March 31, 2023
Brews You Can Use
Reminder: No BYCU next Friday: Good Friday
March 30, 2023
Young missionary, Michael Rodney, logs in to provide this humorous take on classical mythology.
March 29, 2023
I can hardly imagine a person more unlike me than Michel Foucault. Flaming homosexual (note the strong contrast!), Communist, French.
But man, the more glimpses I get of him, the more I like him. Thaddeus Russell first explained Foucault's appeal, so I decided to start learning about him. I like to approach harder subjects through easier genres (where I write about approaching philosophy through history), so I'm approaching Foucault through biography: The Passion of Michel.
I also keep my eyes out for any reliable endorsements, like the one I found at Law & Liberty a few days ago. It's an excellent essay. I liked it so much, I subscribed to the author's Substack blog.
I especially liked the observation that we need to kick against the pervasive governing that is the hallmark of modernity's political practice. We need to engage in "counter-conduct," which are . . .
efforts to step outside of the dominant framework in which the conducting of conduct takes place; to find, as it were, alternative arenas of life in which different governing styles operate. These—the family, the church, synagogue or mosque, and the local community—are places where one does not merely rebel against the mainstream, or, for that matter, embrace abstract freedom from any and all social ties whatsoever. They are places where one discovers a web of relationships of authority, obedience, and mutual support deriving their strength from love, friendship, and trust rather than (as is the case with the state) from power alone.
For reasons I'll flush out, I think such counter-conduct is a right-hemisphere activity: a rejection of the aura of power/control that envelopes society and an embrace of the freedom necessary to appreciate the mystery of existence . . . and its ultimate unknowability (the Tao).
And so, yes, I will be delving into the work of a person who (some think) knowingly killed himself through sodomy in San Francisco bathhouses during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. The guy was a freak, but it seems he was fearless in his pursuit of truth, even if it started taking him in a decidedly un-leftist direction.
Based on my initial readings, I think Foucault would've converted to Catholicism if he had lived long enough. Of course, "long enough" in his case probably means age 230, but still: I think he would've ended up there eventually.
March 28, 2023
Note: Slow blogging winds ahead. TDE won't shut down, but it will slow down as we roll into the high holy season.
[T]he gospel writer almost certainly had knowledge of men like Herodotus, Thucydides, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, and Polybius. The style is too similar for the author not to have known these writers. Peters’s scholarly assessment of Lukan composition also shows him every bit the historian as Josephus was; it is time, then, for Luke to take his place among these titans of ancient history.
March 27, 2023
Two from Sal the Agorist
March 26, 2023
Retreat leader and all-around good guy Michael Rodney logs in with the second part of his two-part series on prayer.
If you haven't checked out the new "Briefly" section, you can find it here.
The main purpose of posts in this section is to provide hard links to the blurbs buried in The Scrolling Blog. The Scrolling Blog is a courtesy to readers who want to "get in and get out" quickly when they visit TDE. The problem is, if they see commentary they want to share, it's impractical: they'd have to send a link to the entire Scrolling Blog and then say something like,
Check out these comments about Thomas Sowell. Here's the link. You have to scroll down about 549 lines, right after a funny embedded Tweet about a shaman, then look for a reference to "Marxism."
No one wants to do that. You can now click the title (if the title is hyperlinked) and send it.
March 25, 2023
The COVID debacle doesn't rankle enough: not enough people seem ashamed or apologetic; not enough people seem to appreciate the enormity of what our politicians did. I, no exaggeration, find it greatly disturbing for an obvious reason: they'll do it again and too many of us will be totally fine with it.
We need a lot of mea culpa, with real actions to show they're sorry, like stepping down from office. But no. They're staying . . . and getting re-elected. Like I said, it's frustrating and scary.
The government’s authoritarian COVID policies are just the most visible proof that it’s a terrible idea to turn anything of importance over to government control.
