While Mrs. P was in the kitchen this Christmas baking her self-identified and non-binary-gendered gingerbread persons, I was wondering whether in a hundred years from now the Christmas story would have to be flagged by a trigger warning, or banned outright. Continue reading “Second Annual Priceton Christmas Trigger Warning”
It tells you something about the times that when you Google “Jesus Christ” the first suggestion that pops up in the drop-down menu is “Jesus Christ Superstar”. As a ubiquitous phenomenon of popular modern culture, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical has been one of the most effective forces for the infantilization of the Western mind of the past half-century, and it is entirely typical that, after “Joseph and his Technicolor Dream-Coat”, Webber’s second blockbuster hit amounted to a vocalized version of The Idiot’s Guide to Christology.
As a transcript of the ubiquitous and intractable reality of human evil, the Christian doctrine of original sin seems convincing enough. Some awareness of it might at least have spared us the sadistic horrors of the social experiments of twentieth-century totalitarians, as it ought to give pause to their “progressive” progeny in the twenty-first.
While Christianity has appreciated and assimilated a plethora of ancient pagan myths, it has never been so soft-headed as to have credited the modern fable of socio-political progress. Neither has ancient paganism, by the way, which (as its own myth of the four metallic ages suggests) was soberly resigned to the fact that, socially and morally, things are usually getting worse.
As book IX begins, with the Satanic serpent crouching in wait, Adam and Eve begin their fateful debate about the morning’s gardening—history’s first battle of the sexes. Looking at the conversation between them as a whole, however, one overwhelming fact emerges: from first to last, Eve takes and keeps the initiative. Her speeches are short, clear, and determined; Adam, on the other hand, is off guard and on the defensive. It is a state of affairs both entirely realistic and absolutely contrary to the ideal picture in book IV, in which Adam, fully conformed to his role as a symbol of the masculine Reason, possesses absolute sovereignty over a contently obedient and deferential Eve.
What follows is a lecture first delivered to a general audience at Deer Park Library in Toronto some years ago. I post it now on Priceton because Milton’s Paradise Lost is a case in point of the way in which contemporary ideological fashions (i.e., prejudices) have so fatally interfered with our reception and understanding of the great works of Western literature and thought, not to mention our ability to be morally edified by them.
Tired, yet, of liberal legalism? The last time in history the law was held in such superstitious reverence, the Pharisees were the party of enlightened opinion in ancient Israel.
At a recent dinner party, when I questioned the new progressive sacrament of same-sex “marriage”, a fellow guest replied, with admirable succinctness, “It’s the law; it’s in the Charter”; which meant, apparently, that the issue was now finally (and correctly) decided, and any criticism of that decision was beyond the pale. What has come of the liberal injunction to “question authority”? Continue reading ““It’s the Law!””
World Press Release: “A Revolutionary New Technology”
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press:
As you know, it’s been over a hundred years since the Tesla-Daimler Corporation invented the battery-powered electric vehicle (BPEV) in 1902. Since then, enormous progress has been made. For the first half-century, the cost of manufacturing and maintaining electric automobiles was so expensive that, even with the trillions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies, only the affluent could afford one. (When, by 1950, as yet only one percent of the population was wealthy enough to purchase a BPEV, the phrase “the one-percent” came into general usage as a term of class disparagement.) Gradually, as has often been the case with new technologies, the price of electric vehicles has declined, so that today, in 2017, fully one in two families proudly boasts a BPEV in their driveways. And no one can deny the benefits that this marvelous invention has conferred upon society over the years.
The following was first published in The Interim in the spring of 2009. It was written in response to a speech delivered by National Post columnist Barbara Kay to the Live for Life club at Western University, and reprinted in the Post on Feb. 4, 2009. The topic continues to be depressingly relevant today.
Chesterton wrote somewhere that “truth alone can be exaggerated; nothing else can stand the strain”. Certainly the liquidation of millions of unborn children is one of those stupendous human facts that can hardly be stated truthfully without sounding like an exaggeration.
According to the cliché, most of us are liberals at twenty, and conservatives by forty. By middle age, as the truism holds, we have been “mugged by reality”.
Leaving aside the fact that reality is a concept over whose meaning ontologists have argued for millennia, whoever happens to employ this infelicitous metaphor—I’ve heard it most often, in fact, on the avuncular lips of conservatives themselves–, “mugged by reality” is another expression of liberal condescension. It suggests that conservatives are exhausted liberals: liberals, that is, who have given up on their sweetly innocent, youthful ideals—the ideals of liberalism–, having grown weary of an arduous struggle for justice and truth against a recalcitrant—i.e, conservative–world.
The Pythagoreanism of Empedocles’ Cosmogony…
Justice and Injustice…
Logos and Eros…
Empedocles’ cycle of existence, as we have seen, is obviously enough an adaptation of that of Anaximander, the first and most important of the Pre-Socratic cosmogonists. His Sphere of Love, in which all of the elements are fused into one mass, is self-consciously evocative of Anaximander’s original to apeiron, the limitless thing. But what Anaximander regards as being subject to “injustice”, ”aggression”, or “war”—that mutual invasion of the elemental provinces which he sees as violating the bounds of Destiny (Moira), and invoking dread Nemesis to demand “reparations”–, Empedocles envisions as the effect of the highest cosmic principle of Love. At the opposite pole, what Anaximander conceivs as a Reign of Justice, where the four elements are differentiated from the mass and consigned peacefully to their provinces, Empedocles conceives as the reign of Strife. Continue reading “The Vocabulary of Myth, Part XXXVIII”