Category: Ideas and Reflections

Convenience vs. Life

A map must be read, which is to say it must be deciphered, thought through, examined and understood. Digital navigation is not a replacement for the map; it is a replacement for the map reader, i.e., for the mind’s processes of absorbing and contextualizing information. Calculation is a difficult skill which must be studied as a child, and then practiced regularly for years...

On Being Liked

The dependent man tends to judge himself more highly to the extent that he is liked by others, and therefore feels a compelling vested interest in gaining approval, which is to say that he increasingly uses others’ acceptance of him as an emotional surrogate for the self-understanding that he lacks. This tendency naturally drives him ever farther from any considerations of the good,...

We’re Not Going To Take It Anymore

Everyone is angry and outraged. Offended and shocked. An indignant crusader for justice. Above all, and most indicative of the mood of the age and the tenor of “public discourse,” everyone is absolutely, vehemently unwilling to brook disagreement. Today’s ideal teenager is a rabid-faced, frothing little girl overflowing with barely verbalized seething hatred toward all the grown-ups. Today’s ideal political representative is a...

The Crowd

My attitude toward the crowd is neither sympathy nor a craving to be understood, but rather retreat: to my privacy, to my separate space, to the few companions whom I can teach or from whom I can learn, to the rare authors (nearly all dead) who deepen my intellect, to my developmentally beneficial errors and failures, to my unanswered questions, and to the...

On Admiring the Rich

You may appreciate a man’s talent for making money, but you must never admire him for it. For this would mean regarding wealth, or the getting of wealth, as the gifted wealth-getter himself does, namely as a mark of personal greatness. On the contrary, one could do worse than to adopt the following as a general rule: No extraordinarily rich man — especially...

Two Thoughts on Death and Freedom

It is November 11th. So many thousands of men died in conflict in the last century, primarily in two cataclysmic world wars, in the name of keeping the free world free. The enemies of freedom would be long dead now regardless of the outcome of those wars, as, presumably, would be their self-devouring political dreams. Meanwhile…

So you want to be a writer?

Yesterday, as occasionally happens, a good student who has maintained a regular correspondence with me even after graduation, and who is an avid reader of modern and classic literature, sent me this simple message regarding her future prospects: “I think I want to be a writer.” The following is my reply. What does that mean, “I want to be a writer”? A writer...

Nostalgia as Politics

So much of the ruin of modern civilization, with its once-noble attempt to realize practical liberty, may be traced to the gradual calcification of democratic political institutions into freedom-stifling tunnels of partisan loyalty. This hardened devotion to a group or tribe eventually entails little or no demand that one’s party exhibit any of the characteristics or impulses that originally attracted one to it;...

Identifications

I live in a world they will never care to understand. They live in a world I wish I could not understand.

I have no memory of ever having felt lonely while alone — but many memories of feeling lonely in company.

I have always disliked myself most….

Reflections on Knowledge

Failed rhetoric.— “Everyone knows that” is merely a rhetorically aggressive way of saying “Everyone believes that” — for there is literally nothing that everyone knows. And nothing could be more certain than this: Anything that “everyone believes” is likely false, since most people are completely ignorant of all but the most quotidian facts. Hence, when a person insists on a point of argument...