The poet W as comedian

Wallace Stevens is a poet of comedy, and comedy relieves the distress of tragic history. Comedy reconciles the restless, Romantic imagination with the present and the real. When the world falls apart, one must cultivate one's garden, but also tell some comic stories over dinner. It is comedy, not alone but inseparable, that moves the infinite conversation on.

Ezra Pound, the unavowable fury of thy true heritage in fragments

The story of Ezra Pound's mind cannot be told in plain and simple affirmations. Three twisted trees grow from this mind in all accounts: poetry, unavowable politics, and madness. They stand tangled and tragic in a strange, haunted copse that very few today will see as an holy trinity. The iconoclasts of today's fanatical cancel … Continue reading Ezra Pound, the unavowable fury of thy true heritage in fragments

On living not by lies

2020 has taught us through bitter experience that our societies are not vaccinated against totalitarianism, and certainly not the mutant strain of "soft totalitarianism" described in Rod Dreher's Live Not by Lies: a Manual for Christian Dissidents (2020). The last year has seen lockdowns, curfews and bans on the most fundamental human relationships (attendance at … Continue reading On living not by lies

The condescension of posterity

Frank Furedi has proposed an intriguing idea that the spectre haunting radical identity politics, the Rainbow Guards of our raging Cultural Revolution, is a difficulty with borders. The boundaries between nations, genders, the public/private, and key characteritics of populations are being torn down, and being replaced by a convenient chaos of fluidity and the new … Continue reading The condescension of posterity

Emmanuel Todd’s Lineages of Modernity

"Never have human groups of such a size been so rich, so old, so educated, so devoid of collective beliefs."Emmanuel Todd, Lineages of Modernity, p 21 I picked up from the local library Emmanuel Todd's Lineages of Modernity: a history of humanity from the Stone Age to Homo Americanus. It is a sweeping reconception of … Continue reading Emmanuel Todd’s Lineages of Modernity

What I am reading… Gerard Manley Hopkins

Here, listen to the uncanny insight... 75 The times are nightfall, look, their light grows less; The times are winter, watch, a world undone: They waste, they wither worse; they as they run Or bring more or more blazon man's distress. And I not help. Nor word now of success: All is from wreck, here, … Continue reading What I am reading… Gerard Manley Hopkins

What I am reading … the Opium war and chai

I am reading Stephen Platt, Imperial Twilight: the Opium War and the end of China's last golden age (Knopf 2018), in which he describes the initial attempt by British traders and soldiers to establish a trading post at Canton via a partly successful military adventure in 1637. The tactical success amounted to little initially since … Continue reading What I am reading … the Opium war and chai

What I am reading… Weber’s iron cage and prophecy of cultural demise

Two passages from Max Weber's The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism: "The Puritan wanted to work in a calling; we are forced to do so. For when asceticism was carried out of monastic cells into everyday life, and began to dominate worldly morality, it did its part in building the tremendous cosmos of … Continue reading What I am reading… Weber’s iron cage and prophecy of cultural demise