Essays in Idleness



As a Christian, I have been assured of immortality; though in view of the Devil (whom I’ve been trying to ignore), immortality might not be the happiest thing. Still, it tends to reduce birthdays to their finite context. This morning I woke to realize that seventy finite solar years had now passed, since the 29th of April, 1953. My birth happened, so mother told me, in the middle of the night, depriving her of sleep. So my own insomnolence appears to follow on trend.

The morning woke incident seemed the perfect conclusion to a mostly sleepless night. As gentle reader may know, I am entirely opposed to woke and wokism in any form, and would prefer to sleep in. It “triggered,” while I was lying in bed, a calculation of the lunations since my birth. I finally settled upon 864; a number that divides by two, three, four, six, eight, and nine, to produce in turn highly divisible numbers. The Moon is Waxing Gibbous, so I suppose I should acknowledge a small fraction at the end, of just over a week. (The Moon is in Virgo. I remain perpetually in Taurus.)

I think here of the Gibbous Monkey that the neighbours kept (young German bachelors), when I was but a child, much less advanced in moons. This was in Bangkok, and their names were Arminius and Gunther. The monkey, cleverly denominated “Tar-saan,” was of course a master of brachiation, and could fly from tree to tree at incredible speeds, if he ever escaped his quarters. He could anyway leap about the longest room, without touching anything in transit, and was no more likely to collide with any object than a bat. But he protested his imprisonment, by walking upright in mockery of his human slave-masters, using his long arms for balance; and stealing shiny and valuable things, which he would irretrievably hide in the rafters.

Tar-saan could be amusing, but he could also bite, savagely. He was much too intelligent to make an agreeable pet.

Uniparty news

Mr Tucker Carlson, a gentleman who has been more successful in the media than I have been, was told some ten minutes before the release of the press announcement that he had “agreed” to part ways with the Fox News Corporation. But what if he’d said no?

Well, gentle reader may not understand public relations, and why it usually fails.

As the broadcasting company is incorporated in Delaware, I have long suspected it is a front for the Biden presidency; rather like President Biden himself. He won because his opponent, Mr Trump, who received an extraordinary seventy-four million votes, inspired eighty-one million to vote against him (often legally). In a similar way, despite its immense market share, Fox has a bigger anti-market. There are even more people who would rather eat insects than tune it in.

Mr Carlson had three years to run on his contract, which was for twenty million dollars per year. Let me assume he will be paid off the balance. In that situation, I would need all the time to count the money. Too, I would go into hiding from the Internal Revenue “Service.” Perhaps in lakeside Bolivia?

This “earthquake,” or so Mr Carlson’s firing has been described by all media observers willing to utter his name, will make, on balance, approximately no difference in American public life. It will be roughly like the Soviet invasion of Hungary. The millions who knew perfectly well that Communism is satanically evil, will be confirmed in their views. A larger number will persist in their invincible ignorance.

Two into two

“Transgender” people are obnoxiously binary. Or so it seems to me. The males become females after hormones and surgery; the females become males. Except, rather than being what they were born with, beginning with sex parts (but continuing through every cell in their bodies), they become a likeness of the other sex, often a not-very-likeness. But they do not have the option of becoming even a likeness of some third sex, for there is no such thing to serve as a model in nature. What they claim they have had to make up.

Every advanced adult who is Anglophonic, even on weekends, was probably exposed to Dame Edna. This, and a variety of comic and sub-comic acts have been with us for generations. When I lived in England (or was it Australia? I forget which), I was amazed by two phenomena that I would not count as sexual perversions; first, men dressing as women, to be entertaining down at the pub; and second, men desperately attracted to women who were absurdly fat, also at the pub. I found it possible not to form a moral judgement, in cases like this, though I had a French girlfriend at the time, who made much cruel mockery of English masculinity (later, on the way home).

But men dressed as women were, after all, a feature of the Elizabethan and Jacobean stage, where actresses were not hired. The use of masks made this more practical in the Noh drama of ancient Japan. With time, however, from both these ends of the world, and many others east and west of them, women were able to break into the quaint traditions of dramaturgy that excluded them, and did a fine job of playing themselves.

