Thursday, August 31, 2023
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Amid the darkness place the sun,
That veteran god, from deepest night
Evoking brightest day. Make plain
Imagination’s gestures are
But acts of faith, and loss of faith
An absence of imagination.
Merely perceiving misperceives:
We must invite what our eye bears —
Sunflower, catbird, passing cloud —
Into the tabernacle of the heart,
There where the lamp of vision flares.
This isn’t rocket surgery. Some of the biggest box office successes — including the original “Star Wars” — were shot on budgets that wouldn’t even pay the caterering crew on “Thor: Love and Thunder.” While there’s still plenty of room for big-budget summer blockbusters, regularly spending $200 million or more on things like a Snow White reboot that can’t afford more than one dwarf is a bit much.
People seem to figure out all the ways they can be oppressed, all the ways they can be victimized, just so they can have some kind of status.
Once upon a time, a guy cams walking toward me opening a switchblade. I positioned my walking stick (it used to be a fashion statement, but now is a utility) in a way that caused him to pause. I said to him — yes, really — “Go ahead, make my day,” That’s when he realized I was planning to take out one of his eyes. If you’re coming at me with a knife, I have no reason to be nice to you. He folded up the knife, turned around, and walked away.
One of the great values of this huge book, two and a half times the length of Ulysses itself, is to interrogate this idea. In the introduction, the authors quote Stephen Dedalus in the Scylla and Charybdis episode: ‘A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are portals of discovery.’ But only half this last sentence is true. Joyce’s errors in Ulysses were not volitional or even versions of his unconscious; he would have corrected them had he known of them.
“This is a fairy tale that is both archetypal and unfamiliar,” said Gioia. “It’s about an old king who has to pick an heir. In the original Grimm story, he has three sons; our version has three daughters. One daughter is very domineering, one is extravagant, and the youngest is a bookworm who no one takes seriously. He then says he has the perfect solution, [and for that] I’ve written a good aria, ‘The Treasure Song,’ which is a patter song [about] his box with three magic feathers.”
Tuesday, August 29, 2023
Even among Biden’s innumerable lies, this one sets a new standard for mendacity, as every detail of it is false: the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, eight and a half years before Biden entered the Senate, Thurmond voted against it, and the segregationist senator didn’t die until nearly forty years later. Is it the dementia? Or is it just Joe being Joe? It’s increasingly hard to tell the difference.
… How therapy turned on itself. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
What’s happened to psychotherapy is, writ small, what’s happened to western education, healthcare, left-of-center governments and NGOs, as well as the civil service, the sciences and the arts. By its nature, this nihilistic doctrine corrupts from within every sphere it invades. CSJ resembles the fibrous, species-threatening fungus in The Last of Us, which smothers cities and takes malign control of human minds. At length, elites oppose the very purpose of their professions. Hence the National Trust despises the culture it’s pledged to preserve. The British Museum gives away its artifacts. Doctors reject western medicine for indigenous superstitions. Classicists denounce the Greeks and Romans as too white. English professors renounce Shakespeare. Therapists renounce therapy.
We need only look at the treatment of such other topics as crime, terrorism, and warfare to see examples of the same sort of misplaced sentimentality and willful ignorance. Tolerance of criminality leads to more crime; tolerance of terrorism leads to more terrorism; efforts to appear defenseless lead to war, subsidies for homelessness produce more homeless people.
Monday, August 28, 2023
The scholar Cynthia Haven remarks on her blog for Stanford that, “Helen became preoccupied with the Thomistic notion of esse, and sees ‘nothingness’ as the primary temptation of humankind.”
Sunday, August 27, 2023
Saturday, August 26, 2023
Friday, August 25, 2023
Thursday, August 24, 2023
Wednesday, August 23, 2023
According to an August 16 press release by All Seasons Press, Amazon received 7,523 copies of Tucker. On the book’s publication date, August 1, Amazon listed it as “Sold Out” within minutes. And yet BookScan, a firm that tracks book sales, reported only 3,227 sales of Tucker during its first week.
Tuesday, August 22, 2023
Monday, August 21, 2023
Sunday, August 20, 2023
Community is a safeguard against frustration. Hoffer suggests that those who see themselves as part of a close-knit group are less likely to be attracted to mass movements. The sense of accountability that comes from being part of a community and the reciprocal actions required to sustain membership counters the urge to lose oneself in a larger collective identity. The book points out that although mass movements can be seen as a kind of community, they differ in that they require only belief and identity, rather than reciprocal obligations and accountability
In “Careful,” a man named Lloyd whose marriage has fallen apart is staying alone in a shabby apartment, where he’s trying to get his drinking under control by drinking only champagne. This detail is one of Carver’s many knowing alcoholic references, and it’s funny too. Champagne, of all drinks, in that sad place, being drunk alone. The story shows us a person in decline, a decline that everyone around him is worried about but that he is not fully in on himself. He’s in the “so what” part you eventually get to on the long way down.
