Tagged: Modernity

Light Pollution and the Stars

As the city aggrandizes itself, it carelessly obliterates the night sky. On the clearest night these days, no more than a few stars are visible from my neighborhood. Artificial light spreads and engulfs all with its perpetual gaudy clarity, hiding the natural obscurity that once provided the divine backdrop highlighting the distant presence of the most ancient light, thus serving as man’s daily...

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;...

It’s the end, but…

We are watching something remarkable, namely a civilization committing suicide. Those of us who see clearly what is happening have traveled, in the course of just a few short weeks, through several stages of realization: from bemusement at people’s susceptibility to media manipulation, to frustration at their deference to excessive authority, to alarm at their willingness to sacrifice societal foundations in the name...

The Smell of Mortality

We are witnessing the end of modernity, in so far as that word names a civilization. The age founded in dreams of individual liberty has reached its absolute negation, with modern man, both collectively and in the private soul of almost every living human, having been reduced — or rather having reduced himself — to a slave demanding, even begging for, ever-stronger chains....

Observing Things

If there were no world, there would be only me — and therefore I would not exist. From this, it might also follow, contrary to the modern moan about man’s insignificance within the vastness of time and space, that my own existence is broadened, expanded, and deepened, precisely in proportion to the breadth, expanse, and depth of the world’s existence. The relevant question...

Critical Modernism

Recently, a student with whom I frequently discuss books and ideas mentioned in an e-mail — God forbid that two humans should meet in the same room these days — that she had just read Saint-ExupĂ©ry’s The Little Prince (a book that is extremely popular here in Korea), and was keen to discuss it with me. As I have been a sort of...

Great Moments in Conservatism

This American moment looks strikingly similar to the early days of the Trump cult. Much as we saw in early 2016, people who formerly seemed reasonable and reasonably “conservative” are being peeled away from their reason and into media-stoked lunacy over this virus outbreak, and suddenly turning on anyone who dares to espouse the principles in regard to this issue that they themselves...

Notes from the End of the World

I am taking a short break from my boatload of work, as I try to design inescapable e-classes on the fly, all the while knowing that this form of education is inherently second-rate. And how better to enjoy a few peaceful moments away from the grind than to reflect on the accelerating descent of civilization in the grip of the most suicidal mass...

Mind and Body

Who would not think, seeing us compose all things of mind and body, but that this mixture would be quite intelligible to us? Yet it is the very thing we least understand. Man is to himself the most wonderful object in nature; for he cannot conceive what the body is, still less what the mind is, and least of all how a body...

Becoming part of the silence

Early twentieth century Irish nationalist Robert Wilson Lynd wrote the following very worthy, somewhat Stoic, observation: In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence. One has to sit still like a mystic and wait. One soon learns that fussing, instead of achieving things, merely prevents things from happening. To be passive is in some circumstances the...