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

Babelonian Synchronicity

Believe it or not, I only this evening realized that, while my post of the 26th and JM Smith’s post of the 23rd were quite different, both concerned Babylon. I suppose his post must have played a role in my intuition – in an email correspondence with Tom Bertonneau a few days later – that “Babel” might be a suitable name for our Enemy in his current corporeal instantiation. In retrospect, it seems as though it could hardly have been otherwise. But at the time, I had no conscious recollection of Dr. Smith’s excellent essay. None whatsoever. Had you asked me about it, I would have been able to reel off a précis of the piece. But at no point in the writing of my post a few days later did it occur to my recollection.

In this event, at least two things are of interest to me.

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Naming the Enemy: Babel

It is important to name one’s enemies. Only thus may they be quite completely recognized for what they are, or therefore effectually fought. The reluctance of our chattering classes to name Islam an enemy of the West – as Islam has forthrightly declared herself to be – has forestalled our prosecution of her war against us. If we were able to muster the clarity of thought and vigor of will to name Islam our enemy, our war with her could be soon over (saving lots of Mohammedan lives), and everyone better off.

From my very first encounter with Moldbug’s appropriation of “cathedral” as a way of referring to our homegrown Modernist, Leftist and Materialist enemies of Truth, Virtue and Beauty as manifest in the West, it has irked me. Cathedrals are noble. They may be the very best, most beautiful thing man has ever done. It seems a literal profanation to apply our term for these gorgeous holy temples to one of the most ignoble, evil things man has ever done, a thing indeed demonic in its origins and supervision.

I would like to keep “cathedral” unsullied for good things – like cathedrals.

The term is by now however so widely known and used in our little corner of the web that it is unlikely anything anyone might say will dislodge it. I have for some time nevertheless been casting about for another term as pithy and trenchant, but more apt, that might have a shot.

It would have to be a single word, conveying both the established institutional aspect and control of the commanding cultural heights enjoyed by our demon-haunted adversaries, as well as the devilish nature of their lord. A single word with the many connotations evoked by “Cult of Moloch.”  “Cult of Moloch” was the best I had come up with. It’s accurate enough, for that cult involved regular and massive sacrificial immolations of first born children. But while “Cult of Moloch” is more evocative for those in the know than its ordinary equivalent, “culture of death,” both are too long. There is also the problem that most people don’t know Moloch from Adam.

“Leviathan” is good – short, not unfamiliar, catchy, connoting vast size and tremendous inertia – but it, too, usually requires some explanation, and anyway Hobbes has already put it to another, valuable use.

This evening, a fit candidate at last occurred to me: Babel.

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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

The Bloom of Health Is Not Itself Health

Liberty is not the basis of rightly ordered society, as liberals think. Liberty is rather a byproduct of a rightly ordered society.

A society that lacks liberty – that, i.e., contravenes the doctrine of subsidiarity (which mandates the devolution to each organ of the social hierarchy (thus, in the limit, to individuals) all the powers each of them can well handle, or delegate in their turn) – is not just, to be sure. That injustice however lies, not in its lack of liberty, but in the fact that it is wrongly ordered to begin with.

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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.

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An Image for Our Time

Atlantic Abomination 01 (Art by Richard Powers)Edmund Alexander “Ed” Emshwiller (February 16, 1925 – July 27, 1990) was a commercial artist and illustrator and later, in the 1960s, an auteur of so-called experimental film.  He is notably identified with the science fiction genre, having contributed scores of covers to Galaxy magazine, and other similar periodicals, in the 1950s and 60s.  Emshwiller’s illustrations also graced many a paperback cover, as in the case of the Ace paperback edition of John Brunner’s Atlantic Abomination.  I have posted Emshwiller’s Abomination (so to speak) previously at The Orthosphere.  It is time to display it again.  Emshwiller’s painting instantiates the possibilities that lay within the popular and commercial genres of art in the middle of the last century.  It is a powerful image with many resonances in the archives of painting and drawing, which, to my mind, speaks deeply to our condition.

I invite commentary on Emshwiller’s image, or indeed on Brunner’s story, his lone foray into H. P. Lovecraft territory, should anyone have read it.

P.S. I call dibs on any That-Woman interpretation of the image.

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.