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A Correction to the 9/23/23 Scrolling Blog Entry

I sent Dale Ahlquist a picture of GKC's South Bend residence. Dale good-humoredly responded that I had been misinformed. GKC's house was a few blocks away from where my daughter stayed. I was at Notre Dame yesterday and wanted to walk over to it, but time ran out. Maybe next time.

This is the house where GKC stayed:

September 29, 2023

Brews You Can Use

First Spirit Named After Egyptian Eunuchian Platonic Church Father Origen Specialty Vodka | Harmony Gin | DrinkHolistic.comExplore the world of Origen Specialty Vodka and Harmony Gin, the pioneers among Herbal Liqueur Brands. Embrace a lifestyle of harmony with nature, curated by Amy Holmwood and W…

September 28, 2023

Voegelin Soldier Dies

The Voegelin community is a puzzling one.

To an outsider (i.e., to me), it seems insular but enthusiastic. It's like they're on their own island and eagerly invite others to the island but with one requirement: the others already be on the island.

And what does it mean to be on the island already?

It means you're insular in your ways and well-read in Voegelin.

Until recently, it also meant that you're an academic, but VoegelinView is doing a lot to change that. I have long maintained that Voegelin needs more vulgarizers, but I think such a thing requires a three-step (probably four-step) distillation process:

  1. Someone who is willing to write for a mass audience (the vulgarizer) needs to read Voegelin. That's hard. That's like asking someone who wants to run an ice cream parlor to be dedicated to eating vegetables. Impossible? Not at all, but they're things that run in opposite directions.
  2. The vulgarizer will then need to read academics who make Voegelin more accessible.
  3. The vulgarizer then needs to read well-read writers/thinkers who make the Voegelin academic more accessible.
  4. The vulgarizer then needs to figure out how to make it relevant or interesting to a mass audience who thinks the New York Times represents the height of erudition.

Ellis Sandoz was one of the best in the second distillation. I first read the main Voegelin corpus (New Science of Politics; Science, Politics, and Gnosticism; and the Order and History) and understood, perhaps, half of it. I then read Ellis Sandoz' The Voegelinian Revolution, which was enormously helpful but still very confusing. When I heard he died, I pulled it off the shelf and was surprised at the enormous amounts of underlining (an implication that I understood more than I remember understanding . . . if that makes sense).

In any event, the man has died and deserves to be remembered. David Walsh has written a fine biographical tribute.

In Memoriam: Ellis Sandoz
David Walsh at VoegelinView

September 27, 2023

The Need for Roots

This is a great piece at Plough, drawing de Tocqueville to diagnose the problem with democracy.

Why Are We Lonely?
Joey Hiles at Plough

The bottom line: In a static culture, a man knows his place and settles into quiet contentment. In a democratic culture, no one knows his place and is neither quiet nor content . . . and he's always on the move.

If you put it on a 1-10 continuum, the most static cultures are serfdom (or maybe graveyards): 1. The most wholesale democratic ones are the Wild West (or maybe just de Tocqueville's America in general): 10. Neither are ideal, though both have been unfairly caricatured.

The problem is, America today is increasingly registering simultaneously at 7 and 14.

Read the rest:

We’re Increasingly Lonely Because the Gnostics are Increasingly Powerful
This is a great piece at Plough, drawing de Tocqueville to diagnose the problem with democracy. The bottom line: In a static culture, a man knows his place and settles into quiet contentment. In a democratic culture, no one knows his place and is neither quiet nor content . . . and he’s

September 26, 2023

Public Intellectuals, Mencken, and an Unexpected Piece out of Yale

Middlebrow Writing
There used to be writing that was “middlebrow.” You’d find it in urbane and smart publications that were lower than academia and fine writing (highbrow) and higher than sports columnists and dimestore novels (lowbrow). It was always a limited market. When Henry Fowler self-published his own set of…

September 25, 2023

Monday Column

The Hemisphere Hypothesis Changes Everything
And since “everything” is dictated by modernity’s rationalist and gnostic presumptions and conclusions, it’s a good thing

September 23, 2023

GKC in South Bend

(Editor's Note: See correction at Scrolling Blog 10/1/23)

My daughter goes to Notre Dame. She had to move out of her house for the weekend (long story: ND-OSU game-related), so a friend said she could stay at her house for the weekend. While showing her around yesterday, the friend casually remarked that GKC lived in the house while he was a visiting lecturer at Notre Dame.

