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November 30, 2023

Four Female Philosophers

His four magi, emerging from the material, moral, social, and political wreckage wrought by the First World War, grasped that philosophy had to be utterly reimagined.

Exactly. All the decent philosophers in the twentieth century knew modern thought was broken and had to be plowed under. The only sane approach was adopted by the neo-Thomists like Pieper and Gilson, but I respect any thinkers, even reprobates like Rand and de Beauvoir (and Foucault), who had the honesty to acknowledge that the Cartesian and Baconian Highways had done great damage and needed to be torn up.

The Visionaries: Arendt, Beauvoir, Rand, Weil, and the Power of Philosophy in Dark Times
Robert Zaretsky at The American Scholar

November 29, 2023

Picture Books for Adults

This is a delightful piece from Public Books. I especially liked this observation about how medieval monks would read:

This form of reading, de Hamel says, is one reason why so many medieval manuscripts have richly decorated pages. The decorations “helped impress a page visually in the reader’s memory,” helping him to meditate later upon the revelatory passage. 

I think we could all use a little more of this. I suspect it's one reason documentaries are so popular these days: we need the visuals to go along with the words. Words alone are not enough because words alone are left-hemisphere alone. The images bring the right hemisphere into play.

That, anyway, is my theory. I'll have to look for corroboration from McGilchrist later, but I'm confident I'll find it (since I know he agrees with the first part of my formulation; to wit, that the left hemisphere uses language as the vehicle to carry out its explicit reasoning).

During Advent, I put the beautiful A Medieval Christmas on my study's coffee table and use it while praying the rosary. Or sometimes I just read it. Either way, it gives you a good idea of what those medieval monks were doing. (Two other recommended books in this regard: Splendors of the Rosary and The Message of St. Francis)

This is Your Brain on Books
Elyse Graham at Public Books

November 28, 2023

Young Michael Rodney Makes an Appearance

I've been watching Mad Men. I'd love to hear Madison Avenue discussions today about how to turn around the WNBA's poor image. We're talking about a product that started out at "1" on a scale of 1-10 and now, after a punishing advertising campaign over the past 25 years, the product might be lower than 1. Sure, attendance and ratings appear to be improving over the past few years (but I don't believe the stats, since they're being reported by the same people who have told us women's basketball is as good as men's basketball . . . people who gaslight can't be trusted . . . Exhibit A: The Federal government). But prior to the relentless 25-year PR campaign, the WNBA wasn't a punching bag joke.

Boys are Not Girls and Women are Not Men
No Matter How Hard We Try

November 27, 2023


Just this Briefly piece today, courtesy of a TDE reader who is identified here as "W. James." He sent the piece last month, but I forgot to run it until I saw that Audible is selling the first two volumes of Book of the New Sun for just $2.50 each (Cyber-Monday deal).

Why You Should Care about Gene Wolfe
He’s the author of Book of the New Sun, which is massive but which I just finished and which is incredible, full of implicit Catholic theology, Greek philosophy, and mythology. Some of his biggest literary influences were Chesterton and Tolkien. He’s also a convert, whose conversion followed the sa…
The Shadow of the Torturer
Check out this great listen on The Shadow of the Torturer is the first volume in the four-volume epic, the tale of a young Severian, an apprentice to the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession - showing mercy towards his v..…

November 26, 2023

The White Carpets in My House Aren't Faring Well, but It's Alright

Seven grandchildren, three and under. Three in the past three months.

November 25, 2023

Big Ag is Killing Us

I Think It's Time to Go Organic, but the USDA Makes It Very Difficult by Allowing Dishonest Food Labeling . . . at the Behest of Big Ag and to the Detriment of American Citizens

My doctor takes a sane approach. During consultation, he discusses nutrition, weight loss, and exercise, but has no objection to prescribing drugs if that's what the situation merits.

My blood numbers are very good across the board, except for a cholesterol reading that, given my family history, is a bit high. He said he thinks I should go on a low-dose statin, but he agreed with my objection: "There are a lot of potential side effects." He said he's not a big fan of statins and thinks they might be over-prescribed, but sometimes, he said, the situation calls for them. He said I'm a close call, to do my own research, and he'd respect whatever I decide since both options (statin or no statin) are reasonable right now.

