The worst is not, so long as we can say, “This is the worst.”
—King Lear, IV, ii
A wasp settled on a snake’s head and tormented it by continually stinging it. The snake, maddened with the pain and not knowing how else to be relieved of his tormentor, put its head under the wheel of a wagon, so that they both perished together.
[LOYAL READER: I realize that, as a rhetorical device, asking a multitude of questions can pose an annoying obstacle to pleasant reading. But the point of the following is (another question): Why are so few people asking them?]
- Name That Dictator
Scene: A TV game-show studio, some place, some time in the latter half of the 21st century…
Listen carefully, contestants. This is the final question for the Grand Prize of a two-week, all-expense-paid vacation this spring in Milan, Italy, when the city celebrates its grand re-opening to tourism. Ready?
Name the cruel, power-crazed despot who sentenced his entire population to house arrest; forced his citizens, including the frail and the elderly, to line up for hours in freezing temperatures to buy food; made it illegal for the owners of private businesses to operate without special permission, or their employees to go to work, upon pain of imprisonment, plunging the world into an economic depression and universal poverty from which it wouldn’t recover for generations; ordered his police to disperse protestors, arrest people for worshiping in synagogues and churches, and fine visitors to public parks; and encouraged citizens to denounce their non-compliant neighbours to the authorities, all the while broadcasting soothing public service announcements from overhead drones to the effect that the Government has the safety and well-being of its subjects in the uppermost chamber of its divinely charitable and loving Heart: Continue reading “Psychic Pandemic III: Dissident Questions from a Giant Prison”
It’s official. Medical authorities, global bureaucracies, and national governments around the world (including the otherwise sensible Trump administration) have “declared war” on the coronavirus. If you’re still wondering whether you should enlist, lend an ear to the March 13 summons of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres:
COVID-19 is our common enemy. We must declare war on this virus. That means countries have a responsibility to gear up, step up, and scale up…The United Nations – including the World Health Organization — is fully mobilized.
Would this be the WHO whose first African (and, not coincidentally, medically un-credentialed) Director General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, was a member of the TPLF, a revolutionary militia listed by the U.S. in the 1990s as a terrorist organization?; who as a high official in the Ethiopian communist government presided over the brutal repression and massacre of his own people?; who, having covered up a cholera epidemic in Ethiopia during his tenure as health minister, was then muscularly promoted by the Chinese as their candidate for the leadership of the WHO?; and who, once elevated to that position, promptly installed as the WHO’s Goodwill Ambassador (move over, Gandhi) Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s Prince of Peace?
Would this be the WHO that on January 14 repeated China’s claim that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the Wuhan virus, lavished servile praise on the CCP’s handling of and early success in containing the contagion, and in three separate statements, from January to early March, advised against (xenophobic) restrictions on travel from China?
Continue reading “Psychic Pandemic II: This Means War!”
There may be a silver lining to the coronavirus. Parliament has now been officially quarantined. Mass shootings are being put on hold (there are no masses, sacred or secular). South of the border, Chuck Schumer, reflexively enraged at whatever Trump does, says, or thinks, may be moved to remind himself that the virus can be passed to others in airborne droplets, and thus stop foaming at the mouth for a while. And more Americans may, belatedly, come to recognize the prudence of Trump’s admonitions about our addiction to cheap Chinese labour, and the vulnerability of the U.S. “supply chain” to the malevolent whims of another communist dictatorship.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that we are experiencing a full-blown psychic pandemic, in addition to the viral one. Does anyone remember a run on the grocery stores during the HIV, SARS, MERS, or H1N1 epidemics? As one wag on the radio observed, if you need to lay in that many rolls of Charmin, you ought to have scheduled a visit to your doctor long ago.
Continue reading “Psychic Pandemic: A Contrarian View of the Coronavirus Response”
The following is an abridged version of my lecture on Homer for a survey course on the literature and philosophy of the ancient Greeks, which I have taught for many years at University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. (It gets harder and harder to do so, of course, as feminist orthodoxy becomes more and more entrenched.)
Before we leave the Odyssey, some general observations are in order on the nature of the heroic ethos that its protagonist embodies—an ethos that was incarnated by any number of Greek and Roman mythic heroes, including Theseus, Hercules, and most important of all, the Roman Virgil’s Trojan hero Aeneas, who is made to follow in Odysseus’ footsteps, or rather wake, both literally and figuratively. All of these mythic heroes were interpreted in the allegorical commentaries written on Homer, Virgil, and Ovid throughout classical antiquity and down through the Christian centuries, as types, indeed, almost as personified abstractions, of virtue and wisdom, which invariably, in pre-modern literature and philosophy, meant reason in control of the carnal appetites and passions.
