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
There seems to be a surprising insouciance about the total fertility rates, 1.4 in many Western countries, with 2.0 needed to maintain population numbers. My article, published in the Sydney Traditionalist Forum, looks at some of the possible reasons why we are not seeing more alarm about this nor any proposed remedies.
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.
The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy has published my short article Students Are Moral Relativists: Problem and Solution about the phenomenon of moral and cultural relativism and how it can be countered in the classroom.
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.
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
At The Gates of Vienna, I review The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise by Dario Fernandez-Morera. One of the indispensable resources of advocacy for multiculturalism and diversity is the fairy-story of the Muslim-Spanish utopia, a religiously pluralistic, philosophically open-minded, and creatively rich society that prevailed in the Spanish Peninsula for eight hundred years until the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella completed the Reconquest at the end of the Fifteenth Century. Fernandez-Morera has appropriated the scholarly equivalent of the main, sixteen-inch, nine-gun battery of an Iowa-class battleship to demolish this fairy tale. The demolition is a joy to behold. I urge all readers of The Orthosphere to buy Fernandez-Morera’s book, and indeed to buy multiple copies to distribute to their friends.
I offer an excerpt:
The basic vocabulary of the Andalusian Myth reflects a mendacious agenda, as Fernández-Morera takes care to point out in his opening chapter, on ‘Conquest and Reconquest.’ In modern accounts of Spain under the Muslims, scholars of the departments invariably refer to a geographical entity called Iberia. In a detailed summary of the historical background to the centuries of Muslim hegemony, Fernández-Morera reminds his readers that the Romans, who were active in the peninsula from the time of the First Punic War, never named it by any other name than Hispania. That same Hispania became a province of the Roman Empire, providing it with emperors and artists over the centuries, and playing a role within the imperial structure in the west only second to Italy. When the imperial administrative structure in the west broke down in the Fourth Century, and the Visigoths inherited the Roman mantle south of the Pyrenees, they too still called the region Hispania. Spain had thus been Spain to its inhabitants for nearly a thousand years before the Muslim invasion. After the invasion, Spain remained Spain to its Spanish-Christian inhabitants, as Fernández-Morera demonstrates by bringing into evidence documents from the period in question. The academic use of the term Iberia conveniently deletes these facts, just as it deletes the spiritual resistance of the actual Spaniards (the Spanish-Roman-Christian-Gothic people of Spain) during the relevant centuries to their militant overlords of another religion. Fernández-Morera therefore prefers the terms ‘Spain, medieval Spain, and Islamic Spain’ to Iberia. Indeed, Fernández-Morera characterizes both the Muslim attempt, beginning already in the Eighth Century, to replace standing Latin toponyms with Arabic labels and the modern recursion to that replacement-nomenclature as imperialistic gestures. He writes that medieval Spaniards ‘considered the lands conquered by Islam to be part of Spain, not part of Islam, and therefore they did not use the term Al-Andalus,’ the Muslim name for the subdued region.
Part Two of my essay René Guénon and Eric Voegelin on the Degeneration of Right Order has appeared at the Sydney Traditionalist Forum. The essay had its first incarnation four or five years ago at The Brussels Journal, but I have expanded and rewritten it extensively. The essay explores the complementarity of René Guénon’s study in Spiritual Authority & Temporal Power (1929) of “The Revolt of the Kshatriyas,” an event of Indian history which serves Guénon for a paradigm of usurpation, and Voegelin’s study in The Ecumenic Age (1965) of empire-building as a case of “concupiscential exodus” that destroys civilizations. For the revised version of the essay, I have added a section discussing what I see as the significance of Britain’s recent “Brexit” vote in light of Guénon and Voegelin. I would like to thank Edwin Dyga, the convener of the Sydney Traditionalist Forum for giving both parts of the essay such a handsome presentation.
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.
I offer, as best I can, a translation of a section from Dominique Venner’s masterwork Histoire et tradition des Européens: 30,000 ans d’identité [The History and Tradition of the Europeans: 30,000 Years of Identity,] published in French in 2002 by Éditions du Rocher. The excerpt originates in Chapter 10, “Nihilisme et Saccage de la Nature” [“Nihilism and the Exploitation of Nature”]. Venner wrote in a style that runs to the ironic and telegraphic: Phrases in brackets represent my attempt to overcome the occasional obscurity that his tendencies of irony and compression, or self-allusion, entail. Flora Montcorbier, whom Venner cites in the excerpt, is a writer of the French New Right. I give the French original of the text first, followed by my attempt at an idiomatic English rendering.