Month: September 2014

Philosophy Now

I have a piece coming out shortly in Philosophy Now, a pop philosophical magazine published in London. Starting on Labor Day, they gave me free access to online content. I’ve been greatly enjoying it, so much so that I’ll be tempted to subscribe once my coupon expires.

One of their more popular pieces was written in 2007 by Tim Delaney, “Pop Culture: An Overview” (subscription required). I found this passage useful for filling out some vague notions I had about the rise of mass society:

Through most of human history, the masses were influenced by dogmatic forms of rule and traditions dictated by local folk culture. Most people were spread throughout small cities and rural areas – conditions that were not conducive to a ‘popular’ culture. With the beginning of the Industrial era (late eighteenth century), the rural masses began to migrate to cities, leading to the urbanization of most Western societies.

Urbanization is a key ingredient in the formation of popular culture. People who once lived in homogeneous small villages or farms found themselves in crowded cities marked by great cultural diversity. These diverse people would come to see themselves as a ‘collectivity’ as a result of common, or popular, forms of expression. Thus, many scholars trace the beginning of the popular culture phenomenon to the rise of the middle class brought on by the Industrial Revolution.

Industrialization also brought with

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GKC Wednesday

Background: When I was the editor of Gilbert Magazine, I was responsible for the “Tremendous Trifles” column. It was occasionally hard to find a sufficient amount of interesting GKC material to fill the page, so John Peterson sent me a file full of Chesterton ancedotes. They were idiosyncratic, historical, and Chestertonian. He gave me permission to use them here. I hope y’all find them as interesting as I have over the years. Most of them have never been published.

Chesterton Short(s)

According to biographer Brian Boyd’s recent biography, in 1909 the Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov, then a ten-year-old youngster in St. Petersburg, found few chances to practice his English. He kept up his proficiency by reading the English fiction of Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad, Oscar Wilde and G.K. Chesterton. [The Russian Years, Princeton: 1990, p. 79]… Read the rest

Good Late Night

Some sad news from the world of reality TV. Mama June and Sugar Bear from “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” are splitting up. Their lawyers are citing unintelligible differences. Fallon

The White House has re-evaluated its security and today they announced they’ll start locking the front door. They’re also going to start asking who’s there when someone knocks. Conan

In another celebrity photo leak, nude photos of Kim Kardashian have been posted to the Internet. Kim said she’d be very embarrassed if only she knew how. Conan… Read the rest


Ruminations on the Fall of Rome

Belloc’s Europe and the Faith highlights two angles of the height and fall of the Roman Empire that do not receive much explicit attention, despite the oceans of ink that are spilled on the subject of Rome’s demise every year.

Angle One: Rome’s Zenith

The Roman Empire was the vehicle of western civilization and culture. It inherited the best in culture–art, philosophy, literature, political theory–from the Greeks, while absorbing under its umbrella the Chosen People from Judea and scores of other peoples, ranging from Celts to Copts.

Rome was the greatest civilization ever known. In size, comprehensiveness, diversity, culture: none has ever come close. That point must constantly–constantly–be borne in mind. It is important to understand the larger point that, in my opinion, drove Belloc’s book: Rome, the Roman Empire, played a crucial part in the Providential plan.

By unifying the world under a cultural umbrella that made travel possible, caused news to spread more quickly than it had ever spread before, made thought and leisure conversation and philosophy possible, it made the world ready for its savior.

Angle Two: Rome’s Fall

The Catholic Church—The Roman Catholic Church—inherited what was left of Rome. As the Empire fell, its soul passed into the Church. This might be the closest the Church gets to embracing the Shirley-Maclaine-like transmigration of souls, and it highlights a very important point: The Catholic Church is … Read the rest



Probably Tantric Buddhists. They take that “emptiness” thing to extremes: “Two Cambodian Buddhist monks have been arrested in the popular tourist city of Siem Reap for smoking crystal methamphetamine along with two women in their pagoda. The room of Pich David, 36, who has a history of erratic behaviour in the Buddhist community of Pur Langka, in Slakram commune, was raided by police who found alcohol, condoms and a pipe for smoking Ice, the other name used to describe the extremely addictive stimulant drug.” Link.… Read the rest