I've asked my daughter for more pics. Here's the front of the house:

September 22, 2023

Reason 2: The Screw Top Wine Bottle is Ascendent I put wine corks in the same category as neckties: Fancy vestiges whose hassles outweigh their traditional charm. Is This the Best Time Ever to Be Drinking Wine? 4 Compelling ReasonsFrom fewer corked bottles to more-adventurous approaches to obsc…

September 21, 2023

Kingsnorth Struggles for the (Non-) Words

I haven't (yet) allocated a line from my household budget to Substack subscriptions, but if I do, Paul Kingsnorth will be one of the first subscriptions (with Erik Hoel). He's a marvelous and thoughtful writer. In this piece, he seems to be grappling with many of the same themes here at TDE:

Gnosticism and Its Desire to Warp the Real Structure (the Reality Spectrum) to Fit Its Structure

I have noticed in the last few years a constant temptation to systematise Christianity; to bend it into a shape that fits a pre-existing pattern in people’s heads. This is hardly just a Christian problem, of course: it is universal. 

The Tao/Unknowability/Paradox

On words and the Word

The Importance of (non)-Doing

I am going to have to go out walking, without knowing where I will end up.
On words and the Word
Paul Kingsnorth at The Abbey of Misrule

September 20, 2023


I read paeans like this, and I think, "Man, I gotta read Shelby Foote's masterpiece." Then I think, "Frick, I first need to read Proust." And then I start thinking, which Proust translation? C.K. Scott Moncrieff's is the gold standard, but I think Joseph Epstein mentioned that a more recent translation might be better. Then I think about Moncrieff's nephew, George Scott-Moncrieff ("Scomo"), and his love for Scotland and conversion to Catholicism. I think about his lovely little book, Burke Street, and, noting it's only 70 pages (compared to, what, 1,000+ pages of Foote and Proust?) and figure I'll read that again (. . . and maybe just watch Ken Burns' Civil War).

Burke Street is a celebration/lament of old Edinburgh, or at least one area of it, or perhaps of all of old Scotland: I'm not really sure, such is the quiet mystical quality of Scomo's work. Regardless, it makes one want to see Edinburgh and avoid it at the same time.

Which reminds me of this historical observation by Joseph Epstein:

"[T]he Edinburgh Review not only put the City of Edinburgh intellectually 'on the map' but did something similar for serious journalism. . . . The Edinburgh Review paid its contributors, and paid them well enough to hold them up to standards of quality. In a letter outlining "the rocks and shoals to be avoided are religion, politics, excessive severity, and irritable Scotchmen." Pertinent Players
Shelby Foote: The South’s Jewish Proust
Blake Smith at The Tablet

September 19, 2023

I'm a bit pressed today for time, so just this little piece from a recent "Outside the Modern Limits" newsletter. Figures of Speech is probably my favorite style book of all time. I lost my only copy last year, panicked, and bought another copy, which, of course, made the lost copy show up almost immediately, so now I have two copies. I hold one in each hand while I read from it.

Figures of Speech: 60 Ways to Turn a Phrase, by Arthur Quinn
This 98-page work is the Elizabeth Bennet of style books. It might not be the most handsome style book and it might not be the smartest and it isn’t the longest and it certainly isn’t the most useful, but it is pretty and pithy and practical. It is, to be

September 18, 2023

Monday Column

The Zen of Littleness: St. Therese’s Way
💡This isn’t the second part of a 2-part series, but readers might want to read or skim this previous piece before reading this one. Dogen, the father of the Soto School of Japanese Zen, is arguably the most significant intellectual in the Zen tradition. As a young man in 1223,

Readers might notice a newer "Tag": Existence Strikes Back III. It's part of my (slow and ongoing) effort to rake back through all the ESB pieces and assemble them under one of the four ESB parts.