He also suggested I drop 5-10 more pounds and cut out all processed food, including all ordinary meat and dairy. He said everything he sees and reads indicates that truly organic meat and dairy could make a big difference and I would have a shot at beating the cholesterol without statins, which is by far the best option. He said he doubts organic vegetables make much difference, but since I grow my own, I should continue; it probably help a little.

The problem is, however, the USDA and Big Ag. Americans are increasingly aware that processed foods are killing them, so they're willing to pay more for organic. Big Ag sees the trend, so Big Ag has convinced the USDA to allow them to label things as "organic" when they're not really organic. It's a huge problem, and just one of the many ways that the federal government has become a gang of bandits that, literally, kill Americans if it serves their true bosses: big business.

Oiling the Chicken Machine
Garth Brown at The New Atlantis

The Game

There have been doozies and there have been doozies. Today's UM-OSU game might be the doosiest. UM is healthy, except for JJ McCarthy, who is hobbled, depending on whom you ask. OSU, on the other hand, is 100% healthy.

I don't get too caught up in sports, but I'd be lying to deny this looming game has occupied way too much of my mental world over the past few weeks.

Son Max, a sophomore at UM, got in line at 7:00 AM this morning to get a good seat. Look for him in the maize suit. My nieces are undergrads there and say he's a fixture on the Michigan jumbotron these days. I really ought to insist that he wear Daily Eudemon gear as a partial offset against my semi-annual tuition payment.

Happy Thanksgiving

Annual Thanksgiving Day Quotes
“Thanksgiving Day originated in New England when the Puritans realized they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians.” Mark Twain “Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation; you do not find it among gross people.” S…

November 21, 2023

It Neareth

The holidays loom. Family members are arriving; tension builds. Expect slow blogging over the next few days, though there will be the Special Commemorative Black Wednesday Brews You Can Use column tomorrow.

Today, I posted a "Briefly" piece I wrote many years, as well as a recent newsletter piece. Enjoy.

November 20, 2023

Something to be Thankful For

Enrollment at Catholic Colleges Skyrockets While Secular Enrollment Plummets
CV NEWS FEED // A new report shows that a handful of Catholic colleges and universities are seeing their enrollment numbers skyrocket, bucking the overall trend…

TDE Just Trying to Help the Beleagured Mothers Out There

41 Side Dishes for the Best Thanksgiving Dinner EVER
Stuffing and sauces, rolls and casseroles, this recipe collection has it all.

Monday Column

The Stoics and Me
The Stoics and Me

November 19, 2023

Math Created the Modern World

This is a great historical tie into Part II of Existence Strikes Back and its observation that modernity's momentum began to build in the 13th century, as Western civilization's capacity for control increased. Magic and science were twins in the cradle of modernity. This essay points out that it was really a set of triplets: Magic, Science, and Math.

From Renaissance “Follow the Magic” to Modernity “Follow the Science”
The Renaissance Believed in Magic Like Moderns Believe in Science
How Mathematics Built the Modern World
Bo Malmberg & Hannes Malmberg at Works in Process

November 18, 2023

Contraceptives May Slow Brain Development And Increase Risk-Taking Behavior In Teens, Study Suggests
Disrupting hormonal activity during puberty could “potentially shift the trajectory of some of those developmental processes...”

November 17, 2023

Brews You Can Use

Count Me In I love everything about Christmas. I even like its commercialization. And I love gin. The problem is, I’m not sure it’s available in the U.S. Gordon’s Unveils Sugar Plum Gin Liqueur Just in Time for Holiday ImbibingAs the holiday season approaches, there’s no better

November 16, 2023

Modern Things

Modernity is the Era of the Left Hemisphere. It's no coincidence that we have all these cool gadgets.

Motorized Ox-Carts
Peter Hitchens at The Lamp

November 15, 2023

We're All Metaxy Men, Whether We Recognize It or Not

Like Gatsby—and like Fitzgerald himself—the human person yearns to “romp . . . like the mind of God,” to transcend the world of gin and sex, of mansions and parties, of the millions of dollars ready to be made here in the American Dream.
Gatsby: Grasping for Transcendence
Frank DeVito at Front Porch Republic

November 14, 2023

I'm Not a Fan of Horror Films, but . . .