The refusal of a large swath of our country's electorate to apologize and acknowledge the government's terrible behavior during COVID means we aren't anywhere close to understanding this . . . and, indeed, believe just the opposite, which means it will happen again and again and again.
I am a bit hopeful, however, that every young adult who was in high school or college during this debacle is now fully aware of the problem. I would hope their attitude is, "These flaming totalitarian idiots took away two of the best years of my life in their attempt to get rid of Trump, transfer wealth to Amazon and their digital allies, placate the pharmaceutical companies, and, possibly, to see just how much they can get away with because much of our populace can't think for itself anymore. That ain't gonna be me." We'll see. Hope springs eternal, I suppose.
March 24, 2023
Brews You Can Use
March 23, 2023
Are NYC, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Philadelphia just going through a bad phase and will eventually rebound? Probably, but that doesn't mean they're not in a secular bear cycle (picture a stock market graph, jaggedly going down, with bumps up but overall, down).
According to Joel Kotkin, the major urban centers need to reinvent themselves fast. New suburbs, the kind that has its own downtowns and culture, are sprouting up. New cities are becoming major players: Nashville, Austin, Columbus, Charlotte. Small towns are seeing immigration and population growth for the first time in . . . I don't know. 75 years?
Detroit might be in the Nashville and Co. category. Its politics are Democrat, but not of the leftist gnostic sort. Detroit has seen everything hell offers and is tired of it. I hear its police chief doesn't screw around with crime and has the full support of the community. You didn't hear about BLM riots in Detroit for a reason. It's ready to roar back to the days when it was considered one of the world's great cities (c. 1950).
I'm no expert on Detroit, but I used to live there, visit frequently, and have a lot of family there. I base the above on what I see when I visit and what I hear from friends and family, plus the occasional news piece (or lack of news pieces, in the case of BLM riots).
IMHO, Detroit will never re-achieve its greatness, back when it was the fourth or fifth biggest city in America and the entire world begged it for automobile technology. The decay is simply too deep. Maybe it's possible to raze bad neighborhoods and build again, but it has far too many derelict residents that (i) are now protected by ill-advised court rulings and (ii) breed.
You can have a nice house with great shopping nearby, but it doesn't much matter when you wake up to greet the day and see someone taking his morning crap in your front yard.
I've long eschewed animated films, but I might watch this one:
March 22, 2023
The Unsound and Little Fury, Second Installment
And lest you think the idiot's above attack on Catholic high schools is too harsh, read this story about one of those fine privileged kids from a Catholic lite school:
March 21, 2023
How to Define "Wokeness"
[I]magine Russell Crowe’s performance in A Beautiful Mind, but suppose that instead of seeing hidden messages, Soviet plots, and fellow spies everywhere, he saw racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. everywhere and divided the world into the “bigots” who aimed to uphold this system of “intersectional” “oppression,” and the “allies” working together with him to subvert it.The delusion seems frighteningly real, but in fact is held in place by circular reasoning and ad hominem attacks on anyone who tries to convince him otherwise. Link
March 20, 2023
Happy Start of Spring
It starts at 5;24 this afternoon. I never knew the Spring Equinox could fall as early as March 19th, but it occasionally happens (like it will in 2024, if the UFOs don't land and kill us all before then).
It's not in the "Existence Strikes Back" category, but I walk all the time, so anytime I can congratulate myself, I do so (smile). ESB returns next Monday.
March 19, 2023
Why Read the Classics?
I'm not sure what this guy thinks, but he throws out different rationals. I think it boils down to one thing: The classics help us flourish, individually and as a culture. How they help us flourish and what does "flourish" mean? Those are different questions, but it should be enough simply to know that they help us flourish.
Catholic missionary and retreat leader Michael Rodney weighs in with the first of a two-part series on prayer. It's a little more serious than we normally run, but it's Lent, and it's Sunday, and TDE is Catholic, no matter how latent.
March 18, 2023
The Marauder State
The State is a robber organization: it takes things by force and against the individual's will. The only question is, does that make it bad (i.e., is the alternative worse)?
