Monthly Archive: December 2016

12

The Year 2016

Shostakovich, our last monumental composer–before the light of the ability to write more than ditties flickered out of our civilization – used years for two of his symphonies. Symphony No. 11 was The Year 1905, for that year’s Russian Revolution. And Symphony No. 12 was The Year 1917, dedicated to Lenin and the Bolshevik Revolution. (The links lead to YouTubes of performances of the works, if you’re inclined to listen. I did writing this.) The Year 2016 was such a year. I’ll highlight three monumental events: Brexit, Trump’s victory and the coalescing effort to stop Pope Francis from scratching adultery...

11

The Xanthippe, A Lost Dialogue, Part I (Free)

This mysterious work, when it was discovered in the late 20th century, was attributed to Plato, but in view of the philosopher’s appearance in the dialogue, that identification is as suspect as everything about the work.  The scholar and translator, who says he discovered the text in the ruins of a Calabrian monastery, claims the Greek original was destroyed in a fire.  Even if the tale is true, it is hard to know what to make of the translation, which makes anachronistic literary references and uses late 20th century expressions for which it is hard to imagine Greek equivalents.  Nonetheless,...

2

Wednesday’s Child:  The Technicolor Dreamcoat (Free)

Truth may be stranger than fiction, especially in places where the writers ain’t all they’re cracked up to be, but these days, I swear, even apparently random facts seem to be running away with themselves in the land of Gogol. I have made two posts, one in April and one in October, highlighting the creation in Russia of the equivalent of Himmler’s Schutzstaffel (SS), called the National Guard (Rosgvardia), and speculating on the likely function of this 350,000-strong presidential private army.  Recent developments bear out my speculation.  Last week a senior Rosgvardia commander, Aleksandr Maul, made a statement that swept...

3

Neocons Freak Out (Free)

One of the pleasures of the impending Trump presidency is watching the neocons freak out, as we said in the 1960s. One of the biggest freak outs is by Charles Krauthammer, top columnist at the old CIA in-house organ, the Washington Post. Like almost all neocons, he’s really just a warmongering liberal. In his case, he even wrote speeches for Mondale, afterword moving slightly up from Mondaleism. In his most recent column, “Aleppo and American decline,” he wrote, “The fall of Aleppo just weeks before Barack Obama leaves office is a fitting stamp on his Middle East policy of retreat...

4

When Christmas Was Coming! (Free)

When Christmas was coming, Mama would start collecting medium-sized boxes which she would later decorate with bright Christmas paper for the purpose of taking food as a gift – a canned ham, some fruit, some nuts and some homemade candy- to the numerous “shut-ins” in and around Pollock. When Christmas was coming, out would come the reserve box of Christmas cards which were chosen, filled out, and stamped at the dining table some pre-Christmas night after supper. I usually chose a card for a particular person or family; Mama filled it out and addressed the envelope, and Daddy would break...

19

Keeping Christmas, Part II: How the (Conservative) Grinches Stole Christmas

  …And replaced it with commercial nostalgia. Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, there was still a comfortable feeling about Christmas and Easter.  True, they were being undermined by hardworking non-Christian retailers who preferred to hawk Santa and the Easter Bunny rather than proclaim the birth and resurrection of the Savior their ancestors rejected, and one of my pieces in The Southern Partisan took up the commercial sacrilege we had to endure twice a year.  Some friends, Christian as well as Jews, were annoyed, but perhaps in these benighted times they will think better of their response.  When I find...

7

Keeping Christmas, Part I: Even Atheists Can Celebrate

This is a detached fragment of A Life in Shreds and Patches. As a cynical youth, I used to listen to Herbert W. Armstrong on the radio.  Armstrong was a bona fide American kook: an anti-sabbatarian British Israelite—from Iowa, naturally—and an autodidact who read copiously and recklessly to find evidence to fit his surrealistic theories about the Bible and human history.  Armstrong hated Christmas, so every Christmas he devoted one of the episodes of his radio program, The World Tomorrow, to the evils of Christmas—the crimes, depressions, drug overdoses, and—above all suicides—that he would cite and recite with glee to...

1

Boethius Book Club, Episode 10: The Odyssey

By

This month’s selection is The Odyssey. Our first discussion one year ago, you will recall, took up the books devoted to Telemachus. The discussion was quite good but limited. Although everyone probably has read the Odyssey more than once, and I know that many reread the whole thing for last August’s meeting, we shall be concentrating mainly on the opening of Book I, Books V-VIII, XI, and XIII-XXIV. In this next installment, we shall take up the character and homecoming of Odysseus and explore more deeply the Homeric view of man, the gods, and justice. We might even engage in...

2

Wednesday’s Child:  Wheat of the Saracen (Free)

“Idiot!” exclaims the driver of the car I’m in, referring to the man ahead who has just pulled out, or cut him up, or whatever it is that motorists do to each other which they oughtn’t.  In exclaiming thus he pronounces judgment on his fellow man where the verdict is shorter than a sentence.  It’s called an insult. An insult is different from a slur in that no inferences are drawn about the person apart from those suggested by his behavior of the moment. He was cursed, yet remains a stranger.  Calling the erratic driver in front a “bastard” would...

5

A Humble Request for Support

2016 was a pretty good year for The Fleming Foundation.  We managed to post, on average, about one piece a day on the website and we added a number of new writers, who contributed articles, editorial columns, written interviews, and podcasts. Our list of contributors now includes, in addition to Andrei Navrozov, Frank Brownlow, and myself:  John Seiler, Clyde Wilson, Roger McGrath, Srdja Trifkovic, Marco Bassani, E. Christian Kopff, Red Phillips, and Stephen Heiner.  Until November, certain complications made it difficult to publish as many other writers as I wanted, but, now that this obstacle has been eliminated, Fleming.Foundation is...