Essays in Idleness

DAVID WARREN

Oriental memoir

As some Siamese Bonze once told me: “I am very rich, in things I don’t need.” He seemed, indeed, to be surrounded by treasures.

This was in the capital of what is now called Thailand. The gentleman in question, enrobed in saffron cloth, and in possession of a brass begging bowl, offered the best conversation I can recall about Buddhism with a “native speaker.” That is, he was raised in an entirely Buddhist rural environment, schooled in a village monastery through his childhood, and had become fluent in English with a disturbing Oxbridge accent. This he had acquired I’m not sure how. I forgot, or forget. Were it forty years later, one might look him up on Facebook, I suppose.

Many people are more interested in themselves than in others, as intellectual engrossments go. Let me start with what he had to say about “me” — the Westerner. His monastery, or wat, was becoming something of a hippie hotel, owing to its custom of hospitality to travellers. While not a hippie, nor an habitual wat guest, I was at the time a bit of a traveller. I was curious to hear an educated Bonze’s view on all these hirsute, dope-smoking white juveniles. It was both sympathetic, and unfavourable.

He was sympathetic to what he thought often a sincere quest for “transcendence,” but one that had got off on the wrong foot. The spiritual resources of the West were formidable, he said. They should have started their journey there. While he welcomed an appreciation of Buddhism, they did not tend to have very much, and most of what they knew was not true, but Western-hippie bosh. They were more consumers than participants in religion — by instinct, aloof in quite the wrong way — and really, if they were more serious they might have researched monasteries on the continent they came from. Here they were just voyeurs, and (I am paraphrasing, as so often), too smug and conceited to be good voyeurs. By contrast, having met several, he put in a good word for Catholic priests.

We discussed Buddhist versus Christian monasticism. There are differences in belief that can’t be whimsically bridged, he said. But large parts of the two “monastic experiences” were fairly identical, including the line that is drawn between monastery and “outside.” One doesn’t cross that line wilfully. One does not come in to shop, as it were, for spiritual trinkets.

The young Buddhist who enters the monastery intentionally, for a few months before settling into a secular career, knows he isn’t shopping. This institution, found throughout Theravada Buddhist nations, could instead provide a brief training in “the discipline of compassion” — including what it is and isn’t.

It is not a “nice feeling.” It is a discipline to be acquired, and my Bonze echoed Newman in saying (as I later realized) it begins with the art of getting out of bed in the morning.

Other acquisitions follow, some of which may prove more difficult. Let us consider, for instance, the skill with which we started: detachment from Things. We, from the West, used to be good at this. (In past centuries.) We did not so much own things, beyond kitchen utensils, as hold them in consequence of our station in life, to be passed along in due course. Now we’ve forgotten how this works. Only superficially does this mean a life of poverty. Only superficially does one give away everything one owns — although the monk must do this, to show his commitment. At a much deeper level, one must cease to crave for possessions, including that craving for immaterial things: fame and suchlike. The task is rather to be free; to escape our bondage to transient things.

But God, Heaven, Hell; angels, devils, saints. … One of the most intriguing things I remember from Montri (the name of my Bonze acquaintance), was his casual use of such terms. “Westerners think Buddhists don’t have them, that we are some sort of atheists, but look at Buddhist art.” Buddhist attitudes towards them might be inexplicably different, but there they are.

I’ve neither seen nor heard of him for decades, yet Montri remains, for me, a Catholic inspiration.

Returned ballots

Once upon a time, in an obscure country called Canada, we had some admirable election laws. These have lapsed, unfortunately, but as an immediate “reform,” I think they should be restored.

My favourite was the “returned ballot.” An eligible voter, who looked at the list of Party candidates in his riding, and was inclined to spit, could express himself on election day. I used to do this myself, when younger, but found that the law had already gone into disuse.

One went to the queue at the polling station. (Often there’d be none.) The returning officer would look through his voter roll, find one’s name and address, and check these against one’s identification.

Pause. … This is still the procedure up here. We don’t fool around when checking voter ID, or counting physical ballots, unlike in some other countries. The ballots are directly marked on physical paper, then counted manually. They must also be counted continuously, before accredited witnesses, any one of whom may howl the moment he suspects a trick. There are no super-doper voting machines, such as we apparently sell to naïve or commie foreigners. In the absence of “high tech,” the counting happens fast. We have the result from most polling stations by local midnight, and often hours before. They are quite checkable (the ballots must be preserved), and a recount is automatic if the result across the riding is too close.