Related: Frank Chodorov, The Rise and Fall of Society (perhaps my favorite libertarian book). It's short and just $2.99 on Kindle.
March 17, 2023
Happy St. Patrick's Day
March 16, 2023
I'd re-title David Brooks' recent op-ed about progressive sadness, "The Gnostification of America."
He touches on four of Voegelin's six gnostic traits (and the other two are also present, but op-eds need to be short), starting with discontent. He points out that liberals today are extremely sensitive, always taking offense at things (the Gnostic never thinks to question whether he's the problem, not outside things), which has resulted in a tribe-like fury against anyone who doesn't agree with them completely (evincing a faith-like attitude). They view America's problems as "endemic" (the gnostic hates the structure).
Brooks is optimistic that the woke religion is dying out, things are calming down, and young people are being taught to take control of their own lives and not look to outside aids for happiness.
He might be right. I hope he is.
If people are happy, the cornerstone of gnosticism crumbles.
March 15, 2023
The Unsound and Little Fury. It's a parody of stream-of-consciousness literature, which is probably most popularly known through Joyce's Ulysses or Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury.
This feature is probably best identified with the line from Macbeth on which Faulkner's famous work was taken:
"A tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/ Signifying nothing"
If you enjoy absurd humor, you'll like this feature. Everyone else, please disregard.
March 14, 2023
Four suppliers (Corteva, ChemChina, Bayer, and BASF) account for 60% of the agricultural seed industry. According to The Kiplinger Letter, the White House is looking into an antitrust action.
The problem with Big Seed (from 2021):
Michael Rodney returns with a piece of satire.
Ha, I Only Spent a Few Thousand Dollars to Discover You Can't Make Money Off Lettuce
Climate change might make growing produce indoors a necessity. But despite taking in more than a billion dollars in venture capital investment, most companies in the industry seem to be withering, unable to turn a profit on lettuce.
March 13, 2023
A "lack of decorums" also marked the spiritual gnostic movements. Once a person posits that everything around him is the product of an evil structure, everything around him can be scorned, abused, and torn apart.
A Leftist Feminist, but an Honest One
I increasingly cherish the non-gnostic leftists, even those who I would've sworn were gnostic leftists, like Naomi Wolf.
March 12, 2023
The left hemisphere is the hemisphere of abstraction and theory. Iain McGilchrist, The Matter with Things, p. 30.
The right hemisphere is the hemisphere of experience: fresh, unique, embodied . . . being present with things as they are. Id.
The Brownstone Institute was built on the rubble of COVID policy. It's cranking out some great stuff, which includes the cognitive humility that ought to inform every public policy decision. This piece by Jeffrey Tucker, which excoriates the experts who sit back with their theories and direct public policy that the working man must comply with, even though theory conflicts with reality, is a good sample of its work.
Tucker's piece is strongly "hemispheric." The theorists are left-hemisphere mavens. They abstract ideas and formulate theories without regard to the huge body of evidence that no human being can grasp, all the while ignorant that they are invincibly ignorant. And they're so cocksure, they're insufferable and "totalitarianish" in their positions.
That's also a left-hemisphere thing:
The left hemisphere often doesn’t know that it doesn’t know. There are plenty of medical cases (say, in stroke victims with an impaired right hemisphere) in which the left hemisphere not only clearly doesn’t know what it’s talking about but behaves as though it knows perfectly well. “[T]he left hemisphere is more self-directed, enclosed, self-validating—in thrall to its theory.” Matter, 44 The left hemisphere is reluctant to admit its ignorance. Master, 215
Interesting piece about Rod Dreher's looming departure from The American Conservative. I've always liked Dreher. Heck, I've long been envious of him, though I thought he became a bit unhinged when he left the Catholic Church over the sexual abuse scandals (though, to be honest, if I had seen it up close like he had, I probably would've become a bit murderous).
It's Vanity Fair, so take it with a lot of sodium. You can tell by their lurid details that they're really getting a kick out of the situation.
