A Short and Sobering History of Vandalism

“In all quarters pillage and destruction were the order of the day.”

Henri Grégoire, Memorial (1794)

We have our word vandal from the name of the Germanic tribe that sacked the city of Rome in 455 A.D., thereby abetting the collapse of the Western empire and setting an example for all subsequent and eponymous barbarians.  There were, to be sure, many other malignancies crippling the sinews and thews of Rome, and this was not the first time the city had been sacked, but the sack of the Vandals was for many an omen of the end that would soon be upon them. Continue reading

Spare Us the Clamor and Din

“When you find more spiritual sustenance in an empty church than the actual service, something has gone badly wrong.”  William Wildblood, Meeting the Masters Blog (October 10, 2020)

“But when alone—really alone—everyone is a child: or no one.”  C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength (1945)

“Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew18:3.

I have spent many hours alone in empty, silent churches, and I will confess that those hours were, for me, superior to the many hours I have spent in churches that were packed with people and full of sound.  My preference is no doubt partly due to a discreditable streak of misanthropy, but I think it is primarily due to distaste for the dreadful clamor and din.  As Wildblood says, something has gone badly wrong when men prefer an empty church to a worship service, and I say that what has gone badly wrong is the service and not the men. Continue reading

On the conservative quarrel with reason

Left-liberalism is the ideology of the elite, and the inculcation of its doctrines is what is regarded as education, so of course liberals are on average smarter, better behaved, richer, more industrious, fitter, and more sexually attractive than conservatives. Failure to conform is almost always a sign of defect; almost never a sign of being more perceptive than one’s host society. However, when liberals say that conservatives are hostile to reason, they are making a more interesting claim, one about the role of public reason in our system compared to theirs.

Unfortunately, there have been few first-rate conservative epistemologists, and some, like Burke and Maistre, have spoken rather too sweepingly on this matter, so liberals cannot be blamed for any inaccurate conclusions on our attitude toward reason. We should admit that, while reason has a role in conservative governance, it is more subordinate than in liberal governance. We really do have a lower estimation of man’s ability to deduce principles of social justice from a priori reasoning. In this sense, conservatism is anti-reason in the same way that empirical science is anti-reason. Just as scientific reasoning begins from observations about the world and may not appeal to a priori reasoning to demand the data be different, so conservative moral reasoning begins with inherited practices and may not appeal to a priori reasoning to demand an overthrow of tradition.

Continue reading

Eschew Calumny and Chauvinism

“Calumniate, calumniate: something will always stick.”

Beaumarchais, Le Barbier de Séville (1773)

“I am French, I am Chauvin”

Cogniard, La Cogniard Tricolore (1831)

Orthosphere gadfly a.morphous opines in recent comments that liberals are vastly more rational and empathetic than conservatives, forgetting to mention better looking and more skillful in both bedroom and kitchen.  He also says that conservatives oppose progress, offering their opposition to Hillary Clinton as evidence.  If the thought that Hillary Clinton might be president made you throw up a little in your mouth, he evidently believes you must also sputter and spit every time you think of anesthetics, steel bridges, or toilet paper on a roll. Continue reading

Question to readers

Books of a certain persuasion are being purged and are getting harder to acquire. I notice, for example, that two books that I own, The Camp of the Saints and The Culture of Critique, are no longer carried by Amazon. Are there any books that you are thinking you’d better buy very soon if you ever hope to read them? Anything you’d recommend I buy a copy of while I still can? For example, when I first noticed this, it seemed likely that pro-confederate books would be disappearing first, so I bought my own copy of the Southern Agrarian manifesto I’ll Take My Stand, which I had read and appreciated many years ago. I don’t particularly feel like re-reading it, but it’s nice to know that now I’ll always be able to.

Hopeless, Sick and Appalling Fear, or, The Meaning of ‘Hideous Strength’

“Its claws were imbedded in every country.”

“The Hideous Strength holds all this earth in its fist to squeeze as it wishes”

C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength (1945)

The word hideous has been drained of meaning by generations of women who have used it as a pejorative epithet in their frivolous chatter about dresses and hair.  Chattering women did the same thing to the word ghastly, but that is another story.  Hideous is not, properly, a synonym for ugly.   Its root meaning and exact synonym is horrible.  And, once again, horrible does not properly mean superlatively bad.  Horrible means generative of a hopeless, sick, and appalling fear. Continue reading

Super-Spreaders of Iatrogenic Stupidity

“What’s all the noisy jargon of the schools,
But idle nonsense of laborious fools.”

John Pomfret, “Reason” (1700)

“Have I not known all earthly vanities?
Learned the inane, and taught inanities.” 

Goethe, Faust (1829)

Some people are congenitally stupid, others stupid in consequence of a stupefying environment.  Of all stupefying environments, the schools are most insidious because their ostensible purpose is to cure stupidity.  This is why I call the stupidity peculiar and endemic to scholars, iatrogenic stupidity.  This follows the model of iatrogenic diseases, which are transmitted by way of doctors and their hospitals, iatros being the Greek name for a doctor (think pediatrician) Continue reading