The ballots themselves are hard to confound: no “down-ballot” to contend with. We don’t elect judges and dog-catchers in Canada; only Members of Parliament, one at a time. This means that when we have an election dispute, it will almost certainly not be about the count. Rather it will be over fussy and trivial campaign spending laws. Bad results must therefore be attributed only to the stupidity of the voters. Alas, that can’t be fixed.

Back to the polling station, where the electoral officer is now passing me a ballot, with a hint on how to make an X on it. I am directed to a voting stall.

But I refuse to go there. Instead, I turn earnestly to the officer and say: “I am returning this ballot.”

Chances were, even decades ago, he would be thrown into confusion. So one would explain his job to him. He was supposed to have a book, entitled “Returned Ballots.” Into this he was supposed to transcribe one’s name and address. Getting into the book was one’s only way to avoid the secret ballot. But it was important to get in, to be recorded correctly, rather than as a “spoilt ballot,” as one is counted now if one’s ballot has no X.

After voting, I would check the result, and if not even one returned ballot had been recorded, I could doubt it was legitimate.

Now comes the good part. For returned ballots were supposed to be a separate category in the election tally. It was competing with all the other candidates. If it won a plurality — more returned ballots than the leading candidate — the election was to be formally thrown out, and a by-election called, in which none of the candidates for the thrown out one were allowed to run again. Too, voters could “theoretically” do this over and over, until at least one Party chose a candidate we could stomach.

In theory, this was an excellent way for voters to “drain the swamp,” directly, by eliminating the political sleaze in successive groups. In practice — aheu —  it was never used. The political sleaze nevertheless spotted the possibility, and had it taken off the books, at both Dominion and Provincial levels. What can I say? They are sleaze.

So the first thing we must do is campaign for the return of the returned ballot, up here; and for its institution in all the other Western nations. Then the second is to impartially, but massively, campaign for its use. It could be the greatest thing since the ancient Athenian ostracon.

Threatening democracy

“Democracy,” like any form of guvmint, is built upon agreement over certain foundational myths. The “will of the people” must be consulted. They collectively speak, in mass elections, according to the myths. “The voice of the people is the voice of God,” we might say: the opposite to what prevailed in more sober times, before the Enlightenment. And yet in my experience, most people do not know what they are talking about, on most topics, and on politics, foolishness is rife.

If 51 percent prefer one candidate — less if there are more candidates than two, or even with only two, after discounting spoilt ballots — the people have not spoken, any more than the coins have spoken, after you have flipped them a few million times. In reality, the tiny number who have really thought about it, are disenfranchised by the rest. If their vote shifted, it was between each and God. The reasons they give might be intelligent and salient, but the system works on one-man-one-vote. (Or did: we now dispute “man.”)

To my mind, most, if not all, elections are hung. The winners enjoy only a plurality over the losers. Even in a landslide, a third or more of the people likely voted for the losers. This is far short of a consensus.

The democratic idea can be preserved, only where the “principle” of mediocrity is sustainable. There must be general agreement to live with the winners, and good enough will for them to muddle through. Indifference is vital. Resentments must be kept within bounds.

Whoever wins, the result will be much the same. All parties offer the same sort of policies, dressed, perhaps, with a few decorative flourishes — likely to be quietly discarded, because of the expense. Life goes on, whoever wins. The division between Whig and Tory, Liberal and Conservative, Democrat and Republican, rebalances periodically, and the slogans, too, are casually exchanged. They sharpen only when tragedy is near. Tragedy itself can be seen as a sudden clarification in the usual sludge; comedy I recommend as less dangerous. There are moments when Democracy itself is threatened, because real principles have entered our swamp. Real principles are bad for Democracy.

People die one at a time, even when they are killed off simultaneously. It is at that level that differences are significant; where political partialities fall away. The votes of the dead are anyway not counted, except in the more corrupt jurisdictions. But the dead themselves are well out of any controversy that follows.

It is wrong to murder them, I think. This I would give, or would have given, as an example of consensus. (The matter became clouded by Roe v. Wade.) Our laws once rested on overwhelming consensus: thou shalt not kill, steal, bust marriages, worship strange gods, &c. These commandments were beyond “principle”; they were existential. Now, they can be overturned by vote. This was once imaginable only for petty and transient regulations; but the distinction between petty and serious has been lost.

