The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary


Wednesday’s Child:  This Way Up (3)

The self-indulgent rooster, crowing solely for his own biological pleasure, is seen by some as nature’s alarm clock and an enduring symbol of the countryside.  Others prefer it as coq-au-vin. Some would say that the critical reaction to Second Nature was no more than I deserved.  I had already made a nuisance of myself, what with those convoluted explanations of feeling and coquettish invocations of the Russian soul, so by wringing my neck the reviewers were merely performing a socially useful task.  My point is that whatever critical opprobrium I may deserve for all that self-indulgence, the genuinely interested reader...


Foreign Affairs, Episode 3


In this episode of Foreign Affairs, Drs. Fleming and Trifkovic take a look at the recent Italian referendum, the situation in Serbia, the recent defeat of Norbert Hofer in Austria, and the current state of Turkey under Erdogan. If you want to know what the real score is in these situations, you owe it to yourself to take a listen. Original Air Date: December 6, 2016 Show Run Time: 54 minutes Show Guest(s): Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, Dr. Thomas Fleming Show Host(s): Stephen Heiner   The Fleming Foundation Presents Foreign Affairs℗ is a Production of the Fleming Foundation. Copyright 2016. All...


California Nightmare

Meet Derick Almena, model Californian and prototype for the next generation of Americans.  Derick—in his world we dispense with formalities—is “manager” of a warehouse in Oakland California, where he sublets space to various artistes.  At this for-profit arts collective, which he named the Ghost Ship, Derick and his rentors throw parties.  At a dance party last Friday night, a fire started and raced through the rabbit warren, killing at least 36 people.  Derick’s first reaction, posted on Facebook, expressed no sorrow for the victims—much less remorse: “”Everything I worked so hard for is gone.  Blessed that my children and Micah...


Marco Bassani on The Italian Crisis

A Conversation  with Prof. Marco Bassani of the University of Milan. TJF:  Prof. Bassani, over the weekend Italian voters decisively rejected a set of “reforms” proposed by PM Renzi.  It is hard for Americans to understand the significance of the vote, particularly since very few of us follow Italian politics.  To begin with, could you please describe Renzi’s proposals.  MB:  Quite frankly I believe that even most Italians had only a vague idea of the proposed constitutional reforms. They voted from their political guts and clearly rejected  Matteo Renzi’s Constitution.  The package was a very complex transformation that revolved around the change...


The Best Revenge, Episode 6: Roasting a Chicken


Thomas Fleming and Chef Garret discuss different techniques of roasting a chicken. It is the simplest of dishes and, if properly done, one of the finest either for a simple everyday meal or as the centerpiece of a holiday dinner. Original Air Date: December 3, 2016 Show Run Time: 51 minutes Show Guest(s): Chef Garret Fleming Show Host(s): Dr. Thomas Fleming   The Best Revenge℗ is a Production of the Fleming Foundation. Copyright 2016. All rights are reserved and any duplication without explicit written permission is forbidden.


A Life in Shreds and Patches, I: In Search of a Vocation, Part C

Friend Harry had not always known he wanted to teach classics, but he had enjoyed his Latin courses at Yale, and it seemed a reasonable decision.  He was not a strong-willed person in any obvious sense of being stubborn or overbearing, but when he made up his mind, in his own quiet way, he stuck things out.  He was,  as the saying used to go, steady as the tortoise who won the race, and it was no surprise when it went on, unobtrusively of course, to a solid career.  I never aspired to steadiness and always found it unfair that...


A Life in Shreds and Patches, I: In Search of a Vocation, Part B

Even my birthdate used to be a source of confusion, especially when it came time to celebrate my birthday.  My mother always claimed April 26, while my father held out for the 27th.  Mothers being mothers, my party was celebrated on the 26th until I was perhaps 15, when they got hold of a birth certificate that said in black and white: April 27.  Both of them immediately declared, “You see, I was right!” What was the name of your first pet? is another favorite question to inflict on failing memories.  I vaguely remember a cat, when I was very...


Jerks 2: Taxonomy, Part B

Let’s begin with the basics.  Rather than breaking down Jerks into categories of severity—rating them from one to ten—we can agree to divide them broadly into what I am calling Boors and Louts.  The boor is someone who does not know how to behave.  He constantly makes a fool of himself by using the wrong fork or insisting upon steak in a seafood restaurant.  He will pay embarrassing compliments to women he has just met and make himself the life of every party by telling anecdotes about his not very interesting life—anecdotes in which he inevitably plays the hero.  Most...


Properties of Blood I.10: The Demands of Blood, Conclusion

Friendships come in different forms, for different motives, and with different levels of intensity.  Comrades in arms or in work may drift apart as soon as the war is over or the job finished.  Ritualized friendships, remade on the model of kinship, are more stable and anticipate the brotherhood of all faithful believers preached by the apostles. “Nothing gold can stay,” as Homer’s Glaucus understood all too well, and over the generations the bonds of kinship become fragile, evanescent.  The same process takes place in social evolution as law and contract replace the ties of blood and tradition, a point...


Wednesday’s Child:  An Awl in Sackcloth

The pantheon of Stalin’s era contained, alongside the martyr Pavlik Morozov, killed by the peasants of his village for informing the secret police that his father had hidden his own grain, two other iconic images.  One of these was Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya.  Conveniently for Stalin’s propagandists seeking to plant her story in the consciousness of the common people, Zoya’s surname came from the twin Saints, Cosmas and Damian – as prominent in the Orthodox iconography as in the Catholic one – though, unlike them, this granddaughter of a Russian priest was a member of a partisan band, specializing in reconnaissance and...