08 June, 2012
13 January, 2011
—John Leonard, "Milton, John" in The Classical Tradition (Harvard, 2010)
08 December, 2010
"Jim Antle writes that Gary Johnson is “badly positioned to make a credible presidential run,” and Dan McCarthy adds that he is “setting himself up to play the libertarian stock villain in the GOP’s quadrennial opera buffa.” They’re both right, but I have to admit that this is part of what I find appealing about the prospect of a Johnson candidacy. He isn’t just badly positioned–he’s horribly positioned, but there’s a chance that he might run anyway and have a salutary effect on the primary contest. His candidacy would force debates on civil liberties, foreign policy, and the drug war, which are all subjects where most of the other likely candidates hold misguided and sometimes appalling views. The rest of the field will all be officially pro-life, but perfectly content with the idea of starting wars, detaining suspects indefinitely, and perhaps even torturing detainees when “necessary.” The contrast would be useful and instructive, and it might even lead some pro-life voters to insist that their leaders show more consistent respect for human life. All right, that last part is pretty unlikely, but it couldn’t hurt to try."
29 November, 2010
among us"—he says in his solemn way.
Contempt. But what did he expect?
Let him organise religion as much as he liked,
write to the High Priest of Galatia as much as he liked,
or to others of his kind, inciting them, goading them on.
His friends weren't Christians; that much was certain.
But even so they couldn't play
as he could (brought up a Christian)
with a new religious system,
ludicrous in theory and application.
They were, after all, Greeks. Nothing in excess, Augustus.
24 October, 2010
"For different natures must first have existed in all those things that among the nations were to be differentiated. This at any rate is seen if one observes how very different in their bodies are Germans and Scythians from Libyans and Egyptians. Can this also be due to a bare decree, and does not the climate or the country have joint influences with the gods…?" —Julian the Apostate, Against the Galileans (143E)
"Thus do the gods justify the life of man, in that they themselves live it!— the only satisfactory theodicy!" —Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy (ch. 3)
"Note the precise characterization of the German ancien régime as the one which 'only imagines that it still believes in itself' —one can even speculate about the meaning of the fact that, during the same period, Kierkegaard deployed his idea that we humans cannot ever be sure what we believe: ultimately, we only 'believe that we believe.' The formula of a régime which 'only imagines that it believes in itself' nicely captures the cancellation of the performative power ('symbolic efficiency') of the ruling ideology: it no longer effectively functions the fundamental structure of the social bond. And, we may ask, are we not today in the same situation?" —Slavoj Zizek, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce
21 October, 2010
I found myself reading Poe today (some sort of leap from something I read in Julian the Apostate), and read "The Masque of the Red Death" for the first time in a while. While I hate to find metaphor where the author may have intended none, there is something of an analogy for our times in it.
illus. Aubrey Beardsley, downloaded from Wikipedia
27 September, 2010
On a long drive to and from a church today, I feel confident that fall is here. The leaves here are showing a lot of stunning deep reds, it really could be a fantastic season.
Summer Has Faded
Summer has faded from all living eyes.
It is a written book we have read
With sentences of green beneath blue skies.
Each word is now a leaf of dying red.
We stand to watch birds gather for the south,
We watch them rise in this bright autumn weather;
And with joy in the heart, song in the mouth,
They are off through boundless skies together.
Above the thistle furze that floats on the wind,
Above the leaves of scarlet–red and gold,
Above treetops the autumn winds have thinned
They rise to sing before their autumn blood grows cold.
We stand below to listen and to look,
And wait the season of another book.
11 September, 2010
The rise of the zombie genre in the last decade, for example, shows a really telling turning point. It began with some "re–imaginings" of the genre, most notably 28 Days Later in 2002. But there is an obvious change in tone with the Zombie Survival Guide in 2003, and its broader acceptance beyond communities of nerds and college guys (a pretty well overlapping demographic in the generation where sorority girls watch Battlestar: Galactica), once it was clear the economy was starting to sputter hard in 2007. (2009's Zombieland is kind of the cinematic summa of the new zombie genre, combining survivalist "tips" (not nearly as serious as Brooks's), the comedy tone of the "cross–overs" and nerd–romance/wish fulfillment.)
Simply put: People are fascinated by post–apocalyptic scenarios because of a general sense of "this can't go on", but need to have some sort of socially acceptable place to work out the thoughts, for those who aren't already into survivalist or pessimistic internet culture. Obviously this is part of the appeal in all generations, but the greater profile indicates greater resonance.
04 July, 2010
Though much is sterile clay and bluff and stone,
Land that I hope to hold for life's duress,
Land that by deed and in my heart I own…
And I am grateful for the hard-earned knowledge
That I know dirt and what to plant and when,
Experience I did not get in college
Nor from associates in a world of men.
I know that I can always fill my table
From this lean land and with these hands and this head
As long as I have strength, am well and able,
Let come what will; I have no fear or dread.
As long as I have land, seed, working tools,
And get a season not too wet nor dry
And have a team of well-fed kicking mules
I'm independent and I'll do or die…
Those who know me will know my skepticism and criticism of agrarianism; however, I do love the non-agraianist agrarian poetry of Stuart. It is about direct relation to a home patch by a man who lived fully and did not patronize others who lived by chance or fault, less. Perhaps his Great Lakes Naval Training Station poems would be the better choice for this holiday––Stuart struggles with war and gives a patriotism of place as he prepares for it––but it is hard to isolate one part of those poems, and there is a limit to what I can type. Besides, I realize that Stuart is not particularly a "great", and my interest in him may tax those non-Kentuckians (and thus the overwhelming majority) in my audience. However, he is the author of this blog's title, and will regularly get respect for it.
I love my country. I do now know if I love "America", but I love her peoples and her land. I love the high desert in Arizona and Bluegrass hills; Colorado mountains and Great Lakes shore. My academic study was in large part the bones of this country, and I love it more for knowing it.It is futile to condemn a fait accompli; so let us embrace American Independence and pray the better angels of that nature conquer.
My wife & I have had, for very different reasons, unfortunate and taxing weeks. She is now home safe & sound, and I am mostly well again, but I would ask the prayers of those who read this: this coming week will be hard in a very different way. Our future depends on our steadfastness and God's grace (as always).
23 June, 2010
A recent comment thread on The Ochlophobist got me considering this assumption, however. In theory, the majority (and to my knowledge, all) of the participants in that go around are Orthodox Christians, or at least highly sympathetic to Orthodox Christianity. As such, there should be much closeness on knowledge of moral ends and images of healthy culture, etc. if not actual identity with a common set of aspirations. As such, the ideologies of Marxism or Liberalism in particular should hardly enter into the discussions, even if arguments appropriated from either lineage did, but rather diagnoses, hopes or even policies (on which there can be disagreement without the scepter of our ideological labels).
However, the tone of the Ochlophobist's discourse is latched on by some commentators, while others seek to use it as an opportunity to express agreement with one ideology, or statements to rally those who oppose the ideology they are against. While I certainly agree that "No people on earth are fit to practice socialism", I don't think any people on earth are fit to practice much of anything in the way of totalizing political ideologies, even those which claim to be non-totalizing based on their love of freedom as an abstract. (It is an often problematic accident of language that we have no one word to distinguish between the liberty of the Libertarian, and the liberty of St. Paul.) In any case, order naturally arises, and the trick is to have the natural aristocracy both in their place and humble about the powers they wield. Quotes such as the above, though, simply serve to rally proponents of one ideology while annoying the proponents of the other. I certainly have done (and will almost certainly do again) this myself, but coming from the background I do, I've never been able to make myself wholly immune to partisan fervor, and won't pretend otherwise.