Essays in Idleness


Don’t think twice

There were two reasons why I did not immediately comment on the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature (Kipling, Tagore, Yeats, Undset, Mann, Eliot, Perse …) to Bob Dylan. One was that Mr Essays-in-Idleness does not feel the need to comment on every passing item of news, and has not done since the last […]

All about Nothing

The point of Confession is not to mortify one’s pride, but to disable it. Of this I am reminded by an old philosophical friend, on the second anniversary of whose death I happened to be born. Pride can be mortified easily enough — you don’t need any religion for that. In fact, it tends to be […]

An anti-globalist tirade

Why do people want what they don’t want? This could be confused with a fundamental Platonic question, but I want it to be only slightly confused. If, arguably, people could see the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, there would be no evil. They would know better than to entertain invidious thoughts; […]


There are many virtues I lack, but among them Patience, which I take as a species of Fortitude, is conspicuous for its absence, perhaps even to some of my gentle readers. This is especially unbecoming in an advocate of philosophical Idleness, who holds that we direct our energies habitually towards the wrong things. There is […]

Hard rain chronicles

History will never repeat itself, precisely, any more than two sunsets will be exactly alike, or the wind will blow everywhere in the same way. Yet there are patterns, themes, human habits, that are extremely repetitive, and the intelligent student of history will notice them. There is “nothing new under the sun,” and the wise […]

A good & righteous man

“O dark dark dark, they all go into the dark, the vacant interstellar places, the vacant into the vacant.” I see from the news that King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX of the remarkable Chakri dynasty, has died after seventy years’ reign in Thailand. He had been key fixture of the national life, on the throne […]

A Grician implicature

From my usual astronomical distance, I have been following the “controversy” in the Midwest Society of Christian Philosophers. I was, to start, only vaguely aware such a thing existed. Here I must confess to a slight eccentricity. When a man (or even a woman) describes himself as “a philosopher,” I instinctively guffaw. I will accept, calmly, […]

Magnificent men

It is time those Americans came to the defence of Latino immigrants, starting with the crews of Cristóbal Colón (or Christophorus Columbus as we say in Latin; or Cristoffa Combo in his native Ligurian, which carries a nice salsa beat). Someone sent me the latest fatuities from the liberal-progressive campaign to have “Columbus Day” in the United […]

How strange

I cannot tell gentle reader how shocked (shocked!) I am to learn that Donald Trump talks dirty in private; or that Hillary Clinton says one thing to small paying audiences in Wall Street, and quite another to big audiences across the USA. This changes everything. It revolves my commitments 360 degrees. From a position of […]

Anchovy sandwiches

The life of an impresario is not to be recommended to any of my gentle readers. The money may be good, but you have to hang out with rock stars and stelle del cinema — boorish people who always order the most expensive wine on the list, and trash their hotel rooms. It is the […]

Towards silence

“At the beginning of our Eucharistic celebrations, how is it possible to eliminate Christ carrying his cross and walking painfully beneath the weight of our sins toward the place of sacrifice? There are many priests who enter triumphantly and go up to the altar, waving left and right in order to appear friendly. Observe the […]

A thought for Hierotheos Day

Do devils have rights? I should think they do, especially in our world, where even furry animals have rights, which can be spelt out and chartered. Apparently even polar ice shelves have rights, in the latest expositions of deep ecology. We would be wrong to melt them. And coal has the right to sleep undisturbed […]

Gender benders

There was a nasty incident in school, when I was a wee boy in Pakistan. It happened in a washroom, after a muddy school recess. (No showers there; instead, taps over a trough along one wall.) A child had been put up on a stool by the other children, in the middle of this dank, […]