Essays in Idleness


On a question of taste

It has been observed, in some book I was perusing which I can recommend to no one, that in the old Roman literature, the views on gardening are only those of a literate male elite, and that moreover, they have more to say on the “male discourse” about gardens than about “women’s lived experience in […]

On the speed of mercy

Father Mark A. Pilon’s piece in The Thing this morning (here) gives an unusually frank account of the mess Holy Church is now passing through, which (Warren opining now) may yet prove a blessing. Sometimes war offers the only way forward; or in this case, the “moral equivalent” thereto. There are acts — there could […]

A path will emerge

As I have perhaps mentioned before, somewhere or other — I write a lot, you know — there is a saying among the drivers of Delhi three-wheelers that deeply appeals to me. I have cited it in my headline. Some context is necessary to understand this saying. Gentle reader must place himself imaginatively on the […]

In defence of economic backwardness

[Have, truth to tell, slightly extended this since first posted.] * The last generation of Communists in power, in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, suffered from a debilitating foible. They did not themselves believe in the ideology they were preaching. Their efforts were thus directed to getting around the realities their forebears had not anticipated. […]

Funny old world chronicles

A piece of legislation passed our provincial legislature, yesterday. Should gentle reader be curious, and patient, he may begin exhuming details himself (here, for instance). We are not in Kansas any more. They are not even in Kansas any more, even in Kansas,  as I am reminded by another current news item, about a “sperm […]

On the transience of things

Anything worth making will be hard to make; anything worth expressing will be hard to express; anything worth thinking will be hard to think. That is how things are, and will continue to be, even in an environment that could be said almost to cultivate the glib and the fatuous. Our condition is terminal, but […]

Advent Sunday

Once again “the rousing time” is upon us, in the beginning of a new liturgical year. This phrase of the late Jesuit, Father Delp — butchered by the Nazis in early 1945 — has fixed in my mind among the explanations for Advent. (See here. And here, for that matter.) God is sowing now; one […]

Pass the cigars

Oh look! Fidel Castro is dead. Nil nisi bonum, I can hear my gentlest readers thinking. Speak “naught but good” of the dead (for at least a few days). As the Romans could tell you — even their mortuary assistants — this is just good manners. And wise tactics, should one happen to be surrounded by […]

On rigidity

Anything clearly thought can be clearly expressed, according to several of my former teachers. To be clear, I don’t think that’s always true, though I fear it might be, and would not wish to align myself with the naysayers, or with the mad. My clear idea of the starling that has alighted on my balconata […]

Jour de l’action de grâce américain

As my heading might indicate, “American Thanksgiving” can sound a little awkward in Canada’s other national language, which is why, in defiance of the Quebec language police, it is often altered from Jour de l’action de grâce américain to “Thanksgiving” — but pronounced in the basilectal joual. Too, in the Jour de l’action de grâce canadien, it […]

That smile

A little question on statistics afflicts me. It has to do with the abortion rate. We are told sometimes that it has fallen, slightly, in most Western countries, and too, that opposition to abortion is modestly growing. From the pro-life position things are getting better, mostly because modern technology, with which the living baby in the […]

Cry havoc, &c

My views on art, recently over-expressed, extend to the art of war, and I have long appreciated Patton-style generals, though even more the Nelson and Wellington styles. And there are many other ways to be a sterling general, as we learn from the classics, having all in common clear heads and the pleasure they take […]

First snow

“But pray that your flight be not in the winter …” First snow in Parkdale, today, though not enough to gather. The temperature dropped, the winds rose, telling us that winter is coming. To church, for the last Sunday of the ecclesiastical year; for the Old Mass. In the New Mass, they celebrated Christ the […]