August 31, 2023
Kauffman in Scranton
An essay by Bill Kauffman always triggers my forefinger. He's a man with a robust right hemisphere, or at least a severe distrust of his left and the conditions/presumptions created by a culture of left-hemisphere dominance.
In this piece, Kauffman expresses reservations about the American itch for travel. It reminds me Alain de Botton's disappointment upon arriving at his vacation destination in The Art of Travel: "I had inadvertently brought myself with me to the island."
I like to see new places, but I try to appreciate the old ones more.
August 30, 2023
The attack on free speech is one of the end-games being played by our rogue left hemispheres. Only a rogue left hemisphere could think it has mastered reality to a sufficient degree that warrants the suppression of different worldviews and opinions.
August 29, 2023
Oliver Anthony: Revolt Against the Gnostics?
August 28, 2023
August 27, 2023
Shintoists Aiming to Catch Catholics and Mormons
August 26, 2023
August 25, 2023
August 24, 2023
The Importance of Leisure
Most everyone craves leisure these days. I think it's because we all intuit that we are in a war against the left hemisphere and leisure is a stalwart soldier of the right hemisphere in its attempt to reclaim its throne.
August 23, 2023
Bill Kauffman Sighting
Bill Kauffman reflects on one of my favorite recording artists, right before he went politically correct commercialist in 1984 with Born in the U.S.A. (though, honestly, I loved that album and still do . . . it was commercialized, yes, but Springsteen's political subserviency didn't come until a little bit later).
His external influences [for the album "Nebraska"] were the stories of Flannery O’Connor and Terrence Malick’s film Badlands, loosely based on the 1958 killing spree of Charles Starkweather.
August 22, 2023
Welcome to Grandchild Number Five
Lorenzo Scheske, born 8/20/2023. Mother and child are doing fine. Father is happy. Grandfather is doing alright, too (it was a lot of work, sitting at home, checking my texts for updates).
August 21, 2023
We change the market by participating in it. Likewise, we change reality by existing. How we change reality depends on how we attend to reality.
August 19, 2023
Just some gardening advice for your weekend.
August 18, 2023
August 17, 2023
A Distributist Who Ignores Hudge and Gudge?
I can't support any regulatory approaches until we can address something as flagrantly wrong as SNAP bridge cards at Kentucky Fried Chicken
It's hard to say whether Sohrab Ahmari is a distributist or whether he ignores the problem of Hudge and Gudge, but based on this laudatory essay, he seems ignorant that the biggest problem with big government is that big business will use it to enrich both.
I'm afraid my reflection on this essay ran long . . . too long for the Scrolling Blog or even the "Briefly" section. You can read the rest of it here.
August 16, 2023
America is Strange
I finished Asteroid City last night. Wow. It's awful . . . or so artistic, the cinematic Neanderthal can't appreciate it. It is strange and America is strange, so there's that.
August 15, 2023
Benedictine College Video
I met this guy last Saturday as I drove my youngest onto Benedictine's campus for the first time. I didn't know who he was, but he stopped my car, introduced himself as "Steve Minnis," and greeted Tess. As we drove away, we were trying to figure out who he was. I said, "He said 'Steve M something.'" Tess said the college president is Steve M something. I said, "College presidents are pretentious asses. There's no way that was the president."
I was wrong.
And after watching this video, I'm very pleased my daughter is part of what's happening in Kansas.
Striking: The College was dying in the early 1990s: enrollment had dropped under 600. It's now at 2,200. It correctly forecast that regional colleges weren't going to be able to survive, so it positioned itself as a national liberal arts college, eschewed the awful Land O'Lake's Statement, and consecrated itself to Mary. The results have been stunning.
The New Wes Anderson Film
I watched most of it last night. I'll finish it tonight. I can't say I'm a huge fan, but at least it's different. There's one gay love scene, but it's brief and not out of character for the bizarre film. If you decide to watch it, I think this review will help. Without it, quite frankly, I would've found the thing unwatchable.
August 14, 2023
A Fellow Epstein Admirer on Joe's Most Recent Offering
He likes it, but expresses concerns that there's too much fluff. I'm afraid that seems to match my impressions of recent offerings, almost like those rock acts that reach their peak of authenticity, then decide to go commercial and milk it as much as possible on the other side of the peak (my favorite example: ZZ Top with El Loco in 1981, followed by Eliminator in 1983 (only a partial "sell-out") and then their wholesale dumpster fire sale with Afterburner in 1985 . . . Many commentators have the same view of Bob Seger's Night Moves (1976), then his partial sell-outs Stranger in Town (1978) and Against the Wind (1980), with full-scale sell-outs The Distance (1982) and Like a Rock 1986)).