What are the Four Parts of Existence Strikes Back?
Preamble: Wisdom wants to know reality. A region of reality (“the Tao”) isn’t knowable. Wisdom respects reality’s unknowability while pursuing reality nonetheless. This unending pursuit reached its apex in the 13th century, then the pursuit started to decline. Modernity was the rejection of respect…

September 17, 2023

The 1990s

The current issue of First Things features a monster essay (10,000 words, I'm guessing) about the 1990s. It's very good, though you might need a subscription to access it (but I repeat what I've said before: If individual Substack authors are worth $50 a year (and many of them are), then $50 for a subscription to First Things and New Criterion are a flat-out steal).

The author points out that the "1990s" started with the Berlin Wall on 11/9/1989 and ended on 9/11/2001. The former brought the U.S. into unquestioned hegemonic power; the latter showed we're imperfect guardians of that power.

The Cold War victory, combined with a chance to redefine the economic relations that obtain among every human being on earth, was a temptation to Promethean excess. An exceptionally legalistic, hedonistic, and anti-traditional nation, the United States was poorly equipped to resist such a temptation.

One of the more sardonic passages from the essay deals with censorship. In 1994, technology experts George Gilder, Esther Dyson, George Keyworth, and Alvin Toffler, analyzing the advent of the Internet, wrote the "Magna Carta of the Knowledge Age" . . . and pretty much got everything wrong. They said the world was evolving from the "Second Wave" into the "Third Wave" and that Third Wave government would get a lot smaller, possibly by 50% or more, and that censorship would be impossible.

For government to insist on the right to peer into every computer . . . for government to influence which political viewpoints would be carried over the airwaves . . . might have made sense in a Second Wave world. . . . [It makes] no sense at all in the Third Wave.

Sign. Never underestimate the government's capacity for mischief.

I Like to Support the Troops

But the orchestrated celebration of our military throughout our culture has reached Orwellian dimensions.

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” Thank You for Your Service (TV Episode 2017) ⭐ 7.9 | Comedy
33m | TV-14

September 16, 2023

September 15, 2023

Brews You Can Use

Priming your mental pump for weekend conversation

September 14, 2023

The Flannery Revival is Officially Here

As Flannery O’Connor in ‘Wildcat,’ Maya Hawke Inhabits the Sharp Literary Chronicler of ‘White Hypocrisy’
The movie, directed by Maya’s father, Ethan, and co-starring Laura Linney, toggles between the Southern author’s own controversial biography and dramatized scenes from her stories.
The Violent Bear It Away, by Flannery O’Connor
A Micro-Review/Essay

September 13, 2023

An OtML Replay

If you've been a subscriber to "Outside the Modern Limits," you've seen this one, but it's short and, perhaps, worth reading again.

How to be Guerrilla Fighter Against Left Hemispheric Hegemony
A former marine taught me jurisprudence. Professor Charles Rice was a tough guy. This Irish man dripped with an attitude that said, “Don’t you dare call me a ‘mick.’” He was a no-nonsense guy who raised ten children and was fiercely loyal to the Catholic Church. I don’t

September 12, 2023

Young Michael Rodney Keeps the Right Hemisphere Engaged

Meg 2 Features a Diverse Cast of Original Characters
With the constant remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, sequels, threequels, prequels and spinoffs, movies have begun to feel formulaic. That’s why a movie like Meg 2: The Trench, works so well. Where other movies opt for safety in doing what has worked before, Meg 2 has the boldness to craft new

CThat, anyway, is my theory: Humor appeals to the right hemisphere.

Well, that's not really what I think. I think humor engages both hemispheres. That's what makes humor.

Humor is a juxtaposition of unexpected things and is often a case of hemispheres colliding, resulting in us laughing at the incongruity presented by each of our hemispheres.

How to be the Funny Guy
Make no doubt about it: Humor is like a frog. Once you dissect it, it’s dead.

It's where parody comes from: the way things we expect things to be (the left hemisphere's comfort zone) and then an unexpected distortion of it (the right hemisphere values the new).

The Rise of Satire
Have you heard of the Scriblerus Club? It was an authors’ club founded in London in 1714. It was known for its satiric bent. Jonathan Swift was a member. Western culture had long enjoyed satire, but there was a great satiric revival right after Descartes. Satire became huge. Can we

September 11, 2023

Monday Column

Therese Lisieux’s Little Way is Exquisitely Post-Modernist
Another postmodernist existentialist revolt against the left hemisphere and its suffocating emphasis on essence

September 9, 2023

Childhood Friends Now in Their Eighties

An unknown octagenarian comes out of nowhere in the current issue of The Lamp to take the prize for the loveliest essay of the summer. It's about growing up in Queens and growing old with a friend who is nearing death. NYC; friendship; drinking: it's a beautiful piece.