Saturday, August 19, 2023
… Computer says, we’re all doomed! Will AI ruin our world? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Friday, August 18, 2023
You can’t read “The Blind Side” and rationally believe the Tuohy family deserves the criticism or lawsuit Michael Oher has dumped at their door.
The popularity of this song should be taken seriously. Why? Because, frankly, it sounds like a prelude to a revolution. History has shown that when a people are continually pushed down while their elites live lives of corrupt hedonism, pressure builds to dangerous levels. Sadly, the answer of many elites to the people’s discontent is to just push down more. Eventually, however, the pressure becomes so great that an explosion happens.
From conception, there is a wide-reaching, permanent impact of biology on every system of the body. Each of our seventy trillion cells with a nucleus is stamped “XX” or “XY,” and hard science demonstrates the enduring influence of that biological reality on the brain and every other organ system.
Thursday, August 17, 2023
I am what is called a cradle Catholic. But i have reminded myself recently that the head of the Church remains Jesus. The Pope is a stand-in. The current one is rather a poor stand-in. And plenty of cardinals these seem to me to be rather dubiously orthodox. The Church seems in a bad way.
The bottom line, which Moore conveys vividly, is that Tucker, who I’ve always vaguely gathered was a scion of wealth, was in reality the son of Lisa, a spoiled rich San Francisco girl turned hippie (now deceased) who abandoned her husband and her two sons when the boys were little, and Dick, who began his life in a Massachusetts orphanage, raised his boys on his own, went on to be a TV news anchor in San Diego and a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and is still going strong in his eighties.
… if I were asked to explain the main difference between me and my late brother, he a bohemian atheist, I a suburban Christian, I think that the simplest way of expressing it would be to ask my listeners to imagine Christopher mowing the lawn. It was unthinkable to me, a bit like picturing Bob Dylan playing croquet, or Mick Jagger taking up ballroom dancing.
Everybody succumbs to sins; and potentially, any of these sins could develop into a mind-set that would block salvation.
Wednesday, August 16, 2023
Should you wonder why Tolstoy belongs in a book called In Defense of Love, think of Tolstoy as a not-well-recognized enemy of love. A new perception to me prompted by the startling surfacing in 2010 of an “answer novel” to Lev’s Kreutzer Sonata by Tolstoy’s wife, Sofiya. Her novella, called Whose Fault?, put a spotlight on the animus to women, sex, love, marriage, and human reproduction Lev portrayed in The Kreutzer Sonata. Such a critique of Lev’s dark, hate-filled final works had rarely been on the cultural radar, which has tended to exalt Tolstoy’s saintly “wisdom” uncritically.
One ought to meditate on the fact that the two greatest teachers of the West, and two great teachers of humanity, Socrates and Jesus, were unjustly executed by the State. This is something contemporary liberals, uncritical in their belief in the benevolence of government, ought especially to consider.
Tuesday, August 15, 2023
Monday, August 14, 2023
I’ve been thinking about Bruce since reading the excellently titled Deliver Me from Nowhere, Warren Zanes’s new book about the making of Nebraska (1982)—the “rural” album that is the oddest entry in the Springsteen oeuvre
Sunday, August 13, 2023
Where once it was the glory of the novelist—of Tolstoy, of Melville, of Willa Cather—to have all the world for his or her subject, now No Trespassing signs have been placed upon nearly all subjects outside the writer’s own ethnic, racial, and sexual identity. The loser here, of course, is literature and the culture generally.
Saturday, August 12, 2023
I did not get vaccinated.I am in the top 1 percent of the population to die of heart attack as my father did). The two mRNA vaccines were known to sometimes cause cardiomyopathy. I was tested, however, numerous times, since my wife was in and out of hospitals, rehabs, and assisted living facilities. Always negative.
To move Augustine to center stage by writing his biography was a new sort of history writing for me. I would find myself in the company of a solitary giant—a religious genius, whose thoughts still ran, for good or ill, in the bloodstream of all western European Christians (Catholics and Protestants alike); the most prodigious author in the entire history of Latin literature; and—behind all this, it seemed to me as I came to know him in the course of those years—a person of magnetic charm and riveting originality, whose quality of mind was unmistakable even in his smallest turn of phrase and most routine writing.
I came to the Greeks early, and I found answers in them. Greece's great men let all their acts turn on the immortality of the soul. We don't really act as if we believed in the soul's immortality and that's why we are where we are today.
— Edith Hamilton, bornon this date in 1867