Monthly Archive: July 2015

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Annals of Trebizond, Part II

The Annals of Trebizond, Part II Thomas Fleming The history of Trebizond is compounded in equal parts of Byzantine exotic history, American soap opera, and the political morality of the English television show, House of Cards.  (Parenthetically, I had a conversation with a TV-watcher so dumb he actually preferred the Kevin Bacon series to Sir Ian Richardson!) Much of the charm of Trapezuntine history lies precisely in how much, comparing great things with small, our own institutionalized culture of pettiness and betrayal. When “Emperor” Alexios I died at the age of 40, the throne passed not to his son but...

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Humanities—R.I.P.

Humanities — R.I.P. Frank Brownlow I have a lingering affection for the University of Western Ontario because I taught there many years ago, and enjoyed the experience. The students were good, and my colleagues were not only congenial but remarkably tolerant of my inexperience. They had an excellent curriculum and a well-trained faculty. Any Western student in those days who paid attention and did the required work emerged with a degree that meant something. Things, apparently, have changed. There is trouble at Western. The humanities there, as everywhere, are in a death-spiral, and someone called Dr. Ross Bullen, Teaching–Intensive Stream...

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Sophocles’ Antigone II

Sophocles’ Antigone II Sophocles was a known “conservative” in Athens, by which I mean that he generally supported leaders who advocated a balanced constitution and opposed the campaign to impose radical democracy.  He was born probably before 495, and died at the end of 405 or the beginning of 406. He was fortunate in his family, which was wealthy and respected.  Unlike Aeschylus he probably did not descend from the highest level of the ancient aristocracy.  He was noted for his good looks and affable disposition, a gentleman of the old school. It is not unlikely that, Sophocles like his...

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From Under the Rubble: The Wearin’ of the Cross

In simpler times when our world was young, we used to sing, “It’s a Barnum and Bailey world/Just as phony as it can be.”  Now we might just as well call it an Obama and Osama world:  It’s still  phony but a lot more dangerous than circus lions. A Palestinian Muslim named–what else?–Muhammad kills five military men.  The cry goes up:  Why did this happen?  What made him do it?  His family– described by people who know them as a “typical American family”–say this is not the son they knew but the victim of depression, and ABC News makes headlines with revelations about his use of drugs. Many...

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Greek Lessons for the American South by Robert Peters

This was sent in as a response to Marco Bassani, but it is too valuable to post simply as a comment. Greek Lessons for the American South By Robert Peters Mr. Bassani’s article brought me to contemplate my region of America – the South the economic and fiscal plight of which resembles in some ways, at least in the American context,  those of Greece and Southern Italy: many of our states and regions heavily depend on the welfare state, with money taken from other regions, to participate in “the American dream.”  We have large per capita social welfare, a robust...

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Autodidact: Sophocles’ Antigone

Autodidact: Sophocles’ Antigone I by Thomas Fleming Sophocles is among the most misunderstood writers of antiquity.  In liberal interpretations, he has been made into a kind of rational and liberal humanist.  In fact, he was a political and religious reactionary.  Religious and skeptical of sophistry, Sophocles was both a profound writer and an Athenian citizen who served his city in war and peace.  His works are a warning against intellectual and political arrogance, and if Pericles (whom he seems not to have liked) had listened, Athens would never have hurled itself into a campaign of imperialism and war that proved...

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America: Not a Christian Nation by Thomas Fleming

This piece slipped by the censors at The Spectator in August 2005 America Is Not a Christian Nation by Thomas Fleming President Bush’s remark the other day that the theory of ‘intelligent design’ should be taught alongside the theory of evolution brought howls of derision from his detractors in Europe and the United States. It was, they said, one more piece of evidence that America is populated by fundamentalist zombies who are potentially as dangerous as bin Laden’s boys. Intelligent design, it goes without saying, is a boneheaded piece of pseudo-science, almost as simplistic as the naive materialism that Darwinists...

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From Under the Rubble: South Carolina Secedes From History by Thomas Fleming

South Carolina Secedes From History by Thomas Fleming Now that South Carolina legislators have voted to take down the Confederate flag from the state capitol, what is the next move in the war against all things Southern, American, and Christian?  One might think that the Stars and Stripes are  the most likely target.  After all, as Minister Farrakhan has already argued, the US flag flew over the segregated South for a century, and and for almost a century it was the flag of a nation that permitted slavery. Nonetheless,  Old Inglorious has got many years ahead before the hate-fillled children...

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The Greek Crisis and the EU Leviathan, by Marco Bassani

The Greek Crisis in Context: An Interview with Marco Bassani Thomas Fleming:  Prof. Bassani, as an expert on regional and autonomous movements in Europe, how do you read the situation in Greece?   Marco Bassani:  The Greek farce is in its essentials so simple that anyone with the slightest political sophistication should be able to follow the story, even as it is presented in the news accounts. It is a well-known story of “political parasitism” that has its climax in Italy.  Greece is a Southern Italy in miniature, but without either Lombardy or Veneto to support it. The only reason...

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The Annals of Trebizond, I by Thomas Fleming

The Annals of Trebizond  By Thomas Fleming “Trebizond,” I exclaimed,  “Why the very word spells romance.” “That’s funny,” she replied.  “I always thought romance began with an ‘r’.” Preface Once upon a time, long long ago and far away on the coast of the Black Sea, flourished the might Empire of Trebizond.   This statement is true enough for the WikiBritannica entry, but it needs a few minor adjustments.  To be accurate, the 15th century, when Trebizond fell to the Turks, was not so long ago, at least when viewed in the context of the three thousand years our civilization has...