Moreover, there is seldom a first time for anything. Women made the cast in mediaeval entertainments, and sometimes wrote them, too, in defiance of later feminist theory. However, they had been banned in classical Greece and Rome. The idea that an actress must be a Hetaira took Christianity to overcome. It is a surprisingly universal pre-Christian notion.

We could go into this, at length, but it would lead us away from transgender issues. Unless that is their purpose, to delete women’s rights. I would not discount the aesthetic accomplishments of cross-dressing, however. It is, in some degree, in the nature of art, that makes no place for pedestrian plausibility.

But I have yet to be convinced that transgender performances are high art; and I would judge the efforts at low art to be failures. Some higher purpose must be conceived, to make a performance “ring.” When it is omitted, even in Drag Queen Story Hour, we are left unsatisfied, and our children are not entertained.

Pay cuts

We learn from statistics (a magical formula) that the average American has taken a pay cut in each of the months since Mr Biden became president. It hasn’t been published, but I would guess that the same is true of Canada in each of the months since Mr Trudeau came to power.

European trends may be similar, and the European excuse is like ours: the world is awashed by inflation (and the public spending that is inflation’s cause). It does not reach the percentages that were achieved in the Weimar Republic (where one Papiermark became a tiny fraction of a pfennig), and probably won’t because in the cashless, digital economies of the future, the government will be able to push computer buttons, that will delete the currency holdings of everyone it doesn’t like, as was done experimentally with the cooperation of private banks in Canada last year. This is a wonderful, instantaneous way to restore a hard currency.

But there is no national politician who can match our little Justin for arrogance and stupidity, so I imagine this will take a few more years.

Is this, or will it be, a good thing?

I take for granted that it will happen, as I would take for granted that any aeroplane I was riding, with its nose pointed unambiguously to the ground, will soon become a recycling burden. But there is always the chance that we are in the power of a stunt pilot, who will pull out of the dive just in time. (And always the chance that he can’t.)

But objectively — taking a position that omits consideration of my own interest — it will probably be a good thing, at least in the economy. (I don’t think an aeroplane crash would be good for anybody.) This is because we are all overpaid, even those on welfare in Europe and America, and having less income will make us more frugal. In particular, the rising cost of goods and falling price of labour may encourage craftsmanship.

There is a similar view to be taken of the various leftwing environmental acts, such as those to prevent “climate change” (which of course is a chimera). The hideous expenditure, amounting quite literally to trillions, is entirely wasted, and makes the environment uglier and unsafer. But by simply depriving the masses of a larger and larger part of their earnings, frugality must emerge. Moreover, by destroying the industrial fabric everywhere outside Red China, it achieves something to which the Luddites always aspired.

And hey, I’m a Luddite. Who says that Luddites don’t have any fun?

Duodecimal aside

Perhaps I have abused this term, Duodecimal, by using it out of the context of base twelve. This would be a shame. Since math class in childhood, I have adored base twelve, and have always recommended it — often even in preference to base sixteen. For if God hadn’t meant us to count in twelves, why did He endow us with eight fingers, two thumbs, and two feet?

Alternatively, in light of our further two ears, I could recommend the tetradecimal system — anything to sabotage our glib, metric-friendly, decimal arrangements.  An octal numeral system would be glib enough, doubling when expansive into hexadecimals (not to be confused with fine Babylonian sexadecimals). But I long for thirds as well as musical fourths. If we cannot partition the world neatly into threes, what can we partition it into? Fifths, or tenths, will not do, and I have never considered a frequency ratio of 3:2 (“Twinkle, twinkle, little star”) to be quite perfect, whatever the musicians say.

Binary can also be Godly. Think of the number of sexes. There are precisely two.

All of this is irrelevant to my current argument, however. It is about the prevalence of twelve-year-olds in the management of the BBC, and apparently, all other institutions. I am beginning to notice this, almost obsessively: that every modern, publicly educated human with progressive views has abandoned his spiritual growth, by age twelve (at the latest). He does not accumulate wisdom after that, and often he has already “terminated” at six, four, or three.

I don’t mean this literally, of course. So far as I’m aware, most of the younger sort of humans still pass through puberty, and then, all the later stages of physical maturity and decline. Indeed, judging from the present popularity of “sex changing,” and the universal addiction to recreational drugs, puberty is the terminal point.

