Category: Feature


Samuel Johnson, Our Greatest Moralist: Conclusion

In his moral writings, Dr. Johnson showed himself a devotee to  duty almost on the level with Robert E. Lee’s, who described it as “the sublimest word in the English language, adding,  “You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more, you should never wish to do less.”   The concept of duty has been somewhat tarnished by Victorian moralists who too often seem to be advocating the virtue of prigs, and, worse, by  philosophers who, since the 18th century,  have got into the habit of regarding all duties as abstract, universal, and rational. A locus classicus for this approach...


War Could End the Trump Administration

It didn’t take long for President Trump to let the dogs of war bite him. Item: He just attacked Syria with a “targeted military stroke” on an airfield supposedly used by President Assad for chemical attacks. But what if reports the chemical weapons are “fake news”? The reports came from the U.S. intelligence community, which hates Trump and, as we now know, relentlessly spied on him, his family and his campaign, while conjuring up the fake news of his collusion with Russia. Why would Syria use chemical weapons, bringing condemnation on itself, it it’s now winning the war against the...


Wednesday’s Child: The Möbius Syndrome

The Möbius strip, twisting back on itself in an endless loop, is how most people visualize the past, present, and – consequently – future of civilization. This seamless plane of recurrence is punctuated by popular historical concepts, such as “tyranny,” “slavery,” “war,” “revolution,” “famine,” “torture,” or else by such allegedly universal memes as “family,” “happiness”, or “wealth.”  Even those hysterically optimistic punters who believe that the history of civilization is progressive – which would imply that its topography is less like the closed loop than like an upwardly mobile parabola – cannot escape the pervasive myth of endless recurrence enshrined...


Mat Rarey, RIP

I learned today, from several sources, that my former assistant Matthew Rarey has died.  Mat was still a young man.  I have no idea, at this point, what happened, but he had been very troubled in recent years. He yearned for the best, and if he often fell short, he was hardly different from the rest of us.  I’ll write more later, perhaps, since Mat kept in constant touch with me.


The O’ Reilly–Rotten from the Beginning

In the current tempest in a teapot over Bill O’Reilly’s allegedly indecent behavior toward women, no one seems willing to state the obvious:  The fellow–by no means a man–is both a bully and a toady, the embodiment of the lying conservative journalism at FOX.  This is a corrected and improved version of a Perspective published long long ago in 2001.   Some celebrities seem born with a natural star-power that radiates from them like an angelic halo.  Alcibiades, so it is said, had this kind of “charisma,” to make himself adored even by people who disliked him.  To be a...


Wednesday’s Child: The Old and the Reckless

Last week I mentioned Lampedusa.  Scion of a princely family who wrote his only book aged 58 and did not live to see it published or declared a masterwork of world literature, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa would have inherited his ancestral palazzo in Palermo – about a hundred yards from my house – had it not been for an Allied bomb that leveled it.  Later he moved to another splendid palazzo nearby, because, as the Serbs say, “caviar is eaten not by those who can afford it, but by those who are used to it,” a wise adage that I...


Down With “the Arts”!

Art is a noble human attempt to make beauty and sense out of human experience.  “The Arts” are an ignoble scam by which no-talent bums force the taxpayers to subsidize their indolence.  I received an email today from a friend who has done good work in one of the more popular arts.  He is an enthusiastic Trump supporter, but he was calling upon his friends to “do what we can to reverse this ill advised decision before it is too late.” My distinguished friend’s argument is that the Trump administration will be “throwing away an opportunity to move the culture and...


The Shaming of Shame, Part A by Jack Trotter

Warning:  This in a brilliant and original essay on a difficult and unpleasant subject that goes to the evil and perverse heart of contemporary feminism.  Of necessity it includes precise  references to the female anatomy, questions of hygiene, as well as obscene quotations from feminist writers.    It is not recommended for children or adolescents or for any reader who visits this website in order to escape from, not wallow in, the muck of the world around us.   When I first became an editor, I should never have dreamed of publishing such a piece, but as times change, and...


Women of the World Unite:  You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Freedom and Dignity.

“Two paradises ’twere in one To live in paradise alone” Reading those lines from “the Garden,” an incautious reader might imagine that the poet—Andrew Marvell—did not limit his Puritan tendencies to theology and politics but hated womankind with the fury of a John Knox.  In fact, Marvell was a woman-loving man who wrote several of the best erotic (I don’t mean dirty!) poems in English.  God bless him: He was only a hypocrite. Marvell’s lines came to mind when I read news of the feminist plans to mark today’s international celebration of women by refusing to go to work.  At first...


Wednesday’s Child: This Way Up (6)

In short, in the professional view of a gossip columnist on an evening paper, it was bizarre that the tug of war over Second Nature – a difficult book by an obscure author brought out by a small publisher – should attract public notice.  And the truth is, it was those who so improbably saw the obscure author crying out de profundis as a threat to themselves and their own departmental peace of mind who made the ensuing imbroglio what it was.  Thus, in the Observer, ancient Anthony Burgess had been given half a page to deal with four centenary...