We have “a threat to Democracy,” say the pundits. I don’t say that here, but only because I never believed in any of the democratic myths. At least, once I outgrew childhood.

Die Lösung

There is something to be said for genius. Perhaps I should leave the saying of it to someone else. But as I am the only writer in the High Doganate, I’ll have a go. Consider Bertolt Brecht.

My German, which peaked about 1968, and has since been in decline, remains nevertheless unable to conceal from me the sheer, stupid genius of that man. I added the qualifier — “stupid” — to clarify that genius isn’t always wise. It is a gift from God, that we are apt to mismanage. Indeed, I won’t name a person I am currently thinking about, who has what I would call a genius for stupidity. He goes about being stupid so ingeniously, he leaves me with respiratory issues.

And yet, there is truth in him. A less controversial example would be Auden, or even Stevens, or Pound, to start running through my “rolidex” of great modern poets, in English. In poems, but also in essays, they utter absurdities that are brilliantly true, unknowingly. Or so I am convinced. I’m not going to write that book, however.

Since the world is now festering in politics, I was going to stick with Brecht for my example, political to his dirty fingernails, poet more than playwright, and always poet in his plays. Master of the double-irony, he hits triples, too, without even trying. (I would flatter Neruda in the same way.) A diligent commie at heart, he writes mottoes that could be used by libertarians — but ironically, because he is redefining freedom. While doing so, he then sounds accidentally “Tory,” or “feudal” in the Continental manner. But then he advances to the baseball equivalent of a home run. He exposes the satanic intention at the heart of his own revolutionary creed — unintentionally, I surely think.

Take this quite famous excerpt from his poem, Die Lösung (“The Solution”), written apparently to regret the East German uprising in 1953. A Communist Party hack said that the people “had forfeited the confidence of the government.” (A Brechtian irony, but completely unintentional.) “They could only win it back with increased work quotas,” this hack suggested. Brecht observed:

“Would it not in that case be simpler, for the government to dissolve the people, and elect another?”

He tours the bases with this savagely misleading satirical stroke, thus ending at home plate where he began. What may have looked a fluke to some, was meant all along. He was never trying to hit easy singles, if I may strain my baseball analogy even further. He was always trying to change the rules of the game. This is exactly the strategy Communists will pursue, and similarly, all “progressives.” Their intention from the outset is not merely to “get elected,” like any normal political party, riddled as it will be with concessions to what the people seem to want. It is from the beginning to alter society — like devils, using any means available.

We lost sight of that as the Cold War “progressed,” beyond plain old-fashioned Stalinism. We began to accept ideologues as “just another option” — as they established and promoted new brands of secularism, feminism, environmentalism, “anti-racism,” &c. These things can’t be advanced by government policy, or will fail, unless the people themselves can be altered. A monopoly of legislative power goes without saying: that is always the prize in politics, Left or Right. But the progressive seeks a monopoly forever; what the Leninists, even before the Stalinists, called the novy sovetsky chelovek, the “New Soviet Man.”

Even to seize raw political power, they always meant to cheat. That’s why e.g. Nancy Pelosi began playing with new mail-in balloting arrangements, the moment she recovered the House speakership, long before she could seize on the Batflu for her excuse. (Curiously, Trump was among the few who saw what was coming. Brecht would have admired “his ability to think crudely.”)

This is why progressives focus on infiltrating cultural institutions, including of course the institutions for voting, rather than on, say, staging a military coup. For such coups are superficial. They change only the government, and that only for a time. Indeed, most generals are unimaginative people, who seize power in defence of some threatened status quo. The revolutionist wants to change that status quo. He wants to change what human beings are.

A pity, to my mind, that he is succeeding.

On endangered species

Ebony is a wood that is very strong, very hard, and very black. It grows most famously in Africa, very slowly. Count me among the many neurotics who have flinched when they heard the term, not for any of its qualities, but from being told ebony is an Endangered Species. (The Diospyrus genus, if you must know.)

Information becomes vague and unreliable, whenever politics draws near. Yet the assertion is plausible. This wood is expensive, and hard to come by, like elephant tusks. Adventurers are reported to risk their lives, smuggling ebony logs from the remaining forests of Madagascar. One African country after another gets cleaned out of it, according to the activists. It is possible the activists are right. (Sometimes.)

