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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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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Star Trek Beyond

Enterprise Newest

Richard Cocks and I joined our friend Dick Fader earlier today to see Star Trek Beyond in the local Oswego cinema.  Richard and I are longtime inveterate Star Trek fans and Fader, as we call him, if not quite a fan, is at least an interested party who knows the history of the franchise.  The management screened Star Trek Beyond in the big auditorium, nowadays equipped with roomy lounge chairs, but in tilting them into a reclining position the movie-goer risks taking a nap.  It is a temptation to which I never yield.

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Knucklehead News

Some time ago Thomas Bertonneau invited Orthosphere readers to share examples of “subscendence,” by which he means the apotheosis of “culminant man.”  His object is, I believe, broadly similar to that of Ryan Landry’s running commentary on “Weimerica.”  If this spectacle of decadence is, for you, an engrossing topic, here are some trenchant and illuminating items. Continue reading

Custom, Fashion, Costume, Cosplay

Walking through the Financial District of San Francisco and taking in the tremendous diversity of dress and accoutrement there to be seen is a source of endless interest. After years of observation, I have developed a hypothesis about what a person’s dress indicates about his inner condition, to wit: any obvious design to appear abnormal indicates spiritual disease, a deep unhappiness of some sort – alienation, confusion, loneliness, perhaps despair – that has prompted a compensatory effort to attract attention, as it were almost a cry for help. Or, more succinctly: if you look as though you are trying to look a certain way, you feel you are failing to be what you would like to have been.

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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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The Modern Pox Upon the Old City

Western cities more than a century old all feature a stark contrast between their remaining old-fashioned neighborhoods and their horrid modern depravations of the builder’s art. In few however is the contrast as stark as in New Haven, Connecticut. Consider the view from two different windows of a single hotel room in that town, and choose one for yourself.

First, the view south over the post war cityscape:

2016-05-22 10.57.26

Note that grey monolith just left of the Ikea store. Up close, it is far and away the ugliest, most brutal building I have ever seen, literally breathtaking in its visceral affront to the human body. One aches to get away from it; the feeling it provokes is subdued rage. This is perhaps why it stands now vacant. The adjacent Ikea store is positively charming by contrast.

Modern New Haven is dispiriting – it engenders despair. Few pedestrians are to be seen on its barren sidewalks, scuttling quickly on their way, heads down.

Here then is the view to the north, taking in the Yale campus:

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Ontological Depth versus Improper Reduction

The specification string of a class can be finite. But the specification string of any actual is infinite (Rescher: “The number of true statements about any actual thing is infinite.”), for it must include specifications of its relations to all other things – and while the number of things is always definite, there is no upper bound to it. Thus a specification string such as we might derive from our scientific speculations and experiments can work to specify a class of things, but never any particular concrete thing.

When we reduce a thing to nothing but the mechanical operations of the natural laws that we have decided furnish a complete causal account for items of its type, then, we engage in improper reduction, even though these operations do indeed characterize it.

A particular cheetah is far, far more, and denser, and richer, than the class of cheetahs, or the string that completely specifies that class. So likewise with any actuality.

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Wm. Lewis on Lawrence Auster on Christian Vulnerability to Liberalism

In a comment here at the Orthosphere, Wm. Lewis quotes Lawrence Auster to great effect in responding to the claim made by some that Protestantism is the mother of Liberalism:

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Some commenters have observed, correctly, that formerly Protestant countries are in the vanguard of liberalism and its destruction of the West. This is due not to some defect within Protestantism; formerly Roman Catholic countries are also being destroyed by liberalism. We also see leaders within the Roman Catholic Church advancing liberal destruction (e.g., American bishops advocating open borders), so vulnerability to liberalism is unique neither to Protestantism nor to Roman Catholicism.

Whence this weakness to liberalism? Any number of factors could be cited, but one of the most important is the inherent risk, as Lawrence Auster put it, of Christian society: Continue reading