Continue reading “Homer’s Odyssey, the Heroic Ethos, and the Temptation of the Feminine”
Is it paranoia, or am I beginning to detect a pattern here? During his first campaign, former Prime Minister Harper fervently promised voters that, following the Liberals’ sudden progressive awakening, he would repeal the legislation that, after three thousand years of civilized consensus against it, had so recently normalized same-sex “marriage”. Within months of being elected, Harper declared that the question was “settled”. Campaigning for the leadership of the Ontario PC’s, Patrick Brown fervently promised to repeal Kathleen Wynne’s notorious sex-ed curriculum, and was carried to within reach of victory by the votes of the thousands of socially conservative immigrants (Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs) he had signed up in his riding, then pushed over the finish line when Monte McNaughton (for whom opposition to Wynne’s LGBT agenda was practically a single issue) threw his support to him. But once elected leader, Brown marched in every Pride Parade that would have him, and advertised himself as a progressive on all social issues. Federally, Andrew Scheer captured the leadership of the Conservatives in another run-off, when the only other two ostensibly social-conservative candidates (Pierre Lemieux and Brad Trost) transferred their votes to him. Since then Scheer has repeatedly reassured the liberal beau monde that he has no intention of re-opening such “settled” issues as abortion, gay marriage, or LGBT “rights”. Finally, following the political emasculation of the ithyphallic Patrick Brown, while campaigning to replace him as leader of the Ontario PC’s, Doug Ford fervently promised yet again to repeal the Wynne sex-ed curriculum, and was carried to victory when Tanya Granic Allen (for whom opposition to Wynne’s LGBT agenda was veritably a single issue—see McNaughton in re Brown, above) ceded her votes to him. Once elected Premier, Ford too suffered amnesia, and just last week gave his official imprimatur to the Wynne sex-ed curriculum sine emendatione, save for a few minor tweaks to render it even more progressive.
Further DNA mapping may reveal that Conservative politicians suffer from an over-firing gene for treachery. As I have observed elsewhere in these pages, their defining habit is to stab social-conservative voters in the very backs upon which they have ridden to victory. Continue reading “L-G-B-T, E-F-G; Now I Know My ABC’S (Still): The Wynne-Ford Sex-Ed Curriculum”
Events of late suggest that the pro-life movement is getting under progressives’ skins. I don’t mean—merely–that the merchants of unrestricted abortion have become more than normally deracinated from reason. That is true, of course; but the good news is that they now seem genuinely spooked (rather than in the usual, performance-art sort of way).
Continue reading “The Pro-Choice Crack-Up”
It’s Canada Day, which means that a week after demonstrating our pride in same-sex “marriage”, fisting, and surgical castration in the service of self-identified gender, we can now be proud of just being Canadian. Or can we? For the past fifty years or so, Canadian patriotism has been indistinguishable from a rankly condescending posture of superiority to AmeriKKKa. When animadverting on Americans as flag-waving jingoists, Canadians become positively jingoistic. I recently heard a national celebrity boasting about how “modest” we Canadians are, apparently unaware that this rather shopworn hymn of praise is self-refuting: i.e., lauding oneself for modesty is immodest.
Continue reading “Canada Day Pride”
The following is a slightly revised version of a lecture I have given on book I of Cicero’s Laws, for a course at University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies entitled “Cicero: On the Examined Life”. The perennial currency of Cicero’s ideas on Justice and Natural Law should be obvious to the readers of these pages…
The Laws, as I have said, was written by Cicero as a sequel to his Republic, in self-conscious imitation, that is, of Plato, whose own Laws Cicero believed to have the same relation to the master’s earlier work. The dialogue has as its interlocutors Cicero’s friend, advisor, and publisher Atticus, his brother Quintus, and Cicero himself, who is the main speaker.
The setting is Cicero’s estate at Arpinum, in a grove that contains the so-called “Marian oak”, which is the subject of the dialogue’s dramatic prelude. Atticus notices the oak and asks if it is the same one that Cicero had made famous in a now lost poem entitled Marius (a famous Roman general, statesman, and rival of the dictator Sulla). The point is then made by Quintus that no real tree can live as long as one planted, so to say, by a poet in the imagination of his readers. The whole discussion may seem at first to be a merely literary diversion, but of course, it is entirely germane to Cicero’s philosophical purpose and world-view.
Later, Cicero is encouraged by his interlocutors to write a history of Rome, a suggestion which he resists, and this reminds us of the broader question of the relation between the truths of history and poetry (or myth).
Continue reading “Cicero on Natural Law and the Cosmopolis”
Like a multitude of others, apparently, I was taken aback by the intensity of my reaction to the news of the fire at Notre Dame in Paris. Until it was ascertained that the great rose windows in the transepts and west front had been spared, Mrs. P and I were on what was rather like a death vigil for an old friend. The 13th century rose windows enclosed practically the only painted glass that the anti-religious fanatics of the French Revolution—the secular forerunners of the Taliban—were unable to reach. (Much of the rest of the current structure, including hundreds of stone sculptures and dozens of windows, is the product of a 19th century “restoration” by the erudite, but sometimes hyperactive, architect Viollet le Duc.) The besetting fear was that the lead came securing thousands of pieces of painted glass might melt, even from the radiant heat of distant flames, and the glass would return to its sandy elements on the nave floor a hundred feet below.
Continue reading “The Fire at Notre Dame: An Easter Reflection”
As has been widely reported, on February 19 the Greater Essex County District School Board voted to require all of its elementary schools to the fly the rainbow flag throughout gay Pride Week. No doubt the little blighters from kindergarten to grade 6 will be expected to salute the flag from the steps each time they enter and leave the school building, and from the playground whenever they take a break from bullying their gay and transgendered classmates at recess. Let’s hope that some brave young ideological non-conformist takes a knee, and see if the liberal media fetes him in the way they heroized Colin Kaepernick.
Continue reading “Big Gay Wants YOU!”