Madagascar’s ebony is one species. There is also Gaboon Ebony, Ceylon Ebony, Mun Ebony, Macassar Ebony, &c. As the names suggest, it is also found outside Africa, in species native to its various locations, throughout the tropical mapamonde. All grow slowly. There is Wenge, in exactly the places our ebony first came from in West Africa, though it is Something Else; there was Blackwood among the ancient Egyptians; there is “Peruvian Walnut.” These latter are from species unrelated to ebony, but look much the same, and will freak out your customs inspector just as nicely.

Price, alone, keeps consumption down, to small decorative uses. I have never built a log cabin of ebony, or anything like, and I speculate that no one else has, either. Verily, I haven’t built one even of pine, but don’t tell anyone. (People might doubt my patriotism.) In the cause of truth, I will admit that I have never attempted even to do a decorative ebony inlay, though I’m not opposed to others trying it. My woodworking skills would not suffice.

But I do own a small wooden Crucifix from Egypt, inlaid with nacre (mother-of-pearl). It is mounted on a kitchen cabinet, right in my face, when I am washing the dishes. How I came by it is a memorable story, so being an Idler, I will tell it right away.

A girl named Mariam was an accountant in an old, “colonial,” Cairo hotel, wherein I was camped. A Copt, who spoke Arabic but not a word of English, or rather three or four words only, she held the stopwatch while I transmitted my handwritten “copy” through the Windsor Hotel fax machine, to a newspaper back in the West. (This was once high tech.) She was calm, patiently precise and careful, as we dealt with the vagaries of Egypt’s telephone system. She was also very beautiful. It was when I attempted conversation I learnt that two of her English words were, “No speak.” My Arabic being worse than her English, we communicated by gestures and pointing.

Impressed by the small but magnificent Cross, always on her neck, I once pointed to that, and drew from her the most radiant smile; as if to say, “Yes, I am a Christian.” This made a psychic bond.

But a time came, after a month, when I was checking out of the hotel, and moving on to the next city. I was packed; a taxi was waiting to take me to an aeroplane. I stumbled down the stairs (which, in the Windsor Hotel, wrapped around a glorious cage elevator), to the office where Mariam worked. But she wasn’t there. I had wanted to say good-bye.

Down one last flight, to the tiny foyer on the ground floor, I imagined a patter of footsteps behind me. As I got to the taxi, and finished loading, Mariam herself stepped out of the shadows. She was clutching this inlaid Coptic Crucifix; slightly larger than the one she was wearing. As ever, she said nothing, but pressed this Cross into my hands. And then she ran away.

The wood, on which the nacre is inlaid, is a thin ply of black, like ebony.

Did you know? Ebony is an Endangered Species.

Black Friday obstination

Since getting canned from my teaching gigue; and to the Great Harvest, losing a couple of my more generous benefactors; I have thought I might be a little less shy, when begging for donations this year. As gentle readers of longstanding will know, Black Friday is the one day when I beg overtly. Though I will allow readers to fill my hat at any time of their choosing.

On the cost side, too, if one is anti-blogging, one needs to be prepared for the Cancel Culture. Because I stay simple and low-tech, and do not contend for a mass audience, I am not a priority for the demons. But I’ve noticed more than one of my fellows, using the same modest software, has been “invited to find another server” recently. And I’d thought that they were fairly low-priority, too. Should I suddenly disappear, I will endeavour to re-materialize elsewhere in hyperspace, with the same name and title.

No point in protesting, if or when that happens: for the Cancel Culturati do not listen to an argument. They are absolutely ruthless.

Still, the daily cost of my Idleposting operation is small, and actually dwarfed by my living expenses which, except for “big city” rent, are also very small. And let me say that, compared to the millions in the poorest countries, being further reduced to penury and starvation, from the manipulation of the Batflu “crisis” by our fat-country progressives, I am rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

The theft of the Natted States election has made a huge difference all over our wee planet. Not only are they celebrating in Tehran and Peking, but the Deep State class feels more secure everywhere. They are fitting themselves out with new designer jackboots, and not only the Little Sisters of the Poor will be feeling their shiny new cleats. Antifa and BLM are just psychotic schoolchildren: the real Enemy wears Prada.

Jeanne Jugan, who founded the Little Sisters nearly two centuries ago, to bring relief especially to the abandoned elderly, at first in France and Spain, was canonized a saint under Pope Benedict in 2009. Under his successor, your Peter’s Pence are going to make e.g. a film on Rocketman; to play the London real estate market; and to bribe criminals in Australia to bring false sex charges against the bishop who was trying to clean up Vatican finances. Perhaps I should mention that, as a backward and reactionary Catholic, I do not approve of these things.

