The sale of souls

A certain Douglas — may he rest in peace — was a frequently welcome visitor at the Idler table on our Thursday nights, back in the day. On the other occasions, he might be the cause of “an incident” — owing, perhaps, to his over-consumption of fine French wines. I well remember an incident that followed one of his misunderstandings, when he believed that Gerald, a learned companion, had called him “a Communist” to his face.

Gerald had not, however. Had Douglas’s hearing improved, he would have discerned that Gerald had accused him of being “an Economist” — a more reasonable charge, especially as Douglas had just defended some imposition of the free market. The misunderstanding was then enhanced when the table agreed that “a Communist” and “an Economist” amounted to much the same thing. Both were in need of suppression.

We did not like table-clearing brawls at the Idler (the defunct pub, also of that name), and so were not phanatic in opposition to error. We were, however, opposed to enduring Douglas on a rant, and this was one of those occasions when gentle irony would prove inadequate. Further controversy arose when another of our drinkers began to sing the Internationale, mockingly, in French. One thing leads to another.

Jovan-Marya Weismiller (T.O.Carm.), who styles himself “the Old Curmudgeon,” reminded me of Gerald’s point in his blog, yesterday. This sage of South East Nebraska cited a report on the relentless growth of whisky production on the island of Islay, by Scotland. Islay now has not only Laphroaig and Lagavulin (both owned by giant liquor conglomerates), but some nine industrial distilleries, and there are applications to install a few more. But the island is small, and the poor, long-settled population, which once developed these splendid whiskies as an expression of their Caledonian genius, could be driven from their homes, as their ancestors were by the sheep clearances of the old days. And this, just so that the outer world may tipple, now that it has acquired the taste. Islay is being built over with dark satanic mills.

The former inhabitants may also be made immensely wealthy, with all the moral corruption that must follow from that. And worst, the peace of their beatific inner world will be sacrificed — torn up, no doubt by deafening mechanical processes, together with the rich, peaty soil.

It is an acute example of the way modernity supplants quality with quantity. It is a terrible, viciously insensitive, abuse of arithmetic. To “an Economist,” or course, the quality of Scotch whisky is actually preserved. For he will also quantize everything that is lost. (I continue to oppose the physicians of quanta!)

The Old Curmudgeon describes himself as “just your average reactionary, anti-communist, anti-socialist, anti-fascist, anti-capitalist, distributist, monarchist, integrist, Traditional Catholic.” He is thus among the few who can be trusted.