Those who don't hate where they ought to hate can't love where they ought to love.

Those who can't see truth can't see falsity.

Those who can't recognize the grotesque can't recognize the beautiful.

And besides, if we didn't live in the Metaxy, we wouldn't know horror at all, at least not of the supernatural sort.

An Encyclopedia of Curiosities and Horrors
Filip Bakardzhiev at VoegelinView

November 13, 2023

Has the Rabble Breached Another Wall in the Castle of High Culture?
The New Criterion properly considers itself an urbane journal of the arts. With this, comes a commitment to first-rate style, without regard to the Idiocracy that is overwhelming our culture. But I saw something interesting (or disturbing, depending on whether one cheers this cultural secular bear…

Monday Column

This week's piece is a bit more experimental (and, therefore, less finished) than I'd like, but hey, these ongoing efforts to integrate The Hemisphere Hypothesis into ESB is a process.

And it's pretty short, so it shouldn't cause readers too much pain.

We Don’t Know What Consciousness is Because We Don’t Know What the Tao Is
Your consciousness is what it’s like to be you. It’s your experiences of color and sound and smell; your feelings of pain, joy, excitement or tiredness. It’s what makes you a thinking, sentient being rather than an unfeeling mechanism. Philip Goff, Scientific American Science is stumped: It

November 11, 2023

Why the CIA No Longer Works: A Disgusting 11-Year History of its Politicization.

How to Fix It: A Quixotic Notion

I'm afraid that, once something is politicized, it stays politicized. I could be wrong, but I believe politicization is a one-way ratchet. You'd have better luck getting eleven years of accumulated cat urine out of a 1970s shag carpet than you would be getting eleven years of accumulated politicization out of the CIA.

Why the CIA No Longer Works—and How to Fix It
Charles S. Faddis at Hillsdale College

November 10, 2023

Brews You Can Use

Another Modern Drunkard Magazine tribute

November 9, 2023

And 90 Seconds Later, I Knew Who I Was Supporting in 2024

Vivek gets it: A Republican party that plays with mainstream tools is merely a part of the Establishment. Primarily, because it is part of the Establishment, but that needs to change if we want a real choice in this country. Vivek might be the man.

“Dick Cheney In 3-Inch Heels”: Vivek Takes No Prisoners During GOP Debate, Savages Haley, DeSantis And NBC Moderators
“Kristen I’m going to use this time to ask you if the Trump collusion hoax that you pushed on this network for years, was that real or was that Hillary Clinton, made up disinformation?”

I saw this great passage a while back. I can't locate it, so I'll merely attribute it to "John Taylor the Arator."

"If you hate another person because of his politics, don't look to your right or to your left. Look up."

I very strong argument could be made that centralized government today hollows out the Christian spirit. Heck, it's not just an argument: it's a fact. I'll add it to my list of essays that need to be written.

Must Read

A cartel will decide the US election
Challengers to the status quo are always purged
A recent study — with more than 1,700 variables — found that economic elites dominate the policy process in the US so thoroughly that average citizens and activist groups ultimately have “little or no independent influence”. Put another way: people without wealth and connections no longer have any representation in American politics. Party politics is little more than elaborate theatre formulated to make proles believe they have a voice.
It has been fascinating to watch celebrity presidential candidates — Robert F. Kennedy Jr, Cornel West, Marianne Williamson — all having to face up to the fact that there’s no effective method of challenging this cartel. Independent US media is stronger than ever, but older generations (who vote in the largest numbers) still have almost no exposure to it. Even if outsiders are willing to sacrifice their reputations on the altar of “speaking truth to power”, all avenues to getting new ideas into full national circulation are barricaded. The positive media attention Bernie Sanders’s insurgent 2016 presidential campaign received was a fluke. Trump and Senator Sanders were provided with hundreds of hours of “earned media” on cable news, and even mainstream talk shows, only by virtue of party elites’ vainglorious overconfidence in Hillary Clinton. That mis-step will not be repeated any time soon.

The Harlem Globetrotters have to let the Washington Generals score to keep up the appearance of a real game.