Yet far be it from thought to suggest that gentle reader send his spare cash to me, instead. For I will continue writing whether he sends a donation, or not; whereas, my rivals might shut down if they were no longer paid.

Moreover, you may find not only Catholic orthodoxy, but a vastly richer field of sanity and genius, in the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, to say nothing of Dante and Shakespeare. By comparison, the Essays in Idleness are quite redundant. And since their author is still, inconveniently, alive, he alone is in need of ready money.

God bless you all, incidentally — richer or poorer, profligate or skint. And as ever, fear not. Things will, eventually, sort themselves out, or be sorted, by that “invisible hand” — who never restricted Himself to œconomics.

Dining out

It is Merican Thanksgiving. With any luck, no one will be reading me, today. (No one in Canada reads me, anyway.) I can say things that are irresponsible, for a change.

According to pollsters, two-in-five Mericans will be celebrating their holiday today, in gatherings of family and friends, just as if they were allowed to do so under the Merican Constitution. (Whose guarantees of freedom never mentioned public health.) Whereas, the other three-in-five will be making themselves as miserable as possible, in obedience to the Batflu authorities. Some will commit suicide, on purpose; others less intentionally with their opioids; but fewer in total than the population of, say, Appalachia. Most will observe social distancing to the end, even if they die without their medical muzzles on.

Pollsters have lately been making their numbers up, for focused political purposes, but still, I have no reason to question their 40/60 estimates. It does seem to me that, these days, 60 percent of Mericans are just like Canadians.

Traditionally, we didn’t kill ourselves so frequently up here. Partly, this was because we have a smaller population; and partly because we have socialized medicine, so our guvmint does it for us. You’d think we’d kill ourselves less frequently, owing to the distraction of trying to stay warm. But no, our death rates have been tracking Greenland’s. And Greenland tracks those of Scandihoovia and Fennoscumland.  Not enough Vitamin D.

*

Somehow I have wandered off my intended topic, which was outdoor dining. So let’s get back on-message.

Canada is not into outdoor dining. Too many polar bears. Well, they are into outdoor dining, but the humans only began to emulate them recently. Note that we never dine on them, or hardly ever, and would prefer that they not dine on us. Like good Canadians, we should negotiate. But it is hard to reason with a polar bear: a white supremacist if I ever saw one.

In our cities, if one can call them that, there are few polar bears, and those are usually arrested, and locked down in zoos. But Canadians never used to eat anything outside, except perhaps hot dogs. The idea of starting a café arrived from Europe, in 1963. That revolutionary Toronto courtyard was called “Lothian Mews.” It has since been demolished. One reached it through an alleyway, that made it easier to intercept polar bears.

My papa took me in there when I was a kid. It was the next best thing to leaving for Europe. I was introduced to “coffee.” In my advanced age, I would order schnitzel from the Coffee Mill — with coffee — after it relocated a few doors away. I would hang out with sophisticated friends, from Europe. That was where I used to jaw-jaw with my dear friend George Jonas, and discuss the imperfections of Canada, among other places. Since he died, I had not been in. Another reason was, it had closed, permanently.

The mistress of this joint was, like George, Hungarian. She was one Martha von Heczey. She died last year, as I just learnt, shedding a tear, for she was a magnificent woman. Her secret, in business and in life, was Never Change. Alas, now she has changed, into a dead person. Her husband, a magnificent man, walked his pet cheetah around the neighbourhood on a leash (look it up: I’m not lying). He died earlier. Circus-trained, I assumed he kept the cheetah against polar bears. But he was very tall, and large, and muscular; he could have fended for himself.

Now, fashion crazes work, for capitalism, and in the last half-century a lot of people began to eat on sidewalks. Not on the sidewalks themselves, I should explain, but on tables set along them. The Batflu Stasi are putting an end to this practice, lest any little businesses survive, but I daresay it would resume if they would go away. (Feeding them to hungry polar bears is a thought that has crossed my mind.)

Meanwhile, we must eat our schnitzels, or our turkeys for that matter, quietly inside and out of view.

Eve of whatever

“One of the marks of genuine growth in prayer is a deepening sense of confidence in God. Modern man is afflicted with anxiety, that is, with a sort of fear that has no definite object. Our attempts to pray and live a good life seem to make existence more complicated. Our efforts to respond to God often bring confusion and suffering, but they do gradually develop in us a heightened awareness of the reality of God, and of his care for us. This new sense of the presence of God is the best antidote for that formless fear and unease that we call anxiety.”

