Latest musings, analyses, and general madness

Independent Judgment In The Age of Mob Rule

A few days ago, Armond White at National Review published his retrospective assessment of Rob Reiner’s cult favorite comedy, The Princess Bride. His basic take on the movie, which as he notes with disapproval is often affectionately cited by conservatives (i.e., NR writers and readers), is that it lacks both artistic and moral coherence, and owes its enduring popularity to the fact that...

Two Reflections On Higher Education

The purpose of higher education, as originally founded in the solid ground of the classical philosophic life, was to foster the civilized notions that there is no real safety in numbers; that truth is not amenable to popular opinion; that the adage “knowledge is power” is not reversible; that detached, quiet reflection is the only antidote to the intellectual poison of the public...

Reflections On Current Events

If Ukraine loses its war of survival against a scheming KGB autocrat after all this devastation and bloodshed, the loss and its inevitable global implications will be entirely on the heads of those tens of millions of Americans who pretend to want to make America great again, which fake goal they propose to accomplish by electing the most corrupt and ignorant man ever...

Reflections: Crises of Faith, Smallness of Mind, Discomfort

Faith vs. Convenience.– A student recently wrote to me about the diary of a well-known Korean author, written for a Catholic magazine, describing her emotional journey following the death of her son. At the heart of the diary is the author’s struggle, quite typical of such stories, whether public or private, to find an answer to such questions as, “Why would God do...

Reflections On The New Tribalism

A Symptom.— Public shaming implies a character that is incapable of mercy, which implies a lack of empathy, which implies an inability to recognize one’s likeness in the other, which implies seeing the other as specially separate and thus essentially unfamiliar. The inability to recognize one’s likeness in the other, i.e., to see the subjectively unfamiliar as objectively familiar, indicates an uncivilized man....

The Establishment Wins, As Always

Recently, Senator Mike Lee endorsed Donald Trump for president yet again, proving, yet again, that his own political survival and prospects for personal gain take primacy in his heart over all concerns for constitutional government, republican principles, and whatever else he used to claim, sincerely or otherwise, to stand for. He saw what happened to Mitt Romney, Utah’s most celebrated political son, when...

The Republican Catastrophe Continues

The danger of the Republican Party’s fateful decision, back in 2016, to hold onto its traditional voter base by playing along with Donald Trump, was never primarily that he would promote or embark upon explicitly anti-republican policies (although he has certainly done that), or that he would convert the GOP into a populist apologist faction for tyranny on the global stage (although he...

V. R. for V. P.

Vivek Ramaswamy has dropped out of the Republican Party primaries in a manner that perfectly completes the first stage of his campaign to be Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate. He is the one primary candidate who at no point in the process had any intention of winning the primaries or setting himself up as a serious contender. His whole purpose all along,...

Reflections on Appearances

The French New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard once said of a famous American director (I quote from ancient memory), “He points the camera somewhere, I suppose, but he doesn’t see anything.” Today, four billion would-be cinéma vérité auteurs are pointing their own cameras “somewhere,” as we may suppose, but the assumption that all this pointing and shooting constitutes seeing, or revealing, anything —...

Learning and Stereotypes

Any two objects seen from a great enough distance will look fundamentally similar. The closer we get, the more differences we will begin to discern. The same is true with mental distance. The unfamiliar tends to group itself together in our minds, naturally. As we get to know individual instances within the group, they separate themselves from this new generality in our minds, and we see….