Category: Ideas and Reflections

What We Are Today

Carlyle wrote, “No pressure, no diamonds.” That is very true. We might also add the unstated implication of Carlyle’s epigram: “No pressure, dull carbon — which is to say graphite.” As modernity reduces the heat and pressure of existence, humanity produces fewer and fewer diamonds, instead becoming increasingly uniform and stable in softness, adherence, and conductivity. A useful writing implement or fuel cell;...

From Beyond the Border

Tired of being right all the time, bored of having all his interpretations verified and all his predictions realized, seeking the challenge of subjects in which the answers are not so obvious to one who merely turns off the chatter and listens to his own reason for five minutes, erstwhile political commentator takes a break to look at things that actually matter, and...

On Our Modern Saints

Few things frustrate me more than attempts to leap over common sense and honest appraisal with the shorthand of collective beatification for certain classes or groups within society. For progressives, the sainthood-bound groups include teachers and “activists.” For conservatives, the saintly groups are “cops” and “our brave men in uniform.” Both sides, meanwhile, will always race to outdo each other in fawning gratitude...

The Small, The Great, and the Self-Esteem Myth

Last Sunday, I received an e-mail from a serious student who has been studying painting. She had taken a day trip to a nearby cape to enjoy the ocean view, and had come away with some difficult questions about the value of her artistic pursuits. In particular, she reflected that she would never be able to capture more than “a shadow” of the...

How I Feel Today

A few hours ago, I concluded an e-mail reply to a reader about COVID-19, experts, “flattening the curve,” and the abuse of statistics, with this exhausted summary: “I’m getting tired of this story, since there is nothing left to save here, no one left to persuade, and no benefit to be had from muttering common sense into the ether. Slaves want to be...

Why don’t you do as you are told?

Headline I just read on MSN: “Masks seem to work, even as some refuse them.” Darned humans, always refusing to do as they are told. Perhaps if we condescend and preach to them long enough, and publicly shame them forcefully enough, they will finally learn how to comply.
In other news:

Freedom and Uncertainty

Freedom is the natural political hope of the uncertain. Tyranny is the dream of the certain. The profound awareness of uncertainty compels humility before the past, respect for one’s contemporaries, doubt concerning authority (including one’s own), and skepticism toward all claims to ultimate knowledge. The profound illusion of certainty tempts a man into disdain for the past, condescension toward his contemporaries, lust for...

The Disturbing Effects of Surviving…

Hardly a day goes by now without three or four prominent human interest stories making the rounds, in which coronavirus “survivors” detail their ordeals, usually featuring before and after shots meant to alarm the universe with how terrible they looked while sick — which perhaps wouldn’t be so alarming if we were all in the habit of photographing ourselves while lying in bed...

Notice to Fellow Shock Sufferers

During all the years I have been writing regularly for public consumption, I have never received such a high proportion of reader response of the deeply personal, forlorn, almost despairing sort that I have been getting over the past two months. Even during the American Thinker years when I had tens of thousands of readers in a normal week; even after the U.S....

The Noise and The Silence

Today is full of the noise. Every moment, the mindless chatter of the most mindless of chattering creatures, the late-modern slave, cuts through every thought, interrupts every quiet intake of breath, disturbs the rhythm of every calm reflection.  I walk to the pond, a cup of coffee in my hand and a camera around my neck, hoping for a peaceful moment of escape...