Members Only Post Today

If you're a member and the site doesn't log you in, just click and ask for an email. You shouldn't have to reset your password or undergo any other form of menital mutilation. The site should just send you an email with a link, which you click, and then you're back in.

That Inscription at the Temple of Apollo Won’t Go Away
Pretty much everyone agrees we need self-knowledge. The problem is, our left hemispheres hinder it and we are a culture of left-hemispheric presumptions.

November 8, 2023

Gaza Coverage

Just FYI: Breaking Points is doing great work on the Gaza crisis, in my opinion. I'm not much of a news hound (like Nassim Taleb, I figure any really important developments will reach me, despite my best efforts to keep out the noise), but it's hard not to take a little notice these days.

Look for the originals, Krystal and Saagar, who represent left and right respectively, but are pretty cool to the other side. I'd avoid the second string hosts, one-half of which is Ryan Grim, who is something of an ideologue and incapable of the "partial-impartiality" that, I think, marks Krystal and Saagar's appealing approach.

Rethinking Economics

I strongly lean libertarian, which means I strongly lean towards being a dick, since I'm stunned at how many libertarians are obnoxious (with notable exceptions, like Tom Woods and Lew Rockwell). Read the rest:

Rethinking Economics
I strongly lean libertarian, which means I strongly lean towards being a dick, since I’m stunned at how many libertarians are obnoxious (with notable exceptions, like Tom Woods and Lew Rockwell). I believe it’s because libertarian thinking is marked by unshakeable certitude and logical conclusions,…
Markets and the Good: Thinking Beyond the Tyranny of Economics
Jay Tolson at The Hedgehog Review

Brad Birzer provides nifty nutshells for ten books from the Western Canon

Books That Make Us Human
Here are books that ask their readers to remember that which makes us human, that which matters most. (essay by Bradley Birzer)

November 7, 2023


I set aside 90 minutes every morning for "deep work." I read for about 15 minutes then work on a piece of writing. I was going to work on a piece about Thomas Sowell and then this essay came along and hijacked almost an hour of my session.

But it was worth it.

Mushrooming to a New Religious Understanding?
Tuesday mornings are hard on me for some reason, but this morning, delight hit me from three angles, thanks to this one essay. Delight One: Bookman It comes from The University Bookman, one of the first subscription journals I read (my Dad subscribed and I started reading it when I

Added to my Christmas wishlist:

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

November 6, 2023

Monday Column

These Monks Were on a Search-and-Destroy Mission Against Their Left Hemispheres
It’s hard to admit this, but here goes: Back in my twenties, I decided I wanted to be a mystic. Such a thing is absurd: The goal is foiled by the goal. You might as well decide you want to be a poor man with money (one of Pablo Picasso’

November 5, 2023

If Man is Meant for Work, and AI Eliminates the Need for Work, What Becomes of Man?

I think that's what Elon is getting at.

But is AI going to pick the pumpkins off the ground or weed the vegetable beds? When Elon talks, I listen, even though I often find him misguided. This is one of those times, but I'll continue to listen.

In his recent appearance on Joe Rogan, btw, he lays into the culture of death. Go to minute 30 or so. He says extinctionists can go to hell, speculates the George Soros simply hates human kind, and points out that the earth can support 12 times more people than currently live here. I could practically feel Paul Ehrich shaking with rage.

“Be Careful What You Wish For” - Musk Warns ‘No Jobs Needed’ In Future Of AI “Magic Genie”
“There will come a point where no job is needed. You can have a job if you want to have a job for personal satisfaction, but the AI will be able to do everything.”

George Orwell Wasn't Easy to Live With

A new biography about his wife, who was the breadwinner and caregiver to their adopted child and all-around mule to the author, is none too kind to Mr. Blair. The new bio is another feminist screed against patriarchy, and the reviewer here is sympathetic to such screeds, and such things have grown as tiresome as "Ike jokes" had become in the 1970s, but it's an interesting read.

Down and Out - The American Scholar
A woman excised from her eminent husband’s story

We Can't Beat on the Transgender Nonsense Too Often or Too Hard

Our culture's love of ugliness might just be yet another sign of our left hemispheric culture. If we don't accept transgenderism, might we just embrace ugliness elsewhere?

