Month: June 2012

Saturday

Mini-Review

Leisure, The Basis of Culture by John Pieper (1948).

Choice quote: “[T]here can be unused space in the total world of work.”

Obsessed with efficiency? I am. At least I used to be. I’m a recovering efficiencoholic. It was bad, so bad that my time and energy spent on being efficient far exceeded the time and energy I saved through my efficiency, so bad that I didn’t even realize it, until I sat back and reflected on what had been become of my mental world. Pieper could’ve diagnosed it. He realized we live in a world of “total work.” There can be no time wasted, no time that isn’t dedicated to something. Even relaxation is intended primarily as a way to rejuvenate ourselves for more work. I know a few people who seem to have caught onto this existential problem. They enjoy themselves at every opportunity, and they don’t care if the enjoyment leaves themselves exhausted on Monday morning. These people are more blessed than the rest of us slaves to the world of total work, but even they wouldn’t make it on Pieper’s blessed list. Yes, they’re not prostituting leisure to work, but neither is their leisure true leisure. Leisure is leisure because it intends nothing, accomplishes nothing. It’s not on a bucket list crusade. It’s not on a drunken crusade. It’s not on a squeeze-every-moment-out-of-life crusade. Leisure is blessed because it does nothing. When we do nothing, we become receptive because we can listen. And the things we hear? Those are the things that make leisure blessed.

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Funny Fallon

A family in Colorado was reunited with their lost bulldog, after it was found 500 miles away. In response, the bulldog was like, “Jeez, can’t these people take a hint?”

A new study found that pigeons can actually recognize human faces. So I guess my pigeon friend was just blowing me off the other day in Starbucks.

Ford has a new technology to help keep a car in its lane on the highway. They say it works great — until you want to exit the highway.… Read the rest

Friday

Mini-Review

Studies in Classic American Literature by D. H. Lawrence (1923).

Choice quote: “I should think the American admiration of five-minutes tourists has done more to kill the sacredness of old European beauty and aspiration than multitudes of bombs would have done.”

Yeah, I know: D. H. Lawrence among Catholic literary criticism? Definitely. Lady Chatterley may have been early porn, but this work is a classic. It’s about literature, yes, but also Tocquevillian in its approach to American society and culture. Heck, it’s even metaphysical at times, touching on vampires, evil, and the soul. One of my favorite lines: “There is such a thing as evil belief; a belief that one cannot do wrong.” I’ve been making the same emphasis for thirty years in my ceaseless war against progressives. When reading Lawrence, I’m reminded of that spiritual dwarfism doesn’t mean a person can’t be an intellectual giant, disconcerting though the juxtaposition might be. Even more disconcerting: Lawrence knew frauds. He saw right through Ben Franklin when he said that he wouldn’t let Ben turn him “into a virtuous little automaton.” Said Lawrence, “I am a moral animal. But I am not a moral machine.” You can’t beat stuff like that, and you can’t beat this book of literary criticism. It’s one of those rare books that entertain, yet make you feel smart for reading it.

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Funny Fallon

Over the weekend, a man in Tennessee was kicked out of a Kenny Chesney concert because he looked too much like Kenny Chesney. That actually happens a lot — in fact, my grandma was kicked out of an Aerosmith concert for looking too much like Steven Tyler.… Read the rest

Thursday

Mini-Review

Introduction: If you find these reviews bizarre yet orthodox, I have accomplished my goal. If you find them entertaining yet profound, I am humbled. If they brings you a little closer to classic works of the twentieth century, I am gratified. If you forward the review to friends with a kind word, I’m flattered. If you catch a whiff (but only a whiff) of Sound-and-the-Fury stream of consciousness, you’re smart. If you have troubles squaring the choice quotes at the beginning with the subsequent rambler, you’re trying to square a circle. If some of the ramblings seem disjointed, they are. Are these reviews more artistic than substantive? Most certainly. Might you find them frustrating at times? Sure. If you don’t, I didn’t meet my goal.

The Restoration of Christian Culture by John Senior (1983).

Choice quote: “Well, if unlike myself, you always do your best at honest work, practice steady prayer and accept the trials of daily life with a merry heart, the saints say that at the hour of death the walls of your interior mansion suddenly become like crystal and the white radiance of the presence of God shines through.”