March 11, 2023
I self-identify as a libertarian, which means I can play on libertarian sports teams even though I was born a conservative, but it bothers me that there's something eerily "religious" in many libertarians' fervor and uncompromising positions.
I'm firmly convinced it's a situation of the left hemisphere going bonkers in such people, but it's probably not gnostic. A religion, yes, but not a gnostic religion. It's some other kind of religion (in Ayn Rand's case, it's Satanism . . . I say that only half-jokingly, given that the LeVey's Satanic Bible was, in LeVey's words, "just Ayn Rand’s philosophy with ceremony and ritual added").
Mother Teresa’s Humility List
They're all simple . . . but hard
1. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
3. Avoid curiosity.
4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
5. Accept small irritations with good humor.
6. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
7. Accept censures even if unmerited.
8. Give in to the will of others.
9. Accept insults and injuries.
10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
March 10, 2023
The Weekend is Upon Us
I hope you enjoy the round-up of drinking news and the new BYCU format.
March 9, 2023
I had to interrupt normal TDE programming for this important development:
Free speech is the most important issue today, and I don't say that because I loathe Democrats (I don't much care for Republicans, either).
I say it because truth is fluid. It's not relative (put your genitals back in your pants, perverts), but it is fluid. It's partly what identifies the Tao: elusive, but always there: permanent and ephemeral. Free speech is crucial to explore it.
Free speech is also crucial for a ton of other things, including the basic need every human has to communicate with others. If the communication is hindered, a basic human need is hindered.
I believe the move against free speech is the most ghastly unanticipated thing I've seen in my life. We saw abortion coming, at least Paul VI did, but I don't think anyone saw this coming.
I also believe the move against free speech is the ultimate move by the gnostics/left hemisphere/powerful elite to shut the door on the Tao/right hemisphere/non-elite. It's a theme I will continue to explore at TDE throughout 2023 and into 2024.
March 8, 2023
How dark are these times? Have pagan forces (i.e., Satanic forces) been unleashed into western culture? Heck, I don't know, but it really sucks that it's even a theory worth considering.
And in this regard, it's worth remembering that the number one response demanded by the pagan gods is fear. A woman many years ago converted from her polytheistic folk religion. She said it was liberating. Prior to accepting Christ, she spent her days in constant fear that she may have angered one of the gods.
Paganism is fear, just as Christianity is prayer. Which does our culture have more of?
I could go on and on. Once you see the occult, Satanic, pre-Christian, dark or “daimonistic” themes re-establishing themselves in Western society, you cannot unsee them.
The elite don’t waste time and money creating images, rituals, or themes that have no purpose. I can’t forget that Secret Societies at Yale (and I was a member of a senior society that had a secret element), draw on pre-Christian, indeed pagan, Mithra-cult, ritualistic themes as part of their initiation ceremonies.
Is this all just artistic expression, or edgy window-dressing? Or are we just bored?
All of Western Europe was once consecrated to Jesus, Mary and Saints – or to the Church; almost every chapel, town, village, crossroad; Santander, Mont St Michel, Greyfriars. Much of America too: Santa Barbara, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Catalina. Did that consecration do more than establish place-names?
Did it help keep us safe?
Are we now seeing the costly and intentional process of global elites reconsecrating our America, our West — to negative entities that are — in spite of all the dominant narrative since the 20th century began, arguing the contrary — in fact — real?
As poet Charles Baudelaire pointed out, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” The only thing that feels intuitive to me is that these pagan forces may indeed once again have gained a foothold again on our planet.
What feels intuitive to me is that God is at the limit of His patience with us.
March 7, 2023
The Importance of Leisure
I've tried to make sense of leisure, in the context of The Reality Spectrum. I suspect it also plays heavily into The Hemisphere Hypothesis. This is one of my lighter essays on the subject:
March 6, 2023
Today's column came in right under the deadline. I was in Chicago this weekend, enjoying a musical, strolls through Mayor Lightfoot's Chicago before it ends, and dining out, so the really fun stuff (i.e., "Existence Strikes Back") took a backseat.
