Category: Fleming


An Interview with Anthony Bukoski, Introduction

Anthony Bukoski is one of the finest living fiction writers in America.  Born and reared in Superior (Wisconsin)—a town often considered the cultural nadir of the Upper Midwest—he is the opposite of the mouse, which in the Latin tale emerged from a mountain:  He is the lion that came out of the molehill of rusting grain elevators and abandoned trainyards, the city with the greatest number of bars per capita probably in the world and a house of ill fame known across the world. He attended Superior State University (which is what everyone called it before they started putting on...


The Life of an Autodidact, Conclusion

Every significant literary or intellectual movement is really a little community of friends, who encourage each others’ talents and correct each others’ faults until they are thinking thoughts and writing poems they might otherwise never have attempted.  I think of the influence of Belloc on Chesterton or, better still, of the Fugitive poets whose most creative period were their years at Vanderbilt and in the few following years before the group was shattered by ambition, mistrust, and the influence of more important friends out in the Great World. The absence of such a community of colleagues and disciples is the...


The Life of an Autodidact, Part One of Two

This is a revised version of a piece first published in 2014. Once upon a time I decided to learn Japanese.  I had none of the usual practical reasons: no business interests that would take me to Japan nor even an academic project comparing Noh plays with Attic tragedy.  I knew next to nothing of Japan, though as a child my imagination had been stirred by the Mikado, and later, when a college friend persuaded me to read the Tale of Genjii, my mind was haunted by images of beautiful men and women spending languorous evenings composing allusive verses to...


Got to Laugh to Keep from Crying

Another morality play has been played out.  Catholic high school kids from Kentucky—obviously Southern bigots—harassed a Native American Marine, a Vietnam veteran, and one of the all-white adolescent louts deliberately got in his way and, with a smug grin on his face, humiliated the brave old man.  They should be expelled, cried the watchdogs in the media, their school should be humiliated.  One particularly repellant female demanded the release of their names and addresses so that outraged leftists could tar and feather them.  Another depicted the students being put–MAGA hat first–through a chipper. The best line came from the bastion...


Direct Election: A Grave Threat to Republics

John Seiler has posted a sensible column on why the electoral college is not going to disappear in a puff of smoke.  He points out that one of the great compromises that made the Constitution possible is an electoral system that protects the interests of smaller states without eliminating all the advantage enjoyed by larger states.  There is, however, another aspect of the electoral college that is worth looking at:  the principle of indirect election.


The Future Belongs to Them

The freshman Democrats in Congress are behaving like the stars of a down-market reality TV show.  Alexandria—like Cher and Madonna, she really doesn’t need a last name—has been dancing up a storm, though many of her supporters have been disappointed by her lumbering performance.  


Trog 6

Most of us Americans, by the time we reach a certain age, have grown used to living in our own houses with our own families and under our own rules.  Travel upsets all our  arrangements, and in hotels we are subjected to other people’s arguments and, what is worse, to other people’s children.  Here in Agrigento, we have our own little house, which is really just two apartments that make up one building.  But, for all the privacy we have, we are still on other people’s property. The other people are used to strangers, since they operate a very nice...


Imperialism From the Cradle to the Grave, Conclusion

In the bad old days of previous centuries and millennia,  conquering nations trashed the civilizations they occupied for diverse reasons.  (I am not now speaking of looting, which can sometimes be a back-handed token of esteem.) Some savages and barbarians just like breaking things.  Since they cannot create, they can at least destroy.  Sometimes it is to teach a lesson.  “You think you Jews can play power-politics by making an alliance with the Egyptians?  Watch this!”  Sometimes, the point is to destroy symbols and traditions to which the conquerors object on moral grounds:  Cortez was a ruthless man, but the...


How to Learn–and Not to Learn–a Foreign Language, Part II. Defining Goals

Many people, embarking upon a serious study of a living foreign language, dream of acquiring fluency.  While this is probably an impossible dream for most of us, so are a virtuous life, athletic prowess, and saintliness.  The difficulty should be no deterrent to the determined, though we must always keep in mind the very remote chance that we could ever succeed. What do I mean by fluency?  My second Greek teacher, Walton Morris, had a rigorous definition.  In the 1950’s he had worked in Army intelligence along the French-German border, gathering information on Communist activities.  One day, he would pose...


Trog 5: Excelsior!

Ancient Akrágas was built on top of a steep hill overlooking the sea.  In its century of prosperity from the late 6th to the early 5th century, when it was mercilessly destroyed by the Carthaginians, the city spread down to a ridge that slid steeply to the sea.  It was on that lofty brow that Theron, the lord of Akrgas, began constructing temples even before he teamed up with Gelon, the lord of Syracuse, to defeat the Carthaginians, who had invaded the island from the North.   I am using the term “lord,” because the Greek term, tyrannos, is almost...