Dec 6 2018

8 Thoughts on the “New York Times’ ” Article about the Demise of “The Weekly Standard.”

8 Thoughts on the New York Times Article about the
Demise of The Weekly Standard.

London - Georgian Apartments

So Jim Rutenberg wrote this article in the New York Times. In that article you will not find out that:

1. I think most casual readers of The Weekly Standard [TWS] would agree it has been going downhill since, at least, Bush 43’s second term.

2. For a time TWS was a strong voice of neoconservatism–which itself emerged in the 1970s as a theory, but only matured into an applied political praxis during a post-Clinton presidency–and even then–only after September 10, 2001.

3. When Clinton lost to Trump, TWS lost a lot of its original enemies, hence its original purpose.

4. For most non-Jewish observers, Commentary is the nation’s premier conservative, political Jewish magazine–something TWS might’ve been at one point (that’s neither here nor there)–and it appears this country has room for only one commercially viable publication for such a niche market.

5. Sometime during the Obama administration, TWS put up a great paywall to keep out invaders. This was Chinese-esque in its ambitions: TWS’s RSS feed was minimized, while giant pop-ups to “subscribe now” began to bombard any would-be reader on any subject–carnival-barker style. Basically TWS’s online presence became as technically unreader-friendly as a MySpace page.

6. With regard to topics TWS covered and the writers it chose to publish, all of the above adds up to it being an insular institution that seemed less than interested in outsiders’ opinions, submissions (I never did), and subscriptions (ditto).

7. When was the last time TWS had an article at the top of Memeorandum?

8. None of Much to none of the above is mentioned or considered in the New York Times‘ article by Jim Rutenberg.

Conclusion: Even a casual reader of TWS would know it is much more plausible to use the trope that Trump’s election was a “final nail in the coffin” for TWS than to say the Donald is the reason for TWS’s demise, as the NYT’s headline implies. 



Nov 30 2018

Things I’ve been Reading the Past Decade to Prepare for a Trip to Germany (Part I)

porticos in Bologna, Italia

Things I’ve been Reading the Past Decade
to Prepare for Writing a Novel about a Trip to Germany (Part I)

Germany before Goethe and Schiller:

  • Julius Gaius Caesar, Commentaries on the Gallic War (58–50 BC)
  • Tacitus, Agricola and Germania (98 AD)
  • Jordanes, History of the Goths (551 AD)
  • Anonymous, The Book of Settlements (Landnámabók) (~800–900 AD)
  • Anonymous, The Poetic Edda (~1200 AD)
  • Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival (~1200)
  • Anonymous, The Song of the Nibelungen (Nibelungenlied) (~1300)
  • Johannes von Tepl, The Ploughman and Death (Der Ackermann und der Tod) (1401)
  • Sebastian Brant, The Ship of Fools (Das Narrenschiff) (1494)
  • Conrad Celtis, Poems (~1490–1500)
  • Erasmus, In Praise of Folly (1509)
  • Thomas Müntzer, Various Works (1520s)
  • Martin Luther, The Book of Vagabonds and Beggars (Liber Vagatorum)(1509)
    • –––––.To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation (An Den Christlichen Adel Deutscher Nation) (1520)
  • Sebastian Lotzer, The Twelve Articles of Peasantry (Das Zwölf Artikel Gehören Zu Den Forderungen) (1525)
  • Gottfried Leibniz, Shorter Works and Political Writings (1680–1715)
  • Immanuel Kant, Dreams of a Spirit-Seeker (Träume Eines Geistersehers) (1766)
    • –––––.Perpetual Peace (Zum Ewigen Frieden) (1795)
  • Honoré Gabriel Riqueti comte de Mirabeau, Memoirs of the Courts of Berlin and St. Petersburg (1787)
  • Georg Lichtenberg, Aphorisms (~1750s–1800)
  • The Brothers Grimm, Children’s Stories and Household Tales (Kinder- und Hausmärchen)(1812)

****

  • George Madison Priest, The Classical Period of German Literature (1941)
  • Ernst Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages (Europäische Literatur und Lateinisches Mittelalter) (1948)
  • J.Knight Bostock, A Handbook on Old High German Literature (1955)
  • Richard Marius, Luther (1974)


Oct 3 2018

To Read or Not to Read, that is the Question

To Read or Not to Read, that is the Question

From the always cheerful Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) on what one should read (and otherwise):

The art of not reading is a very important one. It consists in not taking an interest in whatever may be engaging the attention of the general public at any particular time. When some political or ecclesiastical pamphlet, or novel, or poem is making a great commotion, you should remember that he who writes for food always finds a large public. — A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short.

“On Books and Writing – no. 16” in Schopenhauer: Essays and Aphorisms, trans. R. J. Hollingdale, (New York: Penguin, 1970), p. 210.



And this is not something that was just practiced in the old days. There are people, good people like Gary here, who continue to practice today what Schopenhauer preached long ago (at least concerning this particular topic):


Sep 24 2018

Early Autumn Mushrooms

typewriter
Early Autumn Mushrooms

From Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882):

…. So also full of flowers, buds, leaves, & even tough grass & moss & mushrooms grown in a night all which I in my sauntering through unimportant country coldly botanizing for my pastime collected….

–Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks Vol. VI (1824-1836), p. 304.

And from Arnold Zweig (1887-1968)’s novel The Case of Sergeant Grischa (1927):

Adepts tell us that poisonous herbs should be gathered when the moon is up and on the increase: both gong and coming the gatherer must refrain from worldly speech, and if he meets with anyone on the road, he must devoutly murmur a Paternoster or an Ave Maria. He must also start upon his journey with the right foot, and return with his left foot foremost, being very careful not to change his step. And if he does all this, no evil spirits can meddle with his step.

–The Case of Sergeant Grischa (1927), trans. Eric Sutton, (New York: Viking, 1928) IV, v, p. 233.


Sep 19 2018

Population Stampede in Austin, Texas

typewriter

Population Stampede in Austin, Texas

Two pieces out this week on the increasing urban redevelopment of Capital City.

Report says gentrification threatens to displace Austin’s low-income residents, communities of color,” by Brandon Formby of the Texas Tribune, September 18, 2018:

“They’re young, they’re professional, they’re clearly here to work in tech,” [Fred McGhee, a historical archaeologist and community activist] said. “They’re here to make a real estate investment. They’re not interested in playing a role in the community.”

And “CodeNEXT or None, Austin has an Identity Crisis,” by Aubrey Byron of Strong Towns.org, September 17, 2018:

CodeNEXT opponent [Fred Lewis of Community Not Commodity], says he isn’t opposed to walkability, but he is skeptical that it’s what people actually want. “The idea that people are going to walk to the store is ludicrous. It’s 100 degrees here in the summer.”


Sep 6 2018

Christian Sexual Ethics Did Not Emerge Ex Nihilo

porticos in Bologna, Italia

Christian Sexual Ethics Did Not Emerge Ex Nihilo

Delving into material (i.e., ancient ethics) that I usually don’t, I have to object to Benjamin Wilker (and subsequently Rod Dreher) when they characterize: that, in the words of the first writer:

“Christianity [and Christianity alone!] made pedophilia a moral issue.”

But I believe European history is a little more complicated than the Church-centric readings of Dreher and Wiker.

Pagan emperor Marcus Aurelius (121–180 AD), a persecutor of Christians, felt it was right to suppress pederasty as much as he possibly could ( Meditations I, xvi).

His contemporary, Apuleius of Madura (124–170), a pagan rhetorician, philosopher, and novelist, mocks the Calamites who prey on young boys as well as Christians for their monotheism in his novel The Golden Ass Chapters VIII-IX).


Sep 4 2018

Four New Pieces that Think Seriously About Reading

Four New Pieces that Think Seriously About Reading


Aug 17 2018

10 Interesting Online Items I’ve Read Since October 2017

bookshelf
10 Interesting Online Items I’ve Read Since October 2017

Here are some links to some interesting things I’ve lately read.  I’ve been saving them for myself to eventually reread and probably get some writing ideas from. All sorts of topics and subjects:


Aug 2 2018

The Missionaries of Texas Politics

Western book stack

The Missionaries of Texas Politics

Might Beto or Cruz employ this old tried-and-true method? Via Robert Caro’s Means of Assent: Vol. II of the Life and Times of Lyndon Baines Johnson, (New York: Knopf, 1990) :

And it wasn’t only the shouts, but the whispers. One of the little-publicized factors of rural Texas politics was the men known variously as “missionaries” or “travelers’ or “walking delegates” or “active campaigners.” These were men influential with a particular ethnic group—for example, “You’d hire some popular Czech to go talk to the Czechs,” one veteran of Texas politics says—or simply an individual well known in some remote rural district. Such men were for hire in every campaign. “You’d send a guy out to see the lay of the land,” D. B. Hardeman explains. “He would walk around the streets, try to find out who was for who, go to the Courthouse. And they would talk around,” spreading the rumors that their employer wanted spread. The missionaries were an effective political weapon, particularly in rural areas where voters were unsophisticated, uneducated and accustomed to relying on word of mouth for information. The missionaries knew what to say. “From previous campaigns they knew what people wanted to hear, and who to talk to.” (pp. 276–77)

(A page from my monthly book log)


Apr 24 2018

How Tolstoy Tells Story

Piazza Navona, Roma, Italia

How Tolstoy Tells Story

According to Count Tolstoy:

He [Borís] could not tell them simply that everyone went at a trot and that he fell off his horse and sprained his arm and then ran as hard as he could from a Frenchman into the wood. Besides, to tell everything as it really happened, it would have been necessary to make an effort of will to tell only what happened. It is very difficult to tell the truth, and young people are rarely capable of it. The hearers expected a story of how beside himself and all aflame with excitement, he had flown like a storm at the square, cut his way in, slashed right and left, how his saber had tasted flesh and he had fallen exhausted, and so on. And so he told them all that.

Война́ и миръ, Voyná i mir (War and Peace), trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude, revised by George Gibian, (New York, W. W. Norton, 1966; second edition 1996) III, vi, 210.