Mortified by the New Necromancy

If you wish to make a man do something that he does not wish to do, you must proceed in one of three ways. You may threaten to do him harm, you may promise to do him good, or you may persuade him that he is under some sort of “moral obligation” to do what you wish him to do. These might be called the three roads to power, power being “the possibility of imposing one’s will on the behavior of other people” (1). For simplicity’s sake, I will call these the Minatory Road, the Remuneration Road, and the Mortification Road. Continue reading

The Crevasse at the Center of Things

I recently conducted a “classroom observation” of a colleague. This involves taking a seat in the back row, with the students who are streaming Netflix and, perhaps, passing a flask, and then “observing” the fellow at the lectern for an hour or so. It’s not entirely clear what one is supposed to be on the lookout for, but my policy is to make sure that he doesn’t expose himself, tell off-color jokes, or forget to show up. Within those limits, I figure it’s his class. Continue reading

“Classical Liberalism” is a Myth

American conservatives are wont to say that the word “liberal” at one time denoted a person who believed in free markets and limited government, and that the word has only recently been twisted to mean a person who believes in free love and big government. This is false, so far as the United States is concerned, and results from conflation of the history of Europe and the United States. Continue reading

Dread, Love and Disgust

Sentiments are at the root of all politics, and consequently at the root of all political divisions. Vast labor is expended to bury this fact under mountains of rebarbative reasoning, but a very little honest reflection will excavate the truth that politics begins in the heart.   In the heart of the Right, dread, love and disgust are the essential and defining sentiments. This is not to say that these sentiments are absent on the Left, only that they are neither essential nor defining.

The Right is a decidedly motley assembly of people who, in one fashion or another, oppose, deplore or dislike the Revolution. The Revolution comprises all those changes in which modernization has turned the old order on its head. The Right does not oppose, deplore or dislike every change that has taken place since the seventeenth century, only the radical innovations and satanic transvaluations that cause modernists to boast of a novus ordo seclorum. Continue reading

Article of Possible Interest: Will California Follow Atlantis?

My follow-up article to “Will Europe Follow Atlantis?” appears at The People of Shambhala website under the title “Will California Follow Atlantis?  How Likely? How Soon?”

It is accessible here: http://peopleofshambhala.com/will-california-follow-atlantis-how-likely-how-soon/

I offer an excerpt:

Poet, story-writer, painter, sculptor, farmer, handyman, correspondent of H. P. Lovecraft, and lifelong resident of Auburn, California, Clark Ashton Smith (1893 – 1961) was perhaps destined to participate in the tradition of Atlantean and Lemurian lore by the fact that his father’s given name was Timeus, no less. Where [Lewis] Spence treats the topics of Atlantis and Lemuria as tragic myth and [W. S.] Cervé as Utopian narrative, Smith treats it as a combination of Swiftian satire… and Baudelairean poetic apocalypse. Smith indeed began his authorial career as the writer of exquisite lyric poetry consciously and studiously modeled after the poetry of Charles Baudelaire, a Catholic reactionary who refused to participate in the euphoria of Progress. Smith gained a wider audience, however, when, to eke out his living during the Great Depression, he began to submit stories to Weird Tales, a “pulp” monthly specializing in lurid exploitations of horrific and supernatural themes. A great many of Smith’s stories have their setting in one or another disintegrating continent, all of which are home to a variety of baroquely corrupt civilizations. Hyperborea and Poseidonis belong in the remote past, but Smith places Zothique in the far future. All three are tropes, not only of Atlantis and Lemuria, but also of modernity, reflecting many of its aspects, and are intended by their author to show the direction in which the vaunted Progress tends.

In Smith’s versions of Atlantis and Lemuria, which reflect the autodidact small-town-dweller’s experience of Metropolitan California in San Francisco and Los Angeles, those New Babylons built atop a major earthquake fault, everyone is a lore-versed hyper-aesthete – and everyone implacably resents and hates everyone else. Smith attuned himself to see modernity as the triumph of resentment over generosity through his immersion in Baudelaire, who preceded Friedrich Nietzsche in that type of acuity. Inspecting the future, Smith, like Baudelaire, saw no “sweet loveliness,” but rather pervasive Cainite invidiousness expressing itself in magical-technical expertise, inveterate status-seeking, and cults of refined (that is to say, debased) sadomasochism. When Smith invoked the past, he did so to hold up a mirror to the present, as Spence had done in Will Europe Follow Atlantis. Just about any of Smith’s stories is therefore implicitly an answer to the question whether California will follow Atlantis, and for Smith the question is unavoidably prejudicial and self-answering. “The Empire of the Necromancers” (Weird Tales September 1932) offers itself as a case in point. In it, the “Golden State” appears allegorically in its true guise, not as the gateway to a radiant future, but as the Abendland in the moment of its Untergang.

Over the Line

We live in a time of universal outrage. Everybody is angry with somebody for overstepping the bounds of decent behavior, but nobody can agree just where these bounds might lie. There is a good deal of finger wagging and tongue clucking, but very little in the way of shame.

To commit an outrage is to overstep bounds, for the word comes to us from the French outré (meaning excessive) and the Latin ultra (meaning beyond).  It is an accident of etymology that the word seems to indicate a feeling of rage, although raging against outrages is common enough, and convention permits us to say we are outraged by the outrageous. Continue reading

A Bishop Bears False Witness

In response to sanctions imposed on the Episcopal Church by the Anglican Communion, Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry had this to say:

“I stand before you as a descendant of African slaves, stolen from their native land, enslaved in a bitter bondage, and then even after emancipation, segregated and excluded in church and society. And this conjures that up again, and brings pain.”

This was in the way of defending the Episcopalian policies that elicited the sanctions, namely acceptance of homosexual clergy and solemnization of same-sex marriages.   According to Bishop Curry, these policies do not violate biblical teaching, but rather fulfill the New Testament promise that God’s house should be “a house of prayer for all people,” and that Christ is a condition in which there are no social distinctions. As a descendent of slaves, he was, he said, acutely sensitive to the pain of exclusion.

He is not, however, acutely sensitive to the Eighth Commandment, for his witness here is decidedly false. (This is the Ninth Commandment for Reformed and Orthodox.) A glance at Mark 11:17 show that the word (in all translations) is “nations,” not “people.” The difference in meaning between these words is great, and the substitution of one for the other is dishonest. The Bishop’s abuse of Galatians 3:28 is too common to require comment. Continue reading

Duffers and Fanatics

I do not know what Islam is “all about,” and this is one respect in which I differ from most journalists, politicians, chiefs of police and U. S. military officers. Unlike me, a great many of these deep thinkers are confident that they know what Islam is “all about,” or at least what it is not all about. The basis of their claim is not clear, although it does not appear to involve study of Islamic scripture or immersion in Islamic practice. Continue reading

When Tolerance is a Painted Strumpet

Tolerance is very likely the supreme liberal virtue. It is the virtue in which liberals themselves take the greatest pride, and it is the virtue of which they say their enemies are most deficient. Yet in all other moral systems that I am aware of, tolerance is, at most, a minor virtue. Indeed it is a suspect virtue because it is so often a sham, a fraud and a cheat: a painted strumpet flouncing about in cheap finery. Continue reading