Essays in Idleness


Month: January, 2017

Extra extra

Several readers of the hard violent Right are disturbed to find Mr Trump so aggressive; I’ve been chatting with them on current news. Let me continue with a footnote to what I wrote yesterday. Trumpf, but also Steve Bannon and a few lessers, are civil warmongers to be sure, and adrenaline junkies. (Bannon a former Benedictine […]

Chronicles of frothing hysteria

I love phrases like “frothing hysteria.” They are so frothing, so hysterical. Over the weekend I heard this one from both sides of the current American Civil War. It hasn’t got to uniforms, yet — you can’t get people to dress properly, these days — but it has become obvious that the line is drawn between […]

Schall at eighty-nine

“To be at peace with the absurdities of the world, which he knows to be part of a divine plan he doesn’t presume to grasp fully.” (Weigel on Schall, echoing Saint Peter, quoted by Deavel in Catholic World Report.) By a happy chance I discover that today Father James V. Schall enters his ninetieth year. […]

Of numbers & mendacity

The way to estimate crowd size that I was taught goes like this. Go to the highest place you can reach, create an approximate mental grid with the help of fixed objects, count the people in a few squares to get the approximate density, then multiply by the number of squares that look filled. You […]

What is a reactionary?

I have a confession to make to gentle reader. When I describe myself as “a man of the thirteenth century,” it is an “alternative fact.” In other words, it is not true. According to my passport, and birth certificate, I was actually born around the middle of the twentieth century. That may seem a long […]

Escolios in Bogotá

The final nightmare of modernism, foreseen by Nicolás Gómez Dávila, seems outwardly to be upon us, but the fact it was so clearly foreseen speaks against its finality. Dávila, the great Colombian reactionary, so perfectly foresaw “the trend in world events,” that with all his gifts of penetrating reason he embraced a knowing reclusiveness, and […]

Orpheus descending

[Updated irresponsibly, overnight.] * Poetry should “make the visible a little harder to see” (Wallace Stevens), and should provide “a bombardment of proofs that the world is one” (Richard Wilbur). This much is obvious, but there are more subtle services poetry should provide. It should afflict alike the comfortable and uncomfortable; shock in a sudden, […]

The morning after the night before

Doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink. Admits to a germ phobia. Works twenty hours a day. This might be a crazy man. Or possibly an android. But androids aren’t vain. And besides, he admits that he is vain, unlike the previous android. Prides himself especially on his “common sense.” He also seems to have a sense of […]

On victory

“Go with God,” my father used to instruct me, at each parting. This, he once told me, was what his own father had often said to him. Yet papa was lapsed from his family’s Methodist church-going past, and not externally even a Christian, let alone the Catholic his son became. Until, I think, his very […]

Roll up, roll up!

Several correspondents who berated me (in fairly colourful language) for opposing Trump through the Republican primaries now congratulate me for “warming to him.” I find this odd, since most had said they wouldn’t be reading me any more. Too, I’m not aware of warming to Trump. Nor has my pleasure in the defeat of Hillary […]

Darning & darnation

There was a sitting room in England, once, with a serviceable hearth. It was small, and in a house that was small. There was a small couch, and a couple of wooden chairs, both mended. Books piled everywhere, as normal. The walls were of a green horsehair plaster, one hundred and fifty years old; and […]

Yachting news

Suppose, for the sake of having an argument, that gentle reader has his legs chomped off. We are to understand that this was not a voluntary action; or not entirely voluntary. He had foreseen the use of his legs for the rest of his mortal existence, and was sincerely committed to keeping them attached. He […]

A settled science

Better-looking people get higher marks in school. They are more popular than their peers, there and ever after. They get better jobs, earn higher salaries, glean more praise and are more quickly promoted. Their houses are thus bigger, and filled with better stuff. They commit fewer crimes, or if they do commit one, the courts will […]