"Many elements to be found in modern art are, in fact, strikingly similar to distortions experienced in right hemisphere damage" McGilchrist, The Matter with Things, p. 261
‘Gender-Affirming Care Is Dangerous. I Know Because I Helped Pioneer It.’
My country, and others, found there is no solid evidence supporting the medical transitioning of young people. Why aren’t American clinicians paying attention?

November 4, 2023

They're Not the Rump Rangers

A reader sends this:

"Fun fact: The Texas Rangers are the only MLB franchise who didn't hold a Pride Night this year."

We'll need to keep this at the level of a "Fun Fact" (well, maybe a "Fun Fact with a Cautious Wink"), lest we end up savaged by Voltaire, who fumed at any notion that Providence was at play in the horrible 1755 Lisbon earthquake. It'd border on the idiotic to think Providence let the Rangers win because they refused Gomorrah.

But they did win the Series after losing Scherzer and Garcia in the third game . . .

A Tolkien Leitmotif of The Hemisphere Hypothesis Tag

It's for "Members Only." If you are a member and the software asks you to sign in, my apologies. But: You should only have to input your email. The software kicked me out and told me to sign in, but that's all I had to do (re-type the email address I used to become a member).

Slay Your Orc, Then Read Your Poetry
Eric Scheske

November 3, 2023

Brews You Can Use

Probably the most ribald BYCU of the past few years.

Giving a Whole New Meaning to the “Rear Naked Choke” And the “Reverse Mount,” the “Rear Mount,” the “Full Mount,” the “Arm Drag,” and the “Whizzer” I was cracking up, just reading through a UFC glossary. Can you imagine how much fun Late Night would’ve had with this before Kimmel

November 1, 2023

All Saints Day

All Saints Day is here. Rejoice! There's hope for all of us. Sainthood isn't just for those canonized. The Francises, Theresas, and other show-offs. Today, we celebrate all those saints we don't know about: everyone in heaven who isn't canonized.

Go to Mass. It's an obligation. If it helps, consider it a subpoena. If someone calls my office and asks (annoyed) whether he really has to go to court in response to a subpoena, one of my partners says, "It's not an invitation." Today's Mass isn't an invitation. If you miss today, you could have serious problems. In the words of John Zmirak in his splendid The Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living:

Yes, skipping church today is in fact a mortal sin--and one of the dullest in the book. Can you imagine being damned for blowing off the twenty-six minute liturgy at your parish? You'd be the laughing stock of hell.

Front Porch Republic

If you weren't aware, Front Porch Republic is the Internet's premier proponent of localism. Bill Kauffman started it (with others, if memory serves). Though he doesn't make a lot of appearances there, the site is in the talented hands of Jeff Bilbro, who puts together an excellent weekly aggregate of localism pieces, "The Water Dipper."

This morning's feature attacks, of all things, the flush toilet. The author starts with praises from a handful of economists that I admire. He then responds.

The flush toilet is a wonderful vehicle for demonstrating how modernist solutions are exquisitely primed to turn assets into liabilities under the guise of progress while disconnecting us from the real implications of our actions. The solution creates new problems, which then require more innovation to solve, which in turn leads to new problems. Toilets flush away the nutrients needed to renew the fertility of the soil, in the process contaminating communities downstream. Even when we do understand the importance of closing the carbon cycle, the practice of spreading biosolids from wastewater treatment plants as fertilizer has led to the contamination of prime agricultural land with “forever” chemicals, including PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals), which have been linked to a whole host of health problems. And, of course, flush toilets and sewage systems assume that communities have the financial resources and political stability to maintain them in good working order, which, given reports about the long-term success of humanitarian-aid sanitation projects, is a big if. NGOs boast about how many toilets they have installed but are much quieter when discussing how few are working a year later.

He then turns his sights on disposable diapers. It's worth reading.

Modernity is a Dirty Diaper - Front Porch Republic
Modernity has become permanently liquid; it no longer seeks solid replacements to the pre-modern world but finds greater value in transience, not just of institutions and things, but of human relationships too.
The Smallest of Seeds: A Review of Fragile Neighborhoods
Christian McNamara at Front Porch Republic

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