P. S. 51 to the End
Paul Hundt at The Lamp

My favorite reminiscence from the piece:

During college vacations while we still lived in the old neighborhood, we would take the IND subway to Manhattan to ice skate in Central Park, to trace Dylan Thomas’s staggering steps through various watering holes in Greenwich Village, but mostly to enjoy being in each other’s company. We were more explorers of the city than its denizens at that point. During one New York blizzard, we found a bar/restaurant in the Village that had amateur opera. On another night of wandering, we found a really neat bar with a ceiling covered in black fuzzy mold. Only recently did I discover that “Dirty Julius,” as we called it, was one of the preeminent gay bars of the closeted years. How could we have missed that?

September 8, 2023

Brews You Can Use

I greet the weekend with a grin: My Detroit Lions knocked off the reigning Super Bowl champions last night . . . at Kansas City. Yes, K.C. didn't have its second-best offensive player or its best defensive player, but still. It was a helluvan accomplishment.

My father became a big Lions fan in the 1950s, in their heyday under the great Bobby Layne. He used to say, "If you had told me I'd die without ever seeing the Lions win the championship again, I wouldn't have believed you." He died in 2009. Lately, I've been thinking, "If you had told me I'd also die without ever seeing the Lions win it all, I probably would've believed it but only with disbelief." As time marches on, I've begun to think that would be the case, but maybe not. Maybe this is the Year of the Lion.

We'll see.

State Agricultural Dysfunction that Would Make Stalin Blush Why France Must Destroy 80 Million Gallons of WineQuality French wine is expensive, and that’s if you want to drink it—who knew it would be more expensive to destroy it? As a result of a surplus of wine and a

September 7, 2023

The Amish: Foes of the Left Hemisphere

I'm ashamed to say, the connection between my Amish neighbors and the Existence Strikes Back and The Hemisphere Hypothesis projects didn't strike me until this morning.

Expect more Amish stuff at some point.

In Amish Country, Buggy Lanes Will Flank Some Rural Roads
Lonnie Lee Hood at The Daily Yonder
Off the Grid Since 1693
I live around the Amish. I invited a few to my daughter’s wedding last month. I’m currently working on a set of contracts for my largest Amish client. I live within bicycling distance of Shipshewana, which, last I knew, is Indiana’s largest tourist destination. The Amish are counter-conduct in ext…

September 6, 2023

Drink that Pint: Flex Your Right Hemisphere, Spit at that Gnostic
Pubs are closing at an alarming rate, possibly as many as 50 every month. Rising energy rates are the immediate culprit, but so is an increasing tendency among Brits to be “economical” and drink at home. It’s a problem: The death of the local pub, like the death of the


The Death of Church and Pub | Carl R. Trueman
Churches and Christians need to think about what hospitality looks like in our modern world as much as they think about other aspects of the faith.

September 5, 2023

"Monday" Column

This was the feature content in last Saturday's "Outside the Modern Limits," with a few graphics added to the bottom. I had written a regular column for today, but it wasn't quite ready, so I'll probably hold it back until next Monday.

If You Want to Flourish, Develop Your Router
Insane people often have impaired right hemispheres. Unfortunately, we probably all have impaired right hemispheres.

We Aren't Becoming a Nation of Gollums

We Are a Nation of Gollums and Gollum was One Ruthlessly Rational Sonofabitch.

Maybe future historians will refer to Modernity as "The Gollum Era" or "The Orc Era."

Are We Becoming a Nation of Gollums?
Joseph Pearce at The Imaginative Conservative

September 2, 2023

Folks are interested in the Existence Strikes Back and The Hemisphere Hypothesis projects, but I've been told the website is a bit overwhelming when you first visit it. I'm trying to make it easier for new visitors to get a handle on what they're seeing and the general themes.

The first step: The Editor's Picks section has been expanded to six pieces. Each piece has been selected because it, with the others, provides the best overview of the main ESP and HH ideas.

September 1, 2023

Happy Labor Day Weekend

The Labor Day Edition


View previous Scrolling Blogs