The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary

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Wednesday’s Child: Damned if We Do, Damned if We Don’t

I cannot but agree with my learned friend Dr. Fleming, who writes in response to last week’s post – where I suggested that the official explanations of a recent terror bombing, which the Russian blogosphere unanimously rejects, may be intentionally implausible – “Give me the serenity to ignore what I do not know.”  My instinctive concurrence with my friend’s apophthegm, however, comes with an autobiographical caveat. The Russian émigré grandmother of an acquaintance of mine, a Hohenlohe by birth, refused to come out of her house in Rio de Janeiro to look at Sputnik, which everybody said could be seen...

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A Life in Shreds and Pages: Excursus, “The Return of the Alien,” Part A (FREE)

This is a slightly revised version of a Perspective published in 1999.   John Lukacs was kind enough to send me a note complimenting the prose. His father used to say that the country was good; it was the people that made it intolerable.  Now his father’s son was headed up to that North country, where he had not lived for forty years.  He had been back, several times over the years, fishing for trout on the Brule River or trolling for walleye on the Chippewa Flowage.  He had visited the desolate city of his birth several times, and once...

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Ask the Autodidact, #1 (FREE)

Ask the Autodidact This column is a work in progress.  I have invited several teachers and home-schooling parents to work together in improving the reading list, posting articles on important aspects of the classical  inheritance, and to take part in discussions initiated by questions Brother Martin, who works in a classical academy, writes in to ask: Would you mind sharing your thoughts on an educational issue, namely, the length of the school day, amount of homework, and such things.  When you have time, would you mind sharing your thoughts on an educational issue, namely, the length of the school day,...

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Properties of Blood II.1, Part C: The Family as a Little Commonwealth

Economic Autonomy Thus far we have been looking at the family as an expression of blood-ties and the affections they engender.  In a broader sense, however, the household is a model for the commonwealth..  As an economic institution, the household combined both production and consumption functions.  Food was grown, stored, and prepared on the home place, and items for exchange or sale were produced by family members working at home.  Some of the household’s economic tasks, obviously, had to be performed outside the home: Men and boys worked the fields or tended the cattle, and in their free time hunted...

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Properties of Blood II.1: The Family Castle, parts A and B revised (FREE)

Properties of Blood II, Chapter 1: The Family Castle It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me. In Tennnyson’s poem, Ulysses, growing old on Ithaca, longs to resume his travels.  In the ancient legend, however, Ulysses—or, to give him his Greek name, Odysseus—was forced against his will to lead a life of adventure.  He fought in the greatest war his people ever heard of; he knew gods, befriended...

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Season 1, Latin, Episode 8

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Join Dr. Fleming on another episode of “Dialogues with a Young Latin Teacher” featuring Eleanor Lacy. This lesson begins with the fifth declension and the use and formation of the imperfect indicative. Program Notes: A.  Clarifying Texts   Cum essem parvulus, loquebar ut parvulus, cogitabam ut parvulus. Quando autem factus sum vir, evacuavi quæ erant parvuli. Videmus nunc per speculum in ænigmate: tunc autem facie ad faciem. Nunc cognosco ex parte: tunc autem cognoscam sicut et cognitus sum. Nunc autem manent fides, spes, caritas, tria hæc: major autem horum est caritas. B  Pedagogy :  Questions from Eleanor C  Nouns  ...

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An Ancient Ploughman’s Breakfast

Here is a description of a hungry farmer who has to grind his own flour to make bread and then slathers it with a pungent cheese spread. ….Then immediately He piles it on a board that’s smooth, and pours Upon it tepid water, now he brought Together flour and fluid intermixed, With hardened hand he turns it o’er and o’er And having worked the liquid in, the heap He in the meantime strews with salt, and now His kneaded work he lifts, and flattens it With palms of hand to rounded cake, and it With squares at equal distance pressed...

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Syria Strike Aids Trump’s Enemies, Alienates Friends

  “I reward my friends and [expletive] my enemies,” was how the noted political philosopher Bill Clinton once explained his governance. It’s pure Machiavellianism, but it worked for him. And while such amorality is an abomination, the kernel of truth is that a politician needs friends, and needs to keep them, because he certainly will gain plenty of enemies whatever he does. I’ll provide some examples in a minute. President Trump seems not to understand that his Syria attack endangers his entire presidency because it repulsed his truest friends, who backed him no matter what during the long and bloody...

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Wednesday’s Child: A Blast of Cynicism

Say what you will, democracy has a responsible side.  Hardly anybody in America believed the findings of the Warren Commission, but you can never argue it was for want of trying on the part of its members, or for that matter on the part of those who had organized the assassination.  In totalitarian countries, by contrast, a lie is thought to be wasted on the populace unless it’s a white lie, and a conspiracy that is convincingly covered up is simply not worth the blood of the victims. So it is with the news of the recent blast in the...

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The Balkans Powder Keg, Again (FREE CONTENT)

It’s a complete mess! The Balkans are becoming once again the powder keg of the European continent.   In the turbulent nineties, the peninsula experienced the creation of several artificial states, such as Kosovo, Bosnia and FYROM, that became cradles of Islamic terrorism as well as headquarters for criminal organizations.  Now, once again, Balkan governments are undermining the stability of Europe. Everywhere we look, there is trouble. Belgrade is plagued by antigovernment rallies and protests. The population of tiny Montenegro sharply is divided over NATO membership.  In Athens the leftist gang in power has opened the Greek and therefore European border...