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.
Continue reading “Sin, Fall, and Redemption in Milton’s Paradise Lost, Part I”
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.
Continue reading “Back to the Future”
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.
Continue reading “Pro-Choice Holocaust Denial”
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.
Continue reading “Questioning Authority, and other Liberal “Ideals””
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”
Empedocles’ On Nature…
His “Four Roots”…
Their Immutability and the Influence of Parmenides…
Love and Strife…
And Anaximander’s Vortex…
In his other great poem, On Nature, Empedocles begins his cosmogony where all of his predecessors, going back to Anaximander and Hesiod, also began:
Hear first the four roots of all things: shining Zeus, life-bearing Hera, Aidoneus, and Nestis, who with her tears waters the mortal spring.
Continue reading “The Vocabulary of Myth, Part XXXVII”
JESUS OFFENDS OPPRESSED GROUPS
Fails to include women, gays, or transgendered in the Beatitudes
REAGAN HOSPITALIZED FOR GUNSHOT WOUND
Sleeps through entire operation
HAITI’S ECONOMY BOOMING, UNEMPLOYMENT AT 1%
Social activists worry about growing inequality
EARTHQUAKE DEVASTATES MANHATTAN
Poor and minorities disproportionately affected
–Past and Future Headlines from the New York Times
In every opinion survey conducted over the past few decades, journalists have ranked somewhere between politicians and used car salesmen in terms of trustworthiness. And yet, as a profession, journalism continues to be respected. In this regard, journalists enjoy the same presumption of innocence as teachers. Why, I have always wondered, are teachers so uncritically admired? If the telos of the teaching profession is to confer an education upon the young, the briefest conversation with today’s graduates of Self-Esteem High—if they are capable of conversation, beyond non-verbal ejaculations of “like”, “you know”, and “awesome”– ought to dispel any illusion that its practitioners have succeeded in fulfilling it. But anyone who points this out invariably lights a fuse of defensive sanctimony about how hard educators work, how much they sacrifice, and how little they are paid. (Try to imagine your plumber demanding regular raises after every pipe he’s installed in your house has sprung a leak, and then, in self-exculpation, bleating about long hours and cramped working conditions.) Continue reading “The Journalist Mystique”
What follows was written in 2008, shortly after the publication of William Gairdner’s latest. For some reason which I can’t now recall, I failed to post it. But since Gairdner’s work is always relevant, and Priceton’s watchword is anachronism, here it is…
Oh, Oh Canada! A Voice from the Conservative Resistance (BPS Books), 195 pages;
The Book of Absolutes: A Critique of Relativism and a Defence of Universals (McGill-Queens University Press), 398 pages
(Both books are available at williamgairdner.com.)
William D. Gairdner, Ph. D., is usually described as a “best-selling Canadian conservative author”. The phrase is arresting: of the possible partial combinations of these four words, most are so improbable that the complete catena almost defies belief. It is rare enough to be a best-selling writer in Canada (especially of non-fiction); no less rare to be a Canadian writer of conservative opinion; rarest of all to be a Canadian writer of conservative opinion whose books consistently make the best-seller lists. Continue reading “William Gairdner’s Book of Absolutes”
The Triadic Circle of the Soul…
In the cosmogony of Empedocles, we encounter a conception of the world-process that is no less moral than that of Parmenides, while at the same incorporating much of the mystical monism of his Eleatic predecessor.
Empedocles, c. 490-430 B.C., was a citizen of Acragas, an important Greek colony in Sicily. A tradition going back to the fourth century B.C. has it that he was a disciple of Pythagoras–plausible enough, if only because of the geographical proximity of Acragas to the Pythagorean community in Croton in southern Italy—and that he was rebuked by his fellow adherents for having revealed the secret teachings of the master in his writings. The charge is substantiated by the many fragments that have come down to us; all the same, Empedocles was said to have been revered in his own right as a god, and to have inspired a cult following no less devoted than that of Pythagoras. Continue reading “The Vocabulary of Myth, Part XXXVI”