Essays in Idleness


Month: July, 2016

On crime & punishment & wrath

Anger is not “useless.” Were it so, it could be ignored. It does not like to be ignored, however, so that often we must deal with it. Often, too, it is quite justified. This is especially so in a conflict where anger is being used tactically. The general coolly does things to make his opponent […]

Deus lo vult

Today, according to the Roman Martyrology, we celebrate a saint “who protected the freedom of the Church against the encroachments of the laity; fought against corrupt and simoniacal clergy, and, at the Council of Claremont, urged Christian soldiers that, signed with the Cross, they liberate their oppressed brethren from the infidels and free the Lord’s […]


Some things I lack the stomach for, and I’ve been unable to watch even short snippets from either of the American political conventions. One checks the news by Internet, receives it through email, notices headings in the newspaper boxes grouped by the trolley stop. Sometimes they are yuge. People leave papers in the seats, full […]

Confronting evil with joss sticks

On checking the news later, I discovered that I had not chosen the perfect morning to write lightly about the phenomenon of “hatred.” Or perhaps I had. One reader complained that my piece on the artist Mondrian yesterday was, in light of breaking news from France, in “extremely poor taste.” He proposed that I take […]

The joy of hatred

A minor matter it may be, and with no legal repercussions, I hope, but let me mention that I hate Piet Mondrian. I only realized this yesterday. Prior to that I rather liked him, or more precisely, dutifully applauded his uncompromising abstractions, his pursuit of “the absolute” in growing disregard of all the traditional “content” of […]

How to breed monsters

For some centuries now, the method of the progressives has been certainly anti-clerical, and even Averroëist; yet it is commendably mediaeval for all that. It is to identify “a problem” and then “solve” it, by making it larger. Let us say, for instance, that someone is starving. A narrow and impulsive solution might be to […]

Pictures at an exhibition

At each stage of our decline we have, it seems, exchanged one truth for another. Let me give an example. Photography was “invented” or “discovered” in the early nineteenth century. In fact, the pinhole camera was known many centuries before Christ to both Greeks and Chinese; and the Byzantines had, during our Western “Dark Ages,” […]

Why no one writes books any more

People ask why I don’t write books. Not many people, but some, and those happily among my readers. The subset of these readers who are publishers is nil. It is now almost fifteen years since the last of those bothered me, with a proposal (soon after 9/11) that I write a book on Islam. Cleverly, […]

How to save the environment

“O Lord, deliver us from these turkeys,” is not an orthodox prayer. I cannot imagine a single Catholic saint (or saint of any of the Eastern Churches) muttering it. But then, like Pope Francis, I deny being a saint. Better, I think, to recite the Jesus Prayer, if we are in need of a one-line […]

All the bells are ringing

Was Melania’s speechwriter being droll, in using lines resembling those in an old speech by Michelle? Or perhaps Melania’s husband let her write the speech herself? Or did Democrat hackers break into her teleprompter? In which case, why didn’t they just change the text to Hindi as she came on stage? (Hindi not being among […]

Why our problems are insoluble

As previously reported on this website, the world is falling apart. It has done so before, however, so we should not be unduly alarmed. Given only a few centuries of “dark ages” with physical insecurity and economic stasis, it is quite capable of reassembling itself. Patience is the key. Let us take Turkey, for this […]


Rouault was born under a bombardment of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War. (In 1871; died 1958.) In the district of Belleville, before it was an arrondissement, he first saw the light of this world. A shell hit the side of the house, sending his mother into labour. The extended family within retreated to the cellar. Grandfather […]

Nasty in Nice

What is the news here? … A lorry drives a mile through trapped crowds at a Bastille Day celebration, killing dozens of people along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The driver was a Muslim terrorist, as usual. Police finally shot him dead. They are now looking into his background and connexions. And? … That […]