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:

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

Open Discussion

This post is the result of an animated discussion that took place between four o’clock and seven o’clock this evening (30 December) at Old City Hall in Oswego, NY.

I invite discussion of the following proposition:

The Left destroys everything it touches – including socialism.

Sunday 27 December 2015

Christmas Party 02

Genuine Multiculturalism (From Left to Right): Lazar Sokolovski (Former World-Literature Professor, University of Moscow, Poet, Essayist; Max (Lazar’s Youngest Son – Occasionally my Student -Fine Essayist in English); Eric Schmitz (SUNY Oswego’s Jazz Master); Alla (Lazar’s Wife and Max’s Mother – Artist, Photographer); Natalya (Eric’s wife, from St. Petersburg, Linguist, Artist, Educator); Yours Truly (TFB); Richard Fader (King of Oswego – My Mentor in How to be an Upstate -New-Yorker).  Not Pictured: George and Heike Koenig (George was my wife’s German Professor in the 1970s; Heike was born in Hamburg); Kestutis and Yelena Bendinskas (Kestutis, Lithuanian by birth, is Professor of Chemistry at SUNY Oswego; Yelena, his Wife, a Russian, is a talented Painter); Larry Klotzko (the Photographer – also Proprietor of the Old City Hall Tavern and Restaurant, Oswego, NY); Ana Djukovic-Cocks (Professor of German at SUNY Oswego, Serbian-born); Nicolas Cocks (Ana’s Son – Lead in every Production at SUNY Oswego during the Just-Completed Semester); Joseph Bertonneau – Geology Major, Master Clarinetist, Percussionist, Bell-Ringer, Chorister, Saint Paul’s Parish, Oswego, NY, and Clarinetist, Oswego City Band); Richard Zakin (Master Ceramist); Helen Zakin (Art Historian).  Everyone brought a dish – wonderful Russian, Serbian, and Ukrainian dishes.  There were many toasts.  We love life.  I wish that all the Orthosphereans could have been with us.

The Imago Dei & His Lord

The dignity of each man qua man, ergo his liberty under his sovereigns – of nation, tribe, clan, family and household, each in his properly subsidiary domain – derive from the fact that all men are images of God, and may not properly therefore be treated as means, but only as ends; for, as God is not a means of some magic of our own intended for our own worldly aims, but rather the proper aim and intention of all means and magics, all arts and sciences, all acts of any sort, so likewise with his images: men.

Men may not therefore be simply used by their rulers, willy nilly, as if they were chattels. Their commands must rather find fulfillment in virtue of the free assent of their subjects (the ancients after all sought prior consent to sacrificial immolation even from the bestial victims of their rites – which is to say, from all the animals they slaughtered for meat). This pledge of fealty must be freely undertaken if it is to qualify as a pledge in the first place. Formally, it is a vow of sonship, of filial obedience to a fundamentally paternal authority. From this sort of free pledge, explicitly given at the inception of their terms of service and utter loyalty, derive the iterated pledges given by soldiers and sailors in response to the commands of their officers: “Yes, sir” or “Aye aye, sir” – both of which mean literally “Yes, sire.”

Continue reading