Category: Fleming

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Properties of Blood, I.6: In Defense of Honor, Part C

Opponents of dueling have made many valid arguments against staking life and honor on swordsmanship or marksmanship, and not all of them went so far as Twain in deriding the very notion of personal honor.   Before evaluating the arguments on both sides, we should have some understanding of what this honor is that would cause a man to risk death.  In the 21st century, honor has little meaning in vernacular English.  It can hardly be used without quotation marks or an ironic intonation of the voice.  This was not always so.  Once upon a time, one could take for...

6

The Art of Degradation, Part I

It is a good thing that rhetoric is a lost art, because anyone with the most elementary knowledge of rhetoric would be sticking blunt objects into his ears to keep from hearing not just the politicians’ speeches but, even more, the pundit’s comments and questions. I am not referring to the bad grammar and mispronunciation of NPR newsreaders who cannot pronounce words like “tour” but invariably say “tore” or even to the effeminate and uncontrolled sing-song chanting of the TV announcers or the hilariously inaccurate diction of people who think “fraught” means something like “full of anxiety or trouble” and...

7

Jerks O: Introduction, Part A

Everyone in America is constantly complaining about Jerks:  the Jerk who cut them off in traffic, the Jerks at the office who never wash their lunch dishes and leave them for their junior colleagues or overworked secretaries, the Jerk father who lets his toddlers run around screaming in the nice restaurant where you have taken your girlfriend to propose, the Jerk that pushed his airline seat back so violently that it sent your coffee flying–he’s the same Jerk who shouted for 15 minutes into his cellphone and then delayed the take-off because he would not turn it off when he...

15

Properties of Blood, I.6: In Defense of Honor, Part B

The Sense of Honor I could not love thee, dear, so much, Loved I not honor more. Richard Lovelace’s poem “To Lucasta” used to be one of those poems that everyone had to commit to memory, and these last two lines constituted the most oft-quoted reference to the principle of honor in English literature.  Lovelace was a young man of good family, whose loyalty to his king and church first sent him to war, later put him in prison, and ultimately plunged him into poverty.  He had left Oxford with an M.A. and was about to serve under Lord Goring...

6

Diary of a Jerk-Hunter, I: Gold Medal Jerks

My title is a little misleading.  It’s not as if anyone has to go in search of Jerks.  They are like mosquitoes in a tidal marsh:  They are inescapable. But, like mosquitoes, some species of Jerk are merely annoying, while others carry diseases far more dangerous to society than malaria or zika. Some years ago, I embarked on a project to which I gave the obvious title, Jerks.  My agent thought it was a brilliant idea and loved the initial pieces.  I dutifully spent a good deal of time writing up the outline, prospectus, etc., but nothing I prepared succeeded...

7

Urbs Aeterna in Carolina

Summary:  The Bad News is that a bad break has made it impossible to conduct a Greek program in October, but the Good News is that we are doing a little program in Charleston in the Winter.   The Bad News July 10th was a long day, sweltering in my Summer office, otherwise known as the porch.  Too much to do for the Summer Seminar, with far too little time left.  Most of my five lectures were more or less done, though I was embarrassed to realize, several days later, that I had neglected to finish one of them.  No...

0

The Art of Ugliness, Part II

This is the Conclusion of a piece I first published in 1980 in The Southern Partisan Quarterly Review (please note acronym). Trying to sort out this business of ugliness, I asked an artist friend in McClellanville, why the whole world was getting so ugly.  “Ugly is cheap,” he said.  “Beauty costs,” just the sort of practical remark I have come to expect from a painter.  The new shopping malls and fastfood shops in Chapel Hill are convincing evidence for the proposition.  Located out in no-man’s land or swamps, where acreage is cheap,  these stores and restaurants are built according to...

22

POB I.6:  In Defense of Honor, Part A

Charles Lee was a trained soldier.  The son of a British officer, he had served in North America and Portugal during the Seven Years War, and, later, he had gone to Poland  as aide-de-camp to the Polish King.  A strong Whig, he bought an estate in Virginia, where he sympathized strongly with the defense of American rights.  When the Revolution broke out, Lee, as the senior professional officer in the colonies, naturally expected to be made commander-in-chief of the American forces.  When the position went to George Washington, Lee was naturally unhappy.  When, at the Battle of Monmouth, Lee failed to...

0

Writing and Reading Verse, Part III

A few weeks ago, the Brownlows and some other friends were having lunch with us.  The conversation was lively, inclusive, and hit upon many diverse themes, but, when the conversation turned to versification, I could sense an opiate pall falling upon the table—“as though of hemlock I had drunk”—and in the last column on this subject I fear I have ridden my own hobby-horse, the intricate relations between verse and music—over the hills and far away. Let us return to the main topic, which is learning how to write competent verse, partly as a means to learning how to read...

2

The Art of Ugliness, Part I

This piece appeared  in the second issue (1980) of the Southern Partisan, which Clyde Wilson and I (along with John Shelton Reed, Sam Francis, and Chris Kopff) had created.  I have corrected a number of errors–including the quotation from the film version of Gone with the Wind–made several small  verbal improvements, and added some bits of  material I have always used in conversation.  These major additions I have indicated by square brackets.   Last month I took a short drive through the midriff of the Carolinas—through Georgetown, Conway, Marion, Latta, and Dillon, right through the middle of Rowland and Pittsboro all the...