The quotation is taken, not quite randomly, from my “spiritual director,” the late Father Jonathan Robinson of the Oratory. He died just in time to miss the full Batflu farce, though not before expressing his contempt for it. His books I still have, and thus his voice from Saturday mornings, in the wee “conference room” where we met, is easy for me to reconstruct.

The book from which I quoted is, incidentally, On the Lord’s Appearing: An Essay on Prayer and Tradition (1997). He wrote a few others, each of which I recommend. He has the virtue of a reliably serious writer: each work seems to be his best, while one is reading it. Widely recognized as a contemporary Catholic authority, he had trouble getting the last couple of these books published, for Catholic authority had gone out of style, and the few surviving publishers had instead gone into “hip.” This is, I think, the first irretrievable step in betrayal. Regardless, one could rely on Father Robinson to be not hip.

But to his point, on an aspect of the Faith, founded in his broad and attentive reading of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church; in Philip Neri and John Henry Newman; and in his own life of responsibility and prayer. At its heart, his religion was “mystical”; but as that word is usually misused today, and badly misunderstood, he was carefully specific.

We are entering into the mysteries in the act of prayer. At first, often, they are taken to be some sort of shopping list. It is, “Lord, I want this and that,” until we grow, often by slow stages, into Lord I want nothing. It is the Christian, mystical paradox, that he who asks for nothing gets everything in return. But mind: this is only one way of putting it.

The season of Thanksgiving is formally for the harvest; for our family drawn together in its receipt. The old and the new, the work and its fruits in our leisure, may not be celebrated as a religious festival in all households. Yet this does not make it irreligious. It is part of antiquity: was the “pre-religion” into which each of us was born. The instinct to Thanksgiving was implanted in us, long before we could give it a name.

It is like our own name: something we couldn’t, and didn’t, give to ourselves. It is like everything important that identifies us, and goes to making us real: not a choice, but a given. “Given,” as in a gift.

We needn’t be anxious for what we already have.

Building back baffled

The reduction of Charity to Niceness has done wonders, to eviscerate the Church from within, and her cowardly response to e.g. the Batflu “crisis” has accelerated her retreat, from existence. I could laugh, though only malignantly, at the ruinously expensive reconstruction of parish churches in obedience to the last set of instructions from the Public Health Stasi. But now the faithful are told, by the nominally “conservative” guvmint in Ontario for instance, to close down the Mass entirely again — leaving the suckers only with the bills.

Yet there is some backwash. In the churches, as in the society at large, my sense is even Canadians have had nearly enough. My evidence is as ever anecdotal, and drawn almost entirely from the Internet under present Lockdown conditions, but I’ve noticed hints of rebellion here and there.

Those correspondents who feed me “database” observations (I have some good ones) find the reason for it. The authorities are ignoring even the information they have about the Batflu; such as church congregations are far less likely to spread infections than supermarket shoppers; or that muzzles and social distancing are counter-productive; or that massive testing and contact-tracing, tell them nothing useful. (The real questions are, who gets sick, how sick, and why. But the answers are often politically incorrect.)

The politicians’ house-pet epidemiologists are themselves transformed into sleazy politicians by the need to keep up appearances.

“But we have to do something!”

As one medical correspondent writes, her car may need oil. She will have to “do something.” But if what she does is to pour in corn syrup, her engine won’t work any better.

If there is one thing to know about a sleazy politician, it is that he cannot admit to a mistake; especially a catastrophic one. It is the one area where he will stand his ground. He must double down on what has been exhaustively proven not to work; he must pour in more corn syrup. He can’t afford not to, if he is to survive in politics, on which his personal wealth depends. It follows that he has a vested interest in a low-information society.

Or put this another way. “Common sense” is something with which all sane humans were naturally endowed, though most lose it. The absence of it voids the whole mind. But it does resurface, in the most unlikely places, like old socks. You don’t even have to be looking for them.

The replacement, in our public theology, of Charity with Niceness — part of the de-Christianizing process — has, for the moment, rendered Canadians febrile in the least creative way. But I do not think it is possible to survive a low-information diet for a prolonged period. Paradoxically, the “progressive” effort to coat all our surfaces with lies, blisters and cracks. At some point, people notice that they can’t breathe, and then you need a more aggressive dictatorship, to stop them breathing altogether. We’ll see how it goes.