This piece, incidentally, is the end of my analysis of Eric Voegelin's six gnostic traits. Future ESB essays will continue the gnostic analysis before moving into Part Three of the Existence Strikes Back project: How Existence (more specifically, "the act of existence"; more poetically, "the Tao") is striking back against modernity's attack on The Reality Spectrum and the Tao's rightful place of first precedent on the Spectrum.
Part Three was supposed to be the climax and end of the ESB project, but the advent of Iain McGilchrist has thrown a monkey wrench into my original blueprint. I'm now in the process of starting Part Four of ESB, which will be focused on The Hemisphere Hypothesis and . . . . well, I can't say more just yet. I'm still working it through.
March 5, 2023
Louis Markos is one of the most engaging lecturers I've ever listened to. If you get a chance to pick up his lectures at The Great Courses or otherwise, I highly recommend him. He's also responsive to emails. He has given me invaluable guidance in forays into post-modernism.
And his recent piece at The Imaginative Conservative is very good.
March 4, 2023
TDE Welcomes a Humorist
Michael Rodney has joined the roster at TDE. I hope to add more writers as the year goes on. Watch for more tweaks to TDE in the coming weeks.
March 3, 2023
"Brews You Can Use"
Jason Holleman, a lawyer representing Mrs Long, says whiskey companies often speak about the evaporation process - dubbed "the angels' share" - without mentioning the resulting mould that comes with it.
"If you go on one of these distillery tours they will tell you about the angels' share that goes into the atmosphere," he says.
"And unfortunately that also results in the devil's fungus."
Years ago, I was home by myself and jaunted to my favorite spot for a quick beer. It was Saturday night and the place was normally deserted, but four of my drinking acquaintances were there, huddled at the bar, drinking their stouts and other heavy beers. I just wanted a Miller Lite but didn't want to hear the chortles, so I told the bartender, "I don't really feel like drinking tonight. Just gimme a Miller Lite." My acquaintances were fine with my choice.
March 2, 2023
Applying the Hemisphere Hypothesis
I read The Master and Emissary thoroughly, then spent hours going back through my underlinings to assemble my e-book (coming soon!). I've made good progress on The Matter with Things and figure it'll take me years to get through it carefully . . . and I'm fine with that.
If you subscribe to "Outside the Modern Limits," you've seen a handful of applications of the Hemisphere Hypothesis to everyday life and entertainment.
I've now forayed into applying the HH to the most mundane thing I can think of: gardening. I started "The Gardening Hemisphere" publication at Medium.com and published this short explanation (musing) about how gardening establishes the proper relationship between the hemispheres. It requires both hemispheres, with the right hemisphere deploying the left and the left obediently taking instructions from the right. And because it's such a "mundane/petty" pursuit, the left hemisphere isn't inclined to revolt and take over the mental equilibrium promoted by gardening in the first place.
Those are my thoughts on the subject, anyway.
True confession: As I wrote this essay, I occasionally envisioned Dr. McGilchrist rubbing his eyebrows and thinking, "What the heck have I done?" That being said, I think I have it right . . . or real close.
March 1, 2023
The Twitter Files
Riddle: What's the biggest story since JFK's assassination and has received zero mainstream press coverage?
Answer: The Twitter files.
Everything about it is shocking: the flagrant violations of the First Amendment by government actors, the unashamed viewpoint discrimination, the idea that only one narrative can be accepted in a pluralistic country, and then the New York Times, Washington Post, and the rest of their friends completely ignoring it all.
I admit that I found the required mode of revelation (series of Twitter threads) difficult to read, so I often just glanced through them, but John Davidson has provided a great summary at Imprimis. If anyone doesn't think our federal government is out of hand, they need to read this and listen to the Matt Taibbi podcast with Joe Rogan last week.