The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary


Ruth Bader Ginsberg

It is certainly true that we can see, in a man’s childhood and early youth, the seeds of what he was to become, but it is equally true that we can also perceive, in the final chapter of a human life, the culmination of of a life’s work, of things done and things left undone, of loves and hates, and of joys and sorrows.


The New Dark Age, Part One of Three

Our American barbarians are not, of course, anything like those sturdy tribal Germans who would, in a few centuries, discipline their own vigorous customs into something like a civilization. Our post-civilized men and women lack even the healthy instincts of the wild beast: They are more like the feral dogs who know only enough of human beings not to fear them.


Donald Trump Addresses the Nation, Conclusion

I promised in my first talk to take up the question of immigration, which I regard as the most important of all. For almost 50 years your elected leaders have refused to enforce the laws regulating immigration, even though every poll ever taken shows that a majority want this done. There are now millions of people who have entered and continue to enter our country illegally—something that no civilized country has ever permitted.


Will Joe Biden Even Make It?

This was an amazing statement by Kamala Harris: “A Harris administration, together with Joe Biden as the president of the United States – a Biden-Harris administration – will have access – provide access—to $100 billion in low-interest loans and investments for minority business owners.”


Wednesday’s Child: Of Clubs and Cudgels

In Les Visiteurs, one of my favorite movies of all time – I once showed it to Dr. Fleming, who said, after an astonished pause, that “this is the most reactionary film I’ve ever seen” – there is a moment when the hero, a medieval knight who has stumbled into the twentieth century, is being shown the Larousse encyclopedia entry on his illustrious family. “Who is this?” he asks about a descendant of his who lived in the eighteenth century. “Oh, he was a famous revolutionary.” And what does that mean, the knight persists. “He wanted to kill the king.”...


Poem: Pletho on Prayer

Pletho had concealed his growing attachment to what he thought was the old religion of the Greeks, though it was in fact NeoPlatonic Neopaganism, but some part of his explicitly pagan work The Laws came to the attention of his more Orthodox friends. However the last fragment of the Roman Empire had more on its hands in the 1450’s than a brilliant pagan


Dame Diana RIP

I see in the online news that the actress Diana Rigg, Dame Diana since 1994, died a couple of days ago at eighty-two. She became famous in America playing Emma Peel in 1965–67 in a British spy show called The Avengers.


Poem: Hateful is the dark-blue sky

I think I listened to this on an Audibe book the second night in the hospital. A real cheerer-upper, as Holden Caulfield would say Alfred. Lord Tennyson From “The Lotos-Eaters”) Hateful is the dark-blue sky, Vaulted o’er the dark-blue sea. Death is the end of life; ah, why Should life all labor be? Let us alone. Time driveth onward fast, And in a little while our lips are dumb. Let us alone. What is it that will last? And things are taken from us, and become Portions and parcels of the dreadful past. Let us alone. What pleasure can we...


Reports of My Demise

Most recipients of this message will know that I have been held in durance vile, for the past six days, as a prisoner of the International Medical-Industrial Complex. Yesterday after the lunch I did not eat, I returned home from Swedish-American Hospital. Please no jokes about “Da Swedish Surgeon.” Miracle of miracles I am walking—slowly and briefly— around the ground floor of the house, using only walker or cane. I even ate a breakfast of one half an English muffin, with yoghurt cheese, a glass of grapefruit juice, a small fruit cup, and my first cup of coffee since last...


Wednesday’s Child: Hell and a Purgatory

September must be allegory month, and fittingly one of the films now the talk of the Venice Film Festival is an offering from the Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky entitled “Dear Comrades.”  Its subject is the massacre of striking workers at Novocherkassk, a city near Rostov-on-Don, in 1962, and in fairness it ought to be said that a 2012 TV miniseries, entitled “Once Upon a Time in Rostov,” had done that subject ample justice, notwithstanding that it was made in the first year of what will enter history books as Putin’s Terror.  But Konchalovsky regards himself as an artist, and hence...