Naming the Enemy: Babel

It is important to name one’s enemies. Only thus may they be quite completely recognized for what they are, or therefore effectually fought. The reluctance of our chattering classes to name Islam an enemy of the West – as Islam has forthrightly declared herself to be – has forestalled our prosecution of her war against us. If we were able to muster the clarity of thought and vigor of will to name Islam our enemy, our war with her could be soon over (saving lots of Mohammedan lives), and everyone better off.

From my very first encounter with Moldbug’s appropriation of “cathedral” as a way of referring to our homegrown Modernist, Leftist and Materialist enemies of Truth, Virtue and Beauty as manifest in the West, it has irked me. Cathedrals are noble. They may be the very best, most beautiful thing man has ever done. It seems a literal profanation to apply our term for these gorgeous holy temples to one of the most ignoble, evil things man has ever done, a thing indeed demonic in its origins and supervision.

I would like to keep “cathedral” unsullied for good things – like cathedrals.

The term is by now however so widely known and used in our little corner of the web that it is unlikely anything anyone might say will dislodge it. I have for some time nevertheless been casting about for another term as pithy and trenchant, but more apt, that might have a shot.

It would have to be a single word, conveying both the established institutional aspect and control of the commanding cultural heights enjoyed by our demon-haunted adversaries, as well as the devilish nature of their lord. A single word with the many connotations evoked by “Cult of Moloch.”  “Cult of Moloch” was the best I had come up with. It’s accurate enough, for that cult involved regular and massive sacrificial immolations of first born children. But while “Cult of Moloch” is more evocative for those in the know than its ordinary equivalent, “culture of death,” both are too long. There is also the problem that most people don’t know Moloch from Adam.

“Leviathan” is good – short, not unfamiliar, catchy, connoting vast size and tremendous inertia – but it, too, usually requires some explanation, and anyway Hobbes has already put it to another, valuable use.

This evening, a fit candidate at last occurred to me: Babel.

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An Image for Our Time

Atlantic Abomination 01 (Art by Richard Powers)Edmund Alexander “Ed” Emshwiller (February 16, 1925 – July 27, 1990) was a commercial artist and illustrator and later, in the 1960s, an auteur of so-called experimental film.  He is notably identified with the science fiction genre, having contributed scores of covers to Galaxy magazine, and other similar periodicals, in the 1950s and 60s.  Emshwiller’s illustrations also graced many a paperback cover, as in the case of the Ace paperback edition of John Brunner’s Atlantic Abomination.  I have posted Emshwiller’s Abomination (so to speak) previously at The Orthosphere.  It is time to display it again.  Emshwiller’s painting instantiates the possibilities that lay within the popular and commercial genres of art in the middle of the last century.  It is a powerful image with many resonances in the archives of painting and drawing, which, to my mind, speaks deeply to our condition.

I invite commentary on Emshwiller’s image, or indeed on Brunner’s story, his lone foray into H. P. Lovecraft territory, should anyone have read it.

P.S. I call dibs on any That-Woman interpretation of the image.

A Thousand Essays

The Orthosphere yesterday reached 1,000 posts since we began writing here in early 2012. Meaningless in itself, this passage nevertheless marks a milestone. It is fitting then to reflect on how well we have met our original purpose, of providing a traditional, orthodox Christian perspective on the maelstrom ever in progress here on Earth.

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Anarcho-Tyranny → Monarcho-Liberty

There is always an oligarchy, whether or not it is explicit. Where there is no recognized aristocracy – where, i.e., there is a liberal political order – oligarchic society inevitably devolves sooner or later to anarcho-tyranny.

Liberalism is founded upon two fundamental principles: Equality and Liberty. The former implies the latter. If all men are equal, then no man is suited either by nature or historical happenstance, nor therefore is he legitimately entitled, to exercise authoritative sway over his fellows, so as at all to constrain their liberty. If all men are equal simpliciter, then all men are free equally and perfectly, and none may rightly rule.

But of course, Liberty and Equality are contradictory. You can’t have both. The only way to let men be free is to let them be unequal. The only way to make men equal then is to eliminate their liberty, so as to make them all the same. To make all men equally free – which is to say, equally powerful – is to institute anarchy; and the only way to do it is by tyranny. Thus, our current state: anarcho-tyranny.

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More on Subscendence

Monkeys-typing-Shakespeare

It is a well-known implication of Darwinian evolutionary theory that one thousand monkeys, furnished with as many word-processing devices, and ensconced both gratis and in perpetuum in a mid-priced traveler’s hotel such as the Marriott Suites, would, by their inveterate although quite random keyboard activity, eventually produce either –

1. Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged; or –

2. The generic mission-statement of any graduate-level “studies” program at any state-supported consolation-university in North America.

I place my bet on Atlas Shrugged, but in my circle of intimate friends, to whose wisdom I defer, the majority of opinion favors the generic mission-statement.  A consolation-university, by the way, is any state-supported, doctorate-granting institution of higher education that is not, for example, Ann Arbor or Berkeley.  Let us say that Michigan State and UC Irvine are paradigms of the consolation-university.  (Not that I hold any brief for Ann Arbor or Berkeley.  My consolation-university was UCLA.)

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A Lamp That Shall Be Put Out

Whosoever curseth his father or his mother                                                 His lamp shall be put out in deep darkness

Proverbs 20: 20

This past December I was standing outside a Louisiana filling station, waiting for my children to do what children do at filling stations on a long drive.  To pass the time, I idly read the portion of the first page of the Times Picayune that was visible through the window of the newspaper dispenser.  This included a headline announcing the New Orleans City Council decision to remove four Confederate monuments from prominent places in that city, an act in line with the flurry of iconoclasm that had been roiling the South since the Charleston shootings earlier that year.  Continue reading

Sucker Punches and Conservative Intransigence

I recently had a written exchange on political divisions in my academic subfield.  My correspondent was, by the standards of the subfield, a moderate.  By the standards of the contemporary United States, center left.  By the standards of historical humanity, or even educated opinion of the past century, completely barking at the moon.  Party-line hard Left with a vengeance just about sums it up. Continue reading

Roger Scruton

Moreover, howsoever you build your career, one thing will be certain, you are ‘on the left’ politically, vindicated by all the righteous causes (whatever they might be) [I love that bit] of the day, and therefore immune from serious criticism. Your academic discourse is really play, self-expression, jouissance. What matters is where you stand, and in this you are impeccably correct, secure in your academic entitlement, and a worthy recipient of taxes paid by the bourgeoisie.

Roger Scruton, Fools, Frauds and Firebrands. p. 196

The Parisian nonsense machine [Althusser, Lacan, Deleuze] was used to mount a ballistic assault on the bourgeois culture, throwing dense blocks of impenetrable Newspeak over the battlements into the public square of the beseiged city. The effect was to destroy the conversation in which civil society depends. All delicate ideas concerning law, constitution and the roots of civil order, all the ways in which human beings argue over rights and duties, honor their opponents and seek for compromise, were flattened by mathemes, ‘deterritorialized’ and buried beneath the debris of the great Event. This was the turning point in a battle that has now been raging for a century – the battle to take possession of the culture, by defining the intellectual life as an exclusively left-wing preserve.

Roger Scruton, Ibid, p. 197

Alan Sokal’s efforts via the post-modern generator fail to get literary journals to close up shop because something’s being nonsense is beside the point. Of course the editors can’t tell the difference between sincere nonsense and satirical nonsense. How can you parody something that is itself a parody of thought?

An Open Letter to Pope Francis

A guest post by Mark Citadel:

Your Holiness:

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.

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