The lament of universal ruin is as old as man himself, so it is not without reason that the carping greybeard is a figure of fun and contempt. Times change, and youth will always delight in the violets that sprout from the manure pile the old bequeath them. Times don’t change, and the old will always observe that the stink of the pile is much stronger than the scent of the violet. Continue reading
“O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark . . .”
T. S. Eliot, “East Coker” (1940)
Men have always wondered where a thing is when it is no more. That a being should be simply subtracted from the world of beings offends our reason, since a being that can be not would seem not to have been in the first place. A world of things that can cease to be real must itself be an unreal world. Continue reading
I bear the sad news that longtime Orthosphere author Thomas Bertonneau died last night in his sleep. He had been suffering from a wasting disease and knew that death was near at hand, but he resolved to accept his end with a manly mix of Stoical reserve and Christian insouciance. As Tom wrote to me in the first part of June,
“As soon as the neurologist made the diagnosis, I instructed her that I wanted to know nothing – absolutely nothing – about the details of the disease’s progress or about the timeline of my foreshortened future. I resolved to live – as happily as possible – one day at a time.”
For those who understood the happy warrior that Tom was, these words will come as no surprise. He had the faith and the philosophy to know that a man should not worry about the hour that Death will knock at his door, but should rather worry about the man who must open that door and allow Death to enter in.
Please say a prayer for Tom’s dear, departed soul. We will post a longer tribute to his life and work sometime soon. I’ve pasted below a poem that seems to suit the circumstances. It is by the Catholic poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, and it describes the way that men pass through our lives on their way to the life where there is no more passing through. The second stanza describes men whose bright minds rain rich beams down on those they pass. It would seem to have been written with Thomas Bertonneau in mind, since he has been for all of us an intrepid lantern-bearer in this dark and dolorous world.
The Lantern out of Doors
Sometimes a lantern moves along the night,
That interests our eyes. And who goes there?
I think; where from and bound, I wonder, where,
With, all down darkness wide, his wading light?
Men go by me whom either beauty bright
In mold or mind or what not else makes rare:
They rain against our much-thick and marsh air
Rich beams, till death or distance buys them quite.
Death or distance soon consumes them: wind
What most I may eye after, be in at the end
I cannot, and out of sight is out of mind.
Christ minds: Christ’s interest, what to avow or amend
There, éyes them, heart wánts, care haúnts, foot fóllows kínd,
Their ránsom, théir rescue, ánd first, fást, last friénd.
“They have many cries and various modes of conduct; but they have only one object—the establishment of an oligarchy in this free and equal land.”
“While they aim at oligarchical rule, they apparently advocate popular rights.”
“We find . . . a powerful section of the great nobles ever at war with the national institutions.”
Benjamin Disraeli, The Letters of Runnymede (1836)
Whatever fictions it may employ to conceal the fact, every society is governed by a minority or ruling elite. All government is therefore oligarchical in the simple etymological sense of rule by the few. But rule by the few is not the true essence of oligarchy, since that would make the title of oligarchical government redundant. The true essence of oligarchy is, rather, rule by a rapacious few, and a concomitant and barely disguised hostility of these rapacious robber-barons for the nation of rubes over which they so rapaciously rule. Continue reading
“For the narrow-minded man, though worthy of good things, deprives himself of what he is worthy of.”
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (350 B.C.), iv. 3.
Richard’s latest post set me to puzzling over the meaning of the word narrow-minded. I poked around and discovered that I had unknowingly swallowed the word as a liberal slogan, that the word narrow-minded has another meaning in ancient philosophy, and that Richard is the very opposite of narrow-minded in the ancient sense when he is most narrow minded in the liberal sense. Continue reading
“The haughty pedant, swoln with frothy name
Of learned man, big with his classic fame,
A thousand books read o’re and o’re again,
Does word for word most perfectly retain,
Heap’d in the lumber-office of his brain;
Yet this crammed skull, this undigested mass,
Does very often prove an arrant ass.”
Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, “The Fourth Satire” (1687)
The word pedant was first used among the French to name a man charged with the instruction of children. A pedant was no different than a pedagogue. But by the sixteenth century the word pedant had become the epithet of a poser who was stuffed to the tonsils with a mishmash of inexact, superficial, and ostentatious learning. Montagne tells us that farcical plays of that day always brought a pedant in “for the fool of the play,” since there is no fool so farcical as a fool who pretends he is wise. Continue reading
Eric Weinstein once said that two topics of thought and philosophical conversation should always be avoided; God and metaphysical freedom. Since those are my twin obsessions, this rather caught my amused attention. Over a period of years, of looking at certain topics from multiple angles, one ends up seeing the end point of many conceptual and rhetorical “moves.” Analogies can be made with fighting or chess. An expert fighter, according to YouTube videos like those from hard2hurt, knows what moves to expect from novice fighters and also knows how to counter them. Giant swinging punches called “haymakers” are the norm for an angry untutored idiot. They can be seen coming a mile off, giving someone plenty of time to prepare a counter move. Practiced pugilists, so it seems, prefer much straighter, more controlled punches, like a jab, that are harder to avoid and do not open someone up to easy counter attack. One commentator stated that one year of rigorous boxing training would be enough to defeat most other people in a self-defense situation. Unfortunately, that would entail one year of being hit hard in the head with corresponding brain damage that is likely to catch up with someone at some point. Head protectors do not stop your brain hitting the inside of your hard skull. Even Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which has no strikes, can damage necks through the copious use of choke holds. Continue reading
Education cannot occur where equality is taken as the preeminent moral virtue, where the past is rejected as hopelessly morally compromised, and when materialism is adopted as the overriding metaphysical presupposition. To engage in education, therefore, is a rejection of all those things. Since most colleges and most professors, often through intimidation, adopt those positions, they have abandoned education. Education can only occur where overt politicization is avoided. Education, as opposed to indoctrination, will involve a respect for students’ moral integrity, and for the past, and thus a willingness to sometimes consider reform, but never to entertain wholesale rejection and abhorrence of all social structures and reality as we know it. A measured and sane education will accept the existence of mystery, and respect tradition as a repository of answers to questions many of which we have forgotten. The Enlightenment has been described as a rejection of intuition and tradition; as such, it announced its hostility to education aimed at wisdom. Continue reading
“How is it you can keep so serene and stay so utterly insensible with a storm of shells and bullets raining about your head?”
“Captain Smith, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death, I do not concern myself with that—but to be always ready, whenever it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live. Then all men would be equally brave.”
Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson in Gods and Generals (2003)
We Texans are at present legally entitled to evade the covid virus in whatever manner we think best. Masks are optional in public places, and hereabouts are seen on scarcely one Texan in ten. Private businesses are at liberty to require masks, but those that mask their employees seem happy to ring up sales to unmasked customers. This wanton and barefaced liberty extends even to the inmates of government schools, primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary alike. Continue reading
“And, above all else, these angry Western men detest feminism.”
Mary Harrington, “It’s Horrifying how some Young Western Men are so Alienated by Woke Culture that They Even Admire the Taliban’s Twisted Mindset.” Daily Mail (August 28, 2021)
“Feminism was one of the biological factors involved in the downfall of the [Roman] empire . . . . No civilization has ever been able to survive after the natural biological differentiation of the sexes was weakened.”
Paul Popenoe, The Conservation of the Family (1926)
“The only groups in the United States reproducing at rates far above replacement are located in certain rural areas . . . remote from those educational and cultural influences which are symbolic of social progress.”
Paul Henry Landis, Population Problems (1943).
The author of my first epigraph agrees with Orthosphere commenter a.morphous that unfeminized Western men are quietly cheering the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan because the bearded blitzkrieg represents a small victory for patriarchy. She makes the usual progressive error of projecting her leftist love of abstractions onto the right. Whether we are young or old, angry or jolly, alienated or adapted, unfeminized Western men love particulars, not abstractions. In the case at hand, we love our own particular people, both male and female, and advocate patriarchy as necessary to their welfare.
So long as our own people is staggering under the multiple maladies of foul feminism, however, we are not in the least bit consoled by the thought that the beacon of patriarchy is burning on a dusty hill on the other side of the world. Continue reading