I’ve been testing this theory in my walks about my native Parkdale (which the bureaucrats propose to rename “Taiaiako’n,” to confirm that it really belongs to the bureaucrats who administer indigenous people). Twelve years old would seem to be the emotional maximum.

Morning light

Materialism, a wise Dominican once wrote (it was Walter Farrell, O.P., of River Forest, Illinois) invites a man to let himself go, to pieces. I would add that he will let go, in time, even of materialism, for it offers a kind of sticky, annoying discipline. It is the road forward, as this Dominican explained, while introducing John of St Thomas, the 17th century Portuguese philosopher; sanity and sanctity are the road back.

That is how we should test our political opinions. If they are practical, and can be realized, they are on the road forward, and on “the right side of history” as it were. But we should be looking for the other way. An initial test is that one’s views should be whimsical and useless. They should, with courage, frankly acknowledge a cul-de-sac. (The medical effects of my stroke, two years ago, are my principal advantage, in better equipping me for this journey backward.)

Newman said, that is the way to Heaven. “There is,” according to the sainted Cardinal, “a very much closer connexion between the state of Adam in Paradise and our state in childhood.” Nostalgia for the deeper past has a spiritual, not material, significance, and is the source of our (motionless) growth. In time we must anyway return, to seedlings.

Of course, the journey back should not be arrested, at the age of twelve, as I was hinting last week. For that would be like moving forward, with all the ignorant enthusiasm of youth. Rather, as Margaret Avison suggested, we should aspire to be like the delphineal poplar: trembling with morning light.


Among my instructions to my contemporaries, back in the ‘sixties, was to, “Grow up!” Gentle reader will observe that I had yet to follow this instruction, myself, and that my contemporaries were under the same chronological impairment. Now that I look back in time, I recall many of the sports and frolics of childhood that I enjoyed while ignoring my own diktat. Yet also I recall my irritation at the disobedience of friends. They would act strictly according with age, and without embarrassment.

Mr Ed West, a wise Substack pundit to whom I have become accustomed since a kind reader created a subscription for me, writes this morning about Teen Vogue. He does not mean this literally, however, for he is making a comparison to the website of the British Broadcasting Corporation, in its present state.

He deduces, reasonably from the evidence, that the website is under the control of twelve-year-olds.

Often, I mutter sotto voce, “Grow up!” to the media that is impinging on my consciousness, today. In my later youth, or early manhood, I myself became entrapped in the gearwork of the media, and realized while being processed through its toothed wheels that nothing really changes. It’s all a machine. (A machine is the actual device which assures that all products will be identical; that nothing will ever change.) But the media types of the nineteen seventies did at least pretend to be adults. This pretence would evaporate, however, in exciting situations. In the course of media evolution, or more precisely degeneration, “tabloid” journalism spread everywhere.

If the exponents of capitalism would make candid arguments, they might note the universality of this phenomenon. A “trend” in the marketplace sinks all boats and, contrary to the naïve argument of the economists, a quality product does not survive as a minority, even of one. The same rule applies to media as to the manufacture and sale of toothbrushes, which must all now be designed to include Disney cartoons, and have supersonic shapes. The people who design them are, presumably, twelve years old.

Fortunately, my old boar-bristle toothbrush was made in the days before injection moulding; and the BBC is possible to ignore, along with all the newspapers, even the once commendable Neue Zürcher Zeitung (now remodelled to be fashionably cool).

“Food, fuel, fodder,” will be needed, to which an Aberdeenshire hippie has added, “fibre, and farmaceuticals.” (He calls these the “Five Effs.”) The quality of each should be self-correcting, when our monocultures are all ground into forest farms and fishponds, in the economy of tomorrow. For there were always better things to do with a coppice than to make it into “news”; and electronic pixels shouldn’t be wasted, either.

For, who needs all these childish machines?

Revulsion against chivalry

Jonathan Swift is the least lascivious writer in the English language. (I make such statements after the slightest review of my critical knowledge.) His Journal to Stella, written under the highest condition of intimacy to a woman, should be an inspiration to post-Puritans everywhere. Or to candidates for the priesthood.