Yankees can be a more feisty lot, even today. Consider a new administration under the Biden zombie. While the man himself may have trouble remembering his wife’s name, a flood of major appointments is now coming through his handlers. They seek to reanimate the Deep State, and quickly re-attach any tentacles that may have been severed by the Trump regime. In a country where almost half the electorate is convinced (correctly, I believe) that The Election was stolen, this is a promise of disaster.

The genuine popularity of “Trumpism” — not just the man but the swamp-draining tasks he (often inelegantly) promoted — bodes for the future. (Note I did not write, “bodes well.”) It suggests that a larger reckoning is coming than the one Americans have just been through. Having had a taste of the benefits that the Deep State had been denying, we might expect their next backwash to be Trumpism squared.

But Niceness and Charity are not communicating jugs. Such genuine Charity as our old, vaguely Christian society supported, will need to be regrown, as the Niceness jug empties onto the ground. The “progressive” campaign was to damage or, if possible, eliminate what was left of the Church. It doesn’t refill on its own, however, once they have smashed the vessel.

Our re-Christianization, or return to civilization — if that happens — will depend not on a vacated Niceness, but on something more muscular: namely, the Divine. Nor will it occur within any discrete electoral cycle. I would expect it to be, eventually, as continuous as our descent into barbarism has been.

But slower.

Chronicles of hyperventilation

No one gets much bothered if you express disbelief in God, or attempt to blaspheme Jesus. No one, at least up here in the Frigid North, minds if you advocate for abortion, or killing off granny. (It is called “euthanasia.”) But hooo, God have mercy on you — or the Cancel Culture, if He won’t — should you stop worshipping the Batflu. For even to the Commies, some things are holy, after all. (A woman’s right to have her “pre-born” child butchered, for instance; or the little boy’s right, under peer pressure, to be surgically altered into a poor resemblance of … whatever he imagines.)

My latest reminder was during a rare encounter with another human, under our latest Lockdown protocols. We met — involuntarily on both sides, I am sure — in an elevator. It was a rare moment, too, when I was wearing a Batflu Muzzle; in order to avoid eviction from the High Doganate. My error was to say something light, but not entirely respectful, towards the Red Chinese Virus. Not lethally obstreperous, mind. It was on a level with criticism of the weather, which is still permitted in Toronto, about eight months of the year.

My elevator companion went, … I believe “apeshit” is the apt descriptive term. How dare I take the foremost medical crisis in the history of the universe as a joking matter? Was I unaware of “the science” behind him? (It’s quite a smell.)

Happily for me, there are only so many floors in my building, so his attempt at a comprehensive update was overcome by finitude.

I have, truth to tell, given up trying to respond helpfully to psychotic persons. I just pray that the elevator will reach my floor, before they get violent.

My second encounter of the day was much milder. (It is almost noon.) This was while I was trying to put the garbage out, having forgotten my muzzle. I was politely told of my omission, and quickly apprised of my fellow-tenant’s views on the seriousness of the situation. Sensing his own overkill, he added, more whimsically, “That’s my opinion, and I’m always right.”

“Well, I have the opposite opinion, and I’m always wrong.”

If YouBoob hasn’t taken it down yet, I think Dr Roger Hodkinson did a good job of expressing my opinion, in five minutes or less, to an electronic confab in Edmonton or somewhere. (See here.) While he is far better qualified to have an opinion, than anyone who is an authority in the meejah, I notice the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada is now trying to disown him. They don’t have a reason, but no one advancing the Batflu hysteria ever does.

“Believe, brother, believe!” … Or they will deal with you.

A threesome

A young friend, who must work for a living, was caught out of town on a job, attending to someone’s “emergency”; when he received an important, if garbled, message. It was about his wife. She — coincidentally, also young — was in hospital. He decided that he must go to her, right away. His customer, whose emergency was only in her head, could wait.

Now, if one doesn’t own a car, it is nearly impossible to get around Ontario. Merely getting to his work assignment, not that far out of Toronto, had been a nightmare. No bus. Once there, he was stranded. I won’t go into this, however. It might make me angry.

Luckily for my friend, he had another friend, too, who was unafraid of our roving Batflu gestapo. He was picked up in an hour, and driven right downtown, to the hospital’s very door. After passing through multiple layers of front-desk bureaucracy, he was finally able to learn what had happened to his wife, and as a bonus, what room she was in. (Sharp eyes, that young man.) Uninterested in getting permission to visit, he walked off.