Are you married? Then you owe a tithe of your time to prayer. Because we have 24 hours in the day, we owe 2.4 hours to prayer, or about two and a half hours. That’s what Senior daunts. But a quibble: Is it a tithe on gross income or net income? Is it a tithe on total hours or waking hours? On total hours or available hours? Is it my fault I need eight hours of sleep a day instead of none? … Read the rest

Wednesday

Mini-Review

Introduction: If you find these reviews bizarre yet orthodox, I have accomplished my goal. If you find them entertaining yet profound, I am humbled. If they brings you a little closer to classic works of the twentieth century, I am gratified. If you forward the review to friends with a kind word, I’m flattered. If you catch a whiff (but only a whiff) of Sound-and-the-Fury stream of consciousness, you’re smart. If you have troubles squaring the choice quotes at the beginning with the subsequent rambler, you’re trying to square a circle. If some of the ramblings seem disjointed, they are. Are these reviews more artistic than substantive? Most certainly. Might you find them frustrating at times? Sure. If you don’t, I didn’t meet my goal.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1955).

Choice quote: “We’ve finally got to heaven. It couldn’t be cooler, it couldn’t be grander, it couldn’t be anything.”

The elves of Middle Earth longed for the sea, even if they didn’t know it. A wood elf might spend his entire eviternal existence without experiencing the longing, but once he did, the yearning hurt. They were meant–programmed, if you’re software inclined; hard-wired, if you’re hardware inclined–for the Undying Lands, and that meant intuitively longing for the sea. And so it is with American elves. Always, everywhere, Americans have loved movement. It didn’t start with Ford. It started with the Erie Canal. Heck, it started with the wagon and shoes. Even our aboriginal predecessors were on the moccasin move, displacing each other from their lands. Perhaps there’s something about America that prompts movement. I mean that literally: There might be a mystic force … Read the rest

The Evening Eudemon

From the current issue of New York Magazine:

In Hell’s Kitchen recently, two overweight tourists caused a pedicab to tip over backward. TDE comment: It’s a phenomenon slated to increase. A study released this week says that 33% of all Americans are now obese.

In Central Park, a dog can now be rented for $15 an hour. TDE comment: That’s kinda surprising. Dogs are in abundant supply. Kids are cheap. How much to rent a kid?

In Sweden, a 61-year-old man who was relieving himself in the woods was caught on tape being knocked over by a bear chasing an elk. NYM comment: “Could’ve happened to any of us.” TDE comment: Definitely me, a man with a penchant for outdoor urination.

Jason Alexander (George on Seinfeld) got in hot water for calling cricket “gay.” TDE comment: Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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Tuesday

Mini-Review

Introduction: If you find these reviews bizarre yet orthodox, I have accomplished my goal. If you find them entertaining yet profound, I am humbled. If they brings you a little closer to classic works of the twentieth century, I am gratified. If you forward the review to friends with a kind word, I’m flattered. If you catch a whiff (but only a whiff) of Sound-and-the-Fury stream of consciousness, you’re smart. If you have troubles squaring the choice quotes at the beginning with the subsequent rambler, you’re trying to square a circle. If some of the ramblings seem disjointed, they are. Are these reviews more artistic than substantive? Most certainly. Might you find them frustrating at times? Sure. If you don’t, I didn’t meet my goal.

The Silence of St. Thomas by Josef Pieper (1953).

Choice quote: “What is self-evident is not discussed.”

Few things slap a person in the face like St. Thomas’s silence. It’s a stunning rebuke to everyone, everywhere. Do you, writer, hope to create something as great as The Summa? Do you, reader, think you’ll gain any insight that Thomas didn’t glean? Do you, newspaper reader, think that stuff isn’t straw? Do you, modern man, think all this ephemeral stuff is real, much less important? Do you, dude typing right now, think this has any relevance anywhere? Bring on Fahrenheit 451’s firemen!?!? They say John Fisher kept a picture of a dead man in front of him while he ate. I hear Theophan the Recluse kept a picture of a man in a coffin in his room. Both reminded them of death. Good practice. But I’d like to keep a … Read the rest