But overall, I agree with the writer's opinion about Epstein's greatness when he calls him "one of the great literary lives of the last half-century." I also agree with the writer's observation that, in order to taste that greatness, you have to dip into an "oddly patchwork publication history."
August 13, 2023
Return from Kansas
We took our youngest to Benedictine College this weekend.
I tell ya, summers like mine aren't for old men. I hosted a large high school graduation party, a bachelor party, and a massive wedding, where my house served as "ground zero" for all prep work. On top of that, I made an appearance at my in-laws' vacation in northern Michigan, took my own vacation (probably shouldn't have, given all my commitments), and took my daughter to Kansas for college. I have a small family gathering (about 40 people) to host this coming weekend, then I will take another child back to school (just Ann Arbor . . . two hours away) before I can put a fork in this summer.
"Regularish" blogging resumes tomorrow, but there will be no Monday column.
August 11, 2023
Brews You Can Use
August 10, 2023
Loneliness is a major problem, but governments, especially central governments, can't fix it. In fact, they cause it: By taking over functions that have traditionally been performed locally, central governments have killed millions of the institutions and associations (families, communities, churches, service clubs . . . the "little platoons" extolled by de Tocqueville and Burke) where people came together to solve a local problem and, in the process, enjoyed each others' company.
It's the reason Russian society was so bankrupt after the fall of the Soviet Union.
It was a major focus of Robert Nisbet's sociology.
And now central governments want to form task forces and bureaus to address loneliness? That's like a cat-housing husband hiring a private detective to find out who keeps giving his wife the clap. Or, better, a tyrant seizing even more of his subjects' grain so he can fund a ministry to investigate the poverty that is ravishing his domain.
One of my favorite anecdotes
Comes from Chodorov:
When Frank Chodorov condemned the Communist hunts of the 1950s, someone asked him, "Well, what would you do about Communists in high government offices?" Chodorov responded, "Get rid of the high government offices." (Rough quotes.)
August 9, 2023
Judging (the Gerund) is a Left-Hemispheric Activity
Don't indulge it.
If you read "Outside the Modern Limits," you received a version of this essay last January. I will be publishing more of the previous newsletter pieces here over the rest of the year under my new flourishing tag, but I also plan on resuming the newsletter after I get my last child to college this weekend.
The flourishing tag collects essays for Part IV of the Existence Strikes Back project. It will contain other essays as well, but the bulk of them are supposed to clear two hurdles to be included: (1) Would one of my children enjoy them? (2) Do they help people with practical advice (don't rush, read poetry, don't judge) for thriving in our left-hemispheric culturally gnostic world?
Tess Scheske will be attending Benedictine College in Kansas. If you know any students there, shoot me an email (ericscheske @ gmail.com). I'll pass the name along.
August 8, 2023
I thought this essay would explore the nexus: child sex trafficking--the porn industry--Hollywood. Sex with children overlaps with porn and porn overlaps with Hollywood . . . and sometimes the porn part of the nexus is jettisoned altogether and children have sex with Hollywood elites.
Roman Polanski was merely one of the prosecuted, and he's still celebrated by the leftist culture that pervades Hollywood. IMDB has an entire page devoted to "Celebs Who Have Defended Roman Polanski Publically." The list isn't terribly long, but it's long enough to confirm that such a view isn't shameful in that demented circle.
Because leftists and Hollywood celebrate the sexualization of children. That's the point of this essay.
August 7, 2023
That lyric from The Who's righteous (if overplayed) song summarizes the point of this very good piece at Salon. It's not often you see TDE post an essay from that leftist e-rag, but it's not often that leftist e-rag quotes Wendell Berry and Jeff Bilbro (editor of Front Porch Republic).
The piece also has Existence Strikes Back Part III and/or IV angles. True effort, including mental, always includes the body. It is Polanyi's "tactic mode." If we are going to escape the labyrinthine prison constructed by the left hemisphere and overseen by our gnostic prison guards, we need more tactile pursuits that inherently reject Cartesian dualism (that poison that wholly separates mind and body) and the entire modern edifice constructed on it. That's why this essay belongs in Part III.
Fortunately, I believe such tactile pursuits are becoming, and will continue to become, more and more popular. If tactile pursuits are the highest pursuits, we will yearn for and find them and do them. That's why this essay belongs in Part IV.
Prediction: A pinball renaissance is coming. And based on this essay, it might already be here.
Margaret Rita (Meg) joined Leo Schlueter in matrimony two days ago. They're both graduates of Hillsdale College. His father is a professor of philosophy there. Meg's dad is, well, your scribe at TDE and an amateur philosopher, historian, and gardener.
Bride and groom come from large families. Immediate family, aunts, uncles, and first cousins alone counted for 250 guests.
It was a raucous affair, to say the least. Catholic full throttle, with the holier elements driving the Mass and the more, ahem, vigorous elements driving the reception. At one point, the DJ announced that the venue proprietor needed the crowd to stop jumping so much because the building was shaking too much . . . which brought cheers from the dance floor.
