Essays in Idleness


Month: January, 2015

For a Godly materialism

Thanks to a typo (“inox” for “inbox”) I found myself blathering this morning to a correspondent in email about steel. My mistake was Freudian, I’m sure: “inox,” from inoxydable, is what they call stainless steel in France. Everything is Freudian, once one has become a Freud. Or as we discover in perusing such as Partridge’s […]

Mysterium fidei

A wise lady who reads this Idleblog — I think her wisdom began in a fear of the godless, back in her native Prague — mentioned confusion while reading my last post. Words confuse us, and such quickly interchanging phrases as “rich in spirit” and “poor in spirit,” with negatives and double-negatives buzzing about, may […]

Of halcyon nests

The halcyon days were not in our fondly remembered past, but occur in the dead of winter, according to the best ancient and mediaeval sources. They are named for the bird who nests on the sea. That bird — which we might mistake for a kingfisher — has the power to calm the waves while […]

The ransomer

The plight of refugees, fleeing the hell-holes of North Africa to reach Europe in whatever boats will take them, is sometimes in the news. The Pope has often drawn attention to their needs, and chastised the unnamed for not helping them. The shocking truth is that Europeans have shown a diminished enthusiasm for Muslim immigration. […]

Deflationary asides

One generous reader put it best: the reason I’m a “complete idiot” is that I’m panicking about inflation when everyone else is panicking about deflation. We need to “print” money faster so people will spend. (It’s now done electronically, I’ve heard.) We ought to fear a downward spin through the drainhole: unemployment leading to less […]

101 household uses

On the subject of usury, I see the Greeks have voted to owe the Germans less money, in the latest triumph of democracy. They were a brilliant people, as we all learnt in school — further improved by South Slavic immigration, and honed through centuries of enslavement to the Infidel Turk. And good luck to […]

Be it done

To more than the usual degree, the other day, I found myself puzzled by comments on an article I had written (here). For a change, I wasn’t annoyed. Most had missed my point so widely that I could retreat into my private phantasmagoria, secure in the knowledge I had covered my traces with impenetrable gobble-de-goo. […]

To arms

Have we lost the awareness of the close bond that links the knowing of truth to the condition of purity? … You betcha. The line above is paraphrased from memory; it is surely from Josef Pieper. (Actually, the “you betcha” was added by me.) It came to mind while reading Barbara Kay’s review of When […]

Richard Lubbock

“The moment I was born, I knew that William James was right. The world of the new-born baby is indeed, ‘All one great blooming, buzzing confusion.’ I was alarmed and baffled by the tumult that raged around and inside me. Intuition told me, ‘Here’s something that matters greatly.’ Had I possessed language, I would have […]

Marching to nowhere

It was quite the spectacle in Washington today. Several hundred thousand had gathered for the forty-first annual March for Life, and the Republican Party —  bristling with its new majority in both houses of Congress — were tabling a bill to limit child-killing to the first twenty weeks in the mother’s womb. (The Judgment of […]


A contributor to some other anti-blog makes up for my indiscretion of yesterday by congratulating the Holy Father on his adherence to the traditional teaching of the Church, with respect to human breeding levels. His suggestion to reporters in the usual airborne scrum, that Catholics should not “breed like rabbits,” is thus well taken. While […]


The Gates of Hell shall not prevail, but perhaps it will be a close-run thing. This unpleasant thought occurred, hardly for the first time, in reading the latest rumours and “analyses” (it is getting harder to tell them apart) from the Vatican watchers. My worst fear, or rather, my worst fear that could be expressed […]

Teaching Shakespeare

I have the grimmest memories of being taught Shakespeare. It happened in a high school in Ontario in the ’sixties. I’m sure that my teacher meant well. It was on the curriculum, and what could she do? It started with Romeo and Juliet, in connexion with which we were taken to see a movie. This […]