I have posted episode 8 of The Burning Archive Podcast - Cultural Decay and the meaning of the Burning Archive. You can listen to this podcast on Spotify, Apple and other platforms. In this episode I discuss cultural decay - the theme of cultural pessimists for centuries, and of this writer for a decade or more, including many posts on this … Continue reading The Burning Archive Podcast #8 – Cultural Decay and the meaning of the Burning Archive
One year ago I was about to fly to Bali, as it turned out in the last window of easy international travel before wide COVID travel restrictions. It was a wonderful, relaxing, luxurious and rejuvenating trip. Part of the regrowth came from the direct experience of the cultural traditions that India disseminated over South East … Continue reading The persistence of the Mahabharata
There are few funny stories to emerge from American politics over the last two months, especially during the constitutional embarrassment of the latest faux and cursed impeachment. There is, however, one story that stands out as laugh-out-loud funny, and symptomatic of the cultural decay, which has been a constant theme of this blog since its … Continue reading Sound and fury told by the American cultural “elite”
Today after the distressing events and death in the Capitol building of Washington DC that interrupted the process of confirming electoral college votes, I am reposting this piece from five months ago. It may be more relevant today than then. I would place my bets on fragmentation or collapse at this stage *** Original Post … Continue reading America’s fate: civil war, fragmentation or collapse?
“The former gods are growing old or dying, and others have not been born.... A day will come when our societies once again will know hours of creative effervescence during which new ideals will again spring forth and new formulas emerge to guide humanity for a time"Émile Durkheim Émile Durkheim (1858-1917), the French founder of … Continue reading Anomie Today and Cultural Decay
There is increasing talk of a looming civil war in America. There has even been a website - anewcivilwar.com - established to track the increasing speculation on civil war by both left and right. Two years ago the academic military strategist, Michael Vlahos speculated on the form and likelihood of a Third Civil War. Vlahos … Continue reading America’s fate: civil war, fragmentation or collapse?
Yuval Levin argues that the institutions of contemporary society, primarily America in his account, have become degraded. There is a good discussion with Yuval Levin on this topic over at the Hoover Institution Youtube channel. We have lost trust in these institutions, he argues, because simply they have become less trustworthy. Their performance has been … Continue reading The failure of institutions in the pandemic crisis
Michel Foucault's history of madness describes the decrees of 1656 that confined the insane, the unemployed, and the socially aberrant to the Hôpital général de Paris, the former home of the lepers and the plague-ridden. It was part of what he described as the Great Confinement. "It is common knowledge that the seventeenth century created … Continue reading The great seclusion
"A generation after the commissars left the scene, positive freedom is more difficult to attain, and the West is populated by people who are less and less capable of an agency free from the banalities of the marketplace, the media, and mass opinion. It is not clear that our institutions can survive without a free … Continue reading Degeneration
My trip to Bali - now over, since I am returned from the tropical paradise to the dry urban refuge of my home in Melbourne - reminded me not only of Clifford Geertz, but also of the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata. As we drove through Denpasar, we saw massive modern statues depicting scenes from … Continue reading The persistence of the Mahabharata
I am in Bali, staying for a short stay luxury escape at Padma Resort, Ubud, which is actually at a small village, Payangan, about 45 minutes drive north of Ubud. It is a marketing sleight of hand by the resort, but no matter. For the cost of minor distance from the well-known Ubud, connected by … Continue reading Notes on a Balinese cockfight
"It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages. Nonetheless certain parallels there are. … Continue reading Where is virtue in dark times?