I think it will go down as one of the most (to borrow a current term) "epic" receptions ever.
I just wish I had been there to enjoy it. I say that jokingly, of course, but it was a brutal three-day run: from harvesting, 2,000 flowers on Thursday through Saturday midnight, I was constantly running: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Marie and I were both exhausted by the time the reception got here. I pulled out a Red Bull and vodka to propel me through it, but at times, I just retreated to a darker corner, sat back, and enjoyed the show. I'm not sure if I've ever been that exhausted.
Meg worked at a floral shop during high school and loves flowers. She wanted tons of flowers, which, of course, requires tons of money, or a cheap father who would rather grow them himself, so I did the latter. It was a difficult gardening year, but the effort paid off.
During my host speech, I told the guests that I grew the flowers and that the effort was fraught, but that I prayed and prayed and that the result in front of them was a testament to the power of prayer. I then added, "Of course, my kids are snickering to themselves, 'More like a testament to the power of the F-bomb.'"
We also served Coptic Lemonade as the signature drink, with mint I harvested from my garden that morning (except we used vodka, not gin). It was a huge hit.
August 5, 2023
A Celebration of D.H. Lawrence
One of my favorite books, resurrected at the New York Times. I long ago concluded the Gray Lady was just an old whore, but she still occasionally runs splendid things, like this essay. The writer took a hundred-year-old work, celebrated it, and made it contemporary. If I could spend the rest of my life doing that, I'd be content.
August 4, 2023
Brews You Can Use
August 3, 2023
Young Michael Rodney Logs In After a Short Hiatus
August 2, 2023
It's Time to Clean Up the Streets, Literally
People want homeless in their community as much as people want Hunter Biden in their office.
The problem is, the elites who can insulate themselves from the homeless push them on communities as relentlessly as they pushed Hunter Biden on America.
It's going to be hard to clean up the mess. The excrement on the pavement can be power washed, but we have that Ninth Circuit ridiculous ruling (does the 9th Circuit issue any other kind?) that holds it's a violation of the 8th Amendment to punish someone for living on the streets if they can't help it, thereby freeing millions of homeless to claim they can't help it, despite oodles of welfare and entry-level jobs.
We also have a leftist population that is still scratching its head about how the homeless initiative launched by St. Obama in 2013 could've gone so wrong, thereby freeing millions of leftists to continue to splash in their unhinged/unconstrained/incentive-blind universe.
August 1, 2023
This is an odd little piece. The author applauds gardening because it is a great example of Joseph Pieper's "active leisure." That's a great observation.
But she puts it in the context of community gardens, which, the author says, lead to people sharing produce, time, and conversation with plot neighbors. At times, the piece almost seems to applaud community gardening only, though I don't think that's the author's intent. I think the intent is to apply a different angle to Ray Oldenburg’s concept of a “third place" ("With home first and work second, Oldenburg holds that the third place—a public place of “neutral ground” for interaction--could function as an antidote to the increasing atomization encouraged by modernity and the “automobile suburbs").
Kevin Majeres suggests a different way of reading Joseph Pieper's Leisure, the Basis of Culture. He says that, wherever Pieper uses the word "leisure," substitute "mindfulness." He says it works in almost every instance throughout the book.
Mindfulness, it's worth pointing out, tends to be associated with the right hemisphere. Here's how Chap GPT explains it:
Mindfulness, as a state of focused attention and non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, is often associated with activities that activate the right hemisphere, such as meditation, introspection, and heightened sensory experiences. These practices may emphasize qualities like openness, curiosity, and interconnectedness, which align with the characteristics typically attributed to right-hemisphere processing.
I have no objection to the concept that community gardening is a mindful activity: You can be mindful in any setting or activity. But I don't think it's as "meditation-prone" as gardening by oneself, so I'm inclined to think it's less conducive to mindfulness in general.
I look at meditation as the intense exercise that leads to mindfulness. Meditation, in other words, might engage the right hemisphere more than mindfulness, with the result that a brain primed by meditation is more likely to be mindful (to have the right hemisphere engaged) throughout the day.
It is difficult to achieve a meditative state with a lot of distractions--or even the threat of distractions. That's why I'm inclined to think solo gardening is more right hemispheric--and overall more conducive to the mindfulness life--than community gardening.
But like I said, it's a lovely little piece regardless.
July 31, 2023
This week's Monday Column borrows from Taki Mag's feature, "The Week that Perished," which offers aggressive and humorous prose on the week's news items. "The Month that Perished" offers (slightly) aggressive and (hopefully) humorous prose on a handful of the month's Scrolling Blog posts. With any luck, I'll run such a piece on the last day of every calendar month, but no promises.