Monthly Archive: December 2015

1

Ransom Notes, 1

Kellen Buckles wrote to TFF Facebook page: A friend gave me a copy of Rebecca West’s “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon” and I was wondering if my time will be well spent negotiating those 1,150 pages.  Her prologue was full of intriguing ideas but I don’t want to be led astray.   TJF:  The simple answer is that it is a wonderful book, certainly the most insightful and entertaining volume on the Balkans that is available in English.  Nothing else comes close.  West does not know the language and makes historical mistakes, but her approach is humble and allows the various...

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Properties of Blood, I.2: Love and Hate Part E (Chapter Conclusion)

The Greeks were a quarrelsome people, and it would not have taken much to convince a philosopher that love is, in principle, better than strife.  In this philosopher’s lifetime, the Greek world was wracked by incessant warfare: Athens and Sparta against the Persians, Sicilian Greeks against the Carthaginians, Athens against Sparta and her allies.  In the closing years of Empedocles’ life, Athens made up its mind to invade Sicily–a fateful decision that led directly to the Athenian defeat in the Peloponnesian War, which sunk forever Athens’ aspiration to be a world power.  After his death, the merciless Carthaginians would invade...

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Wednesday’s Child: Eating an Englishman

An extraordinary episode set Moscow’s beau monde on its ear last week–extraordinary in the sense that, if a cannibal, instead of boiling an Englishman in the nude, were to eat him together with his bowler hat, silk umbrella, and brogues by John Lobb of St. James’s Street, this might be considered outrageous cannibal behavior.  “What an extraordinary way to act at table,” other, more fastidious cannibals would be heard muttering. A veteran journalist by the name of Viktor Shenderovich was interviewed on “Moscow Echo”–supposedly the last oasis of dissent yet extant in the Russian media mainstream–and made some remarks about...

13

Empathetically Correct, Part 2

  A July piece in theNew York Times written by three psychology professors made the case for leftist empathy. The authors objected to an argument made by a fellow psychologist,  Paul Bloom, who denigrated empathy as a “parochial, narrow-minded emotion” that “will have to yield to reason if humanity is to survive”. Apparently, Mr. Bloom is one who believes that empathy in the Angelina Jolie save-a-continent sense is a source of “moral failure.” The authors retort : “While we concede that the exercise of empathy is, in practice, often far too limited in scope, we dispute the idea that this shortcoming is inherent,...

1

Making War on the War on the War Against Christmas

Everyone these days seems to have some complaint against the Christmas holiday.  You’ve heard them all by now, Muslims and Jews whining about “inclusiveness,” downtown storeowners complaining about the chainstores in the malls, and chainstores complaining about Amazon.   Small wonder people are so depressed this time of year.  Not only is the sun disappearing—and who knows if the global warmingists will ever let it return?—but everyone and his Buddhist brother has some ax to grind. The late Herbert W. Armstrong of the Worldwide Whacky Church of G-d Knows What used to do an annual radio broadcast denouncing Christmas.  Crazy...

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Cicero, De Officiis: On Justice

Cicero divides the pursuit of duty into five  aspects, and, although much of Book I is taken up in explaining the division, he conveniently restates it near the beginning of II (ch. iii), where he proposes five principles.  Two are concerned with what is right and proper; two with convenience; one with the possible conflict between what is morally right and what is convenient or useful.  Book I is concerned, generally, with the morally right, and specifically with the four virtues of wisdom, justice, courage, and temperance–simple terms in English, but quite complex, both in reality and in Cicero’s treatment....

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Wednesday’s Child: Planet of the Apes

  Gentle reader may remember that I was in London last week in aid of a friend charged with racism for calling a Negro cabdriver an ape.  Fine arguments marshaled by the defense came to naught once the female judge had had a good look at the defendant’s shoes. These were polished to a high shine, and clean shoes are, as the defendant ought to have known at his age, a telltale sign of racist attitudes in white males.  He was found guilty and fined. Lest my reader think I am being facetious, I draw his attention to this post’s...

1

Empathetically Correct

    The outrage over Donald Trump’s remarks in recent weeks  has not only been hysterical and pitiful; it has, on a very fundamental level, exposed one of the most pernicious pillars of post-Christian psychobabble in the modern West: namely, the extolling and promotion of “empathy” as a moral guidepost. The response to Trump may have been the most clear example to date of how this very clever trick from the evil one has created a nasty cultural infection in America and Europe. It is a form of Christian heresy, perhaps not as overt as Luther’s challenge to the Church in...

5

Properties of Blood I.2: Love and Hate, Part D

The Everlasting Paleolithic Man Since Descartes, moral and political philosophers have tended to turn away from ordinary human experience and drawn up moral codes and political schemes that seem more like Aristophanes’ Nephelococcygia (Land of the Cuckoos-in-the-Clouds) than any human polity.  Classical liberals wanted to eliminate or attenuate formal social classes, established religion, and irrational bonds of kinship; Marxists would abolish property and economic distinction; more recent radicals want to banish sexual differences and to subject the family to governmental control.  The goal of all these projectors was a rationally designed society controlled by the state and based on principles...

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Reading for the Movies 3:  Lavender Blue

Twenty years before Rascal (1963), one of the true masterpieces of American children’s literature–heck, of American literature, period–Sterling North gave us Midnight and Jeremiah, a beautifully illustrated (by Kurt Wiese; I’m trying to figure out the media, guessing pastel crayon and brush and ink on textured paper) novella that I suppose would be called a “chapter book” for young readers in today’s market. It’s a honey of a story, about an orphaned little boy in rural southern Indiana, circa 1903, who persuades his grandmother to let him bottle-raise a black lamb rejected by its dam.  The boy is Jeremiah Kincaid,...