. They are of one mind because they serve one mind.

Whether you know it or not, you serve a lord. Better then for you to know who he is, and decide witly whether he is worthy of your fealty.

On the Memetic Success of Modernism

Modernism appears pretty consistently in minds as an amalgam of several philosophical notions: positivism, materialism, physicalism, nominalism, liberalism, moral and aesthetic relativism, and atheism. There may be others. If you come across a man who credits one of them, it is a pretty good bet that he credits all the others, too.

It is interesting that, on any one of those notions, there can be no such thing as moral culpability. Modernism then looks like a retreat from morality, and so from responsibility, on every philosophical front. Implicitly, modernism makes shame and guilt inapposite to reality. Shame and guilt are painful feelings, and it is pleasant to get out from under them, via the conviction that they simply don’t pertain to anything – particularly oneself, or one’s acts. That is why modernism is tempting; this might account for its memetic success.

Modernist Elite Belief is a Reliable Contraindicator

Apart from the obviously incontrovertible stuff like sunrise, whatever the Modern Elite believe is true is almost certainly in fact false. Whatever they think is good is almost certainly in fact bad. This has been true since about a decade after the dawn of the television age.

When this realization first struck me, my first interpretation was to treat it as generational: whatever the Boomers thought was true and good back in 1972 was actually false or bad or both. But then I realized that the Boomers were right about a few things, like organic food, fitness, diversity of seed stock, and traditional buildings and neighbourhoods. And Early Music.

It wasn’t the Boomers. It was the elites, whether of the Boomer generation, or earlier generations, or later. Whatever the elites have ever advocated via the Establishment Propaganda Machine: it’s all been fake. And none of the really absurd stuff they’ve been pushing at us would have been entertained for a moment by almost anyone prior to the television. People had back then too much contact with real reality – as opposed to the artificial stuff the elites broadcast.

The toxic brew seems to consist of modernism and electronic media: crank nominalist insouciance about stubborn truth through an electronic media economy that is desperate to attract eyeballs, and you get all sorts of crazy stuff pumped out of the screens. That suffices to generate fads and fashions at odds with reality: with health, and sanity, and life.

Beauty is Salutary, Ugliness Noxious

My wife and I are enjoying a short vacation with my in-laws in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It is a lovely place, rendered sublime along the western edge of the valley by the unearthly majesty of the Grand Tetons. The Tetons seem to the eye of this experienced outdoorsman one of those sublime landscapes in which natural beauty is so intense as to verge on numinous sanctity (other such places I have sojourned: Grand Canyon, Yosemite Valley, the Snæfellsjökull Peninsula in Iceland). Such places command awe, and foster an inward hush.

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Superstition & Subscendence: An Essay in Honor of Tom Bertonneau

Bear with me here. I hardly know where I am going with this, although I feel I have caught the spoor of something Tom would find delightful – that he would join with me joyfully in this new hunt. I’m confused because all I have is that spoor, and my spirits are in a hurry and a muddle due to his too soon death. I miss my friend of many years – of too few! I am not yet sure how to do with the world that, henceforth, shall miss him.

Tom has been a valued colleague since we first encountered each other. We corresponded often – not often enough, alas – about our hopes and worries in respect to our work, much of it coordinate here. We sometimes asked each other for editorial advice upon that work. I could rely on Tom for sound counsel. I hardly know how I shall manage without his sagacity.

But I must. I bid you all help me in that project, in which we may hope we can all together proceed for many more years to come. That would be a fitting legacy of his penetrant honest cheerful mind.

I propose that this essay be an early installment in something like a festschrift for Tom. Let us all try to limn what it was that he taught us. Perhaps we might make a book out of it. Or maybe just something on the scale of an issue of Amazing Stories, circa 1935: the sort of thing that was an important source of grist for the mill of his wits. That would please him, perhaps above all things we might do to honor him.

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On Conflation of Grammatical Persons as a Tactic of Our Enemy

I harp from time to time on the first and crucial importance of linguistic tradition, as the indispensable foundation of almost all others. We cannot very well maintain a social order if in discussing it we have no way to be each and all clear on what it is, exactly, we are talking about.

This is no original thought. Confucius was saying the same thing 2500 years ago. And Orwell saw clearly that deforming the language would deform – and ruin – culture.

The Leftist Establishment is hard at the ruin of language, with the recent risible emphasis on pronoun protocol.

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Traditionalism is the Reductio of Modernity

The tradition of modernity is to repudiate tradition per se. It’s right there in the term: ‘modern’ is from Late Latin modernus, from Latin modo, “just now.” So ‘modern’ means “what is just now.”

Traditionalists take the modern tradition with utmost seriousness, thoroughness, and consistency: they repudiate the tradition of modernity.

Traditionalists are the iconoclasts of iconoclasm. So likewise are they then the true postmodernists. In their hearts and in their minds, and so far as is possible in their acts, they live into whatever it is that shall inevitably ensue, once modernity has finished eating itself, and collapsed; once the people have awakened and shaken it off like a nightmare or Soviet Communism.

Traditionalists are ransacking the cupboards on the morning after Belshazzar’s Feast, looking for the coffee as the sour dregs of the Party lapse into biliary nausea, bitter existential regret, and alcoholic coma, and as the Persians begin to assemble their siege engines.

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Bostonians

Bostonians

This post is prompted by a remark made by Kristor under his recent item The Orthosphere Has Begun to SucceedResponding to a commenter, Kristor writes:

Your mention of Massachusetts nails it. The high minded poison in North America has flowed ever from the banks of the Charles River, and it goes back at least as far as Emerson. Or – of much greater relevance these days – to Salem. I say so despite my profound respect for Emerson, and deep as his insights truly were. Ditto for Whitman and Thoreau, and indeed for all the Bostonians. You can’t become as influential as they if you are spouting sheer shouting nonsense.

Henry James wrote a novel called The Bostonians (1886). James saw Boston in much the same ways Kristor sees it. In his novel he explores the genetic relation of feminism, lesbianism, spiritism, and a degraded transcendentalism. Back in 1995 (it seems like forever ago) I published an article in Anthropoetics, one of the first online scholarly journals, on The Bostonians. That article may be accessed here. Camille Paglia once characterized The Bostonians as the only James novel with a truly manly protagonist. Basil Ransom is his name, a Confederate veteran. He visits Boston to see his cousin Olive Chancellor, who has glombed on to a teenage girl, Verena Tarrant, who is a rising star in the Boston séance circuit.  James brilliantly illustrates through his narrative the intimate intermixture of “progressive” politics, the flim-flam of spiritism,  and sexual degeneracy. Olive takes in Verena, obviously wanting to groom her to be her partner in life. I won’t spoil the plot for someone who wants to read the novel, but I indeed recommend reading it.

At one point, Verena is supposed to appear before a crowd in a large auditorium; but she is late. Here is a passage from James:

It had become densely numerous, and, suffused with the evenly distributed gaslight, which fell from a great elevation, and the thick atmosphere that hangs forever in such places, it appeared to pile itself high and to look dimly expectant and formidable. He had a throb of uneasiness at his private purpose of balking it of its entertainment, its victim–a glimpse of the ferocity that lurks in a disappointed mob.