Fewtril: The Sadness of a Portly POG

You may have seen the video from the recent Charlotte riots, in which two Persons of God were attempting, without success, to quell the rioters’ avaricious furor. One was a portly black man, the other a confused white woman. Both were decked out in stoles, the woman’s being of a colorful and ornate variety. Both faced the onrushing surge of the avid rioters yelling, “stop,” the effect being like unto that of William F. Buckley’s otiose conservative. With their arms raised and their sacerdotal stoles flapping, these POGs resembled swaying trees. The flood of surging rioters passing through their arms and under their stoles resembled a river after a rain, which will likewise worry the trees along its bank, and will likewise press inexorably ahead. Oh the sadness of a portly POG amidst an avid and inexorable people.

The Reflexive Problem in Analytic Philosophy: Illogical Logicians

consciousness

Analytic philosophers either accept or regard as perfectly reasonable two philosophical contentions that violate logic and common sense: determinism and the denial of consciousness. Arguing for determinism implies free will and in denying the existence of consciousness the philosopher is using the very thing he says does not exist. In this article published by the Sydney Traditionalist Forum, I argue that this is a result of certain interesting psychological and emotional deficits, a commitment to materialism and atheism, the “philosophy as the handmaiden of science” notion and the very methods and approach used by analytic philosophers. These methods include conceptual analysis and arguments considered as words on a page or monitor – looking at internal coherence and validity – but overlooking the reflexive implications for the person doing the analysis.

This results in risible performative contradictions; a notion absent from the logical toolbox of analytic philosophers as far as I know.

The Reflexive Problem in Analytic Philosophy: Illogical Logicians

Romanticism & Traditionalism

caspar-david-friedrich-wanderer

Introduction. The movement called Romanticism belongs chronologically to the last two decades of the Eighteenth and the first five decades of the Nineteenth Centuries although it has antecedents going back to the late-medieval period and sequels that bring it, or its influence, right down to the present day.  (I write late in 2016.)  Historically, and in simple, Romanticism is the view-of-things that succeeds and corrects its precursor among the serial views-of-things that have defined the eras of the Western European mentality by constituting a dominant worldview – and that precursor would be what historians of ideas call Classicism, which they identify as the worldview of the Enlightenment.  A good definition of Classicism is: The exclusive devotion to prescriptive orderliness for its own sake in all departments of life; the submission of all things to measure, decorum, and, using the word metaphorically, the geometric ideal; implying disdain for or suppression of anything deemed not in conformance with these criteria.  Classicism implies the conviction that reason, narrowly delimited, is the highest faculty, and indeed almost the sole faculty worth developing.  The Classicist believes that life can be perfected by rationalization.

Certainly this is how the Romantics saw Classicism, but it is also in broad terms how the Classicists saw themselves.  According to its own dichotomy, Romanticism would be a view of existence consisting of tenets diametrically opposed to those of Classicism.  And so largely it was or is, as Romanticism is by no means a dead issue.  As the Romantic sees it, imposed or conventional order tends to distort or obliterate the natural order; and by “natural order” the Romantics would have understood not only the order of nature, considered as Creation, although not necessarily in Christian terms, but the order present in social adaptation to nature, as when agriculturalists follow the cycle of the seasons and attune their lives with the life of the soil or when builders of monuments and temples go to great effort to align them astronomically.  In addition, the Romantic believes that a bit of disorder might stimulate and enliven life, preventing it from becoming stiff and ossified; that the quirky and unexpected, in other words, can exert a benevolent influence.  The Romantic also values emotion and intuition as much as he values reason, which he by no means disdains although he defines it more broadly than the Classicist.  The Romantics explicitly rejected the utilitarian arguments of the Classicists.  Romanticism prefigures and is the likely source of what in the second half of the Twentieth Century came to be known as Traditionalism.

Continue reading

Hurray, Hurray, it’s Constitution Day

In this morning’s e-mail there was a message reminding me that Constitution Week will soon be upon us, informing me that the University will honor this week with “a list of activities,” and encouraging me to include in my classes “a brief discussion of the United States Constitution, especially as it relates to [my] discipline.”  It was added that a survey conducted by the scrupulously impartial National Constitution Center has made the public’s “lack of knowledge about the Constitution . . . quite apparent.” Continue reading

By the Rivers of Babylon

To traditional Christians, Babylon is a name instinct with meaning.  It is an apocalyptic symbol that parts a veil of illusion and casts light on hidden reality.  This is because Babylon is not only the name of a city in ancient Mesopotamia, but also the name of a mystical city that Christians believe is one of two possible homes to the human spirit.  St. Augustine calls it the “mystical name” of the city where “the devil is king,” and the spiritual home of all those who are his (1).  This is why we find the words “Mystery, Babylon the Great,” written on the forehead of the Scarlet Woman in the Apocalypse of St. John.  The Whore of Babylon personifies the diabolic glamor that entices spirits to declare themselves citizens of this mystical city (2). Continue reading

George Inness: The Rainbow

Inness George (825 – 1894) Rainbow (1877 - 78)

George Inness (May 1, 1825 – August 3, 1894) belonged to the second generation of the so-called Hudson River or Hudson River Valley School, the first distinctively American school of painting.  In his early work, Inness advances the “luminist” tendency of his precursors (Thomas Cole, Asher Durand, Frederic Church, Albert Bierstadt, and others); and like them, he is almost exclusively a landscape painter, interested in the effects of light on mountain, valley, plain, lake, ocean, and sky.  In his later work, Inness innovates in the direction of Impressionism.  The Hudson River painters were American Romantics, steeped in the nature-philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson and his followers, but also conversant with the late-medieval tradition of reading nature as the outward sign of the supernatural (think Jakob Boehme), a tendency that culminates in the strange but influential writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.  Inness occasionally identified himself as a Swedenborgian.

Continue reading

Political Correctness and the Death of Education – Requiem for a Dream

Sydney Traditionalist Forum today published Political Correctness and the Death of Education – Requiem for a Dream which argues that we in the West are not supposed to prefer our own culture to other cultures and that the culture of repudiation that rejects our cultural heritage as patriarchal, oppressive, imperialist, etc., makes the notion of aspiring to be well-educated a politically incorrect anachronism.

Islamic America

I just this morning received a notice encouraging me to encourage students to sign up for a graduate-level course called “Islamic America,” which will be offered this fall by the English Department at this university.  I should actually say that it may be offered, since the course is presently under-enrolled, and will be cancelled if this notice fails to have its desired effect.  “Islamic America” is, I should add, the title of the “topic” that will (or may) be treated in a course officially known as “Topics in American Literature and Culture to 1900.” Continue reading