I say “post” because in its very shrivelling and shrinking from eros, Puritanism exhibits a lascivious tendency. Old-fashioned, prudish women knew exactly what they were shrinking from, and it was an explosive temptation; and the prudish men were like the old women. Whereas the Dean Swift, and to some extent I assume the Miss Esther Johnson (the behovely “Stella”), could descend into the scatalogical without the least transit of the lubricious realm.

The other side of Swift is frequently forgotten; his unromantic “compassion.” He was perhaps the most generous patron of his Yahoo contemporaries in Ireland, that they had ever seen out of England. He would moreover mix, with these quite unrespectable people, just where they would expect to be found; and he was noticed by them. After his death, the poor of Dublin proposed erecting a statue to Swift, to replace the idol to Marlborough. (Ah, when Ireland was Christian!)

But it was the living Swift’s freedom from “sexuality” that puzzled me upon my first Maundy Thursday as a (conscious) Christian. I was young then, and in the fit of adolescent hetero-sexuality. The Gospels struck me as so wonderfully dry. Christ himself reached, through His Crucifixion, beyond the frame of human explanation, however extravagant. I knew from His words that, “When the dead rise again, there is no marrying or giving in marriage; they are as the angels in heaven are.”

It was a post-Puritan dogma, that He spake.  It separated that teaching from what had always accompanied the promise of paradise, before and after the Christian revelation. There would be no seventy-two virgins waiting.

Heaven, and Hell, are neither of them glib. It is in the approach to Good Friday, after the slow preparation of Lent, that we may begin to grasp this.

A business opportunity

After nearly seventy years of seeking my fortune, or as I’ve come to realize, my “Fortunella,” I thought I had alighted in a field of Cumquats — under the roof of a supermarket yesterday. For these I have been seasonally seeking ever since I learnt to spell the word (though half the world insists on writing it with a “K”). For some reason, which I decline to recall, I identify these tart little miniature oranges (which are not Citrus at all, for they belong to the genus Fortunella) with the celebration of Easter; I would now be prepared.

Imagine my horror when, at the cash counter, I realized that I had purchased a box of Peruvian “Golden Berries,” sometimes called Cape Gooseberries, or Picchu Berries, or Aguaymanto, or Topotopo. They are not the same thing as Cumquats, and yet I, in my timorous foolishness, resolved to take them home, rather than make an unedifying scene.

“All that glisters is not Cumquats,” as Shakespeare might have said in the circumstance. Imagine shipping these sticky wee orange baubles the vast distance from Peru, to our northern wastes, for the express purpose of defrauding Cumquat purchasers. Unless, of course, no deception was intended. But I found these Golden Berries unnecessarily sweet, in a glib way, lacking in character.

I want Cumquats, as I might want Gold and Silver, much more than Dollars. This preference has become the more acute with the impending destruction of the U.S. currency. Communists, Arabs, and Brazilians have now conspired to denominate the world’s commodity trading in Chinese Yuan, depriving the Dollar of its almightiness. Worse, the bureaucrats in control of the North American economy have made their move to cancel it completely.

They are introducing a digital currency to replace physical money. The advantages, to our rulers, is that they may record and tax every economic transaction, no matter how small and how none-of-their-business. They will be able to eliminate savings and close bank accounts the way Justin and Crystia did during the truckers’ demonstration in Ottawa last year, but in the routine manner of the “social credit” schemes in Red China. We all become slaves, or “Cyber Uighers,” by this arrangement.

It is happening as I write, and is no exaggeration. It is awful, but it puts me in mind of a business opportunity.

An enterprising person, or persons, with access to wondrous amounts of gold and silver, should launch a private hard currency, or currencies, in response. He could open unofficial mints, in out of the way places, and stamp out coins of unquestionable value. These would probably be illegal, and would become certainly illegal once our governors found out, but hey. These coins would enable us to have a (tax-free!) informal economy, in the interstices of the official one, and thus survive imaginary global warming, and the other “crises” that are manufactured by the elect.

With time we could also organize an informal army, to be paid in cash, modelled perhaps on the Mafia. Weapons also, although proscribed by the politicians, would be freely available on the same terms.

The plan would be to shoot anyone who gets in our way.