Someone seemed to be calling him back, but he couldn’t hear, because the elevator door was closing.

It was as he had suspected. The baby had arrived, a little early; their first. His wife was holding him in her arms as he broke into the maternity suite. And she had the most serene, the most beatific smile, as she raised one arm to greet him, and invite him to draw near. Then kissed him, and pulled him nearer, into this tight little triangle: man, woman, child.

And what she said he will not forget, should he live to be one hundred. They were just two words, that could excite any grammarian. They were:

“We three.”

I emphasized the youth of this couple — twenty, and nineteen, respectively, I think — for a reason. Also I will mention that they were properly married, even before the child was conceived. I only learnt of them, thanks to this Idleblog; apparently, some young Catholics know how to read. (Home-schooled, of course.) And there may be others.

The world, as gentle reader may have noticed, is going to hell.

But not all of it is going.

Death of an atheist

My mama turns one hundred today. She would miss the celebration, as her descendants will miss it, owing to the latest Batflu lockdown; but then, she also missed the last seven. This is because she died in 2013. It is one of the inconveniences of the human condition, viewed strictly from a worldly point of view; but being a worldling myself, I often regret it.

I have no idea, I can have no idea, where she is now. I pray that it is in a better place, notwithstanding her sometimes fiery atheism. This held up through the years of painful illness: a stoicism that sometimes broke down in tears, or toyed with sentimentality, but never forgot the quarrel she had with God.

As a young apprentice nurse, raised as an over-literalist Protestant, she had prayed earnestly, desperately, for a sweet little boy. He was tortured by a hideous, and then untreatable, spinal disease, where she was in training at Halifax. In the end he died, and mama was outraged. She’d prayed and prayed and prayed, and then this happened. She felt conned. She was going to get even with God, by never praying to Him again. She would deny that He existed. That would show Him.

A choirgirl, too, with a magnificent mezzo-soprano voice, she got through bouts of horror (“old age is not for cissies”), by singing hymns from childhood, in her geriatric cell; and repeating the Lord’s Prayer. This is because, although a stubborn “Scotch” atheist, she did actually believe in God, as I would sometimes force her to admit. It was just that she was really mad at Him.

A young priest, whom I stuck on her, spent hours — many hours, sometimes in the middle of the night — not trying to convert her, exactly, but praying over her as she had prayed over the broken-spine boy. Until nearly the end, she had the power to send him away, but never did; even though he was Catholic (a serious error, where my mama came from).

But if you are the loving God, you can handle people being angry with you. Or so I have reasoned. You look around them, as well as through, and find any goodness they were trying to hide. And mama had much, that was hard to hide: although she could be secretive about it.

Moreover, You, if you are God, spot the little things that humans often miss, in their hurry, such as sincerity and candour. For unbridled sincerity and candour can sometimes resemble faith, to the point of being it. You see where, as the result of poor theological instruction, the “impenitent” has slipped off the rails. Yet, contrary to human-all-too-human superstition, You aren’t actually out to get them.

Hell is very real, and why people insist on going there is hard to understand. But Purgatory, in my own reckless speculation, is very large. It might not be easy to save some people, from any human or even churchly point of view, but I wouldn’t underestimate God’s ability to beat the odds and obstacles.

Meanwhile, from my privileged position, I remember a mother who was eminently worth saving. I could tell many anecdotes to confirm this, but these belong to receding time and place. We are beyond that now, and the extraordinary virtues that were manifest in this world, must now be seen in light of the immortal. They were as real as she was. And reality itself has the virtue, that, it cannot be deleted.

Locked & loaded

[Fearing this Idlepost was too mild, I added a few sentences to jag it up a bit.]

*

It would be unfair, as well as disrespectful, to describe political parties like the Democrats in the Natted States, or the Liberals up here in our Fair Dominion, as coalitions of the mentally ill with the mentally retarded, under the management of ruthless criminals. And gentle reader should know, that I am never unfair.

Notwithstanding, I am increasingly annoyed, to see what both of these triumphalist parties take for granted, as they look forward to the future they will impose on the rest of us. The trillions they will vomit, into soi-disant “climate change,” and soi-disant “equity,” and perpetual soi-disant public health “crises,” are a discouragement to the sane. That each bundle of their crackhead schemes is not merely useless, but counter-productive to their stated goals, is a point I have often made in passing.

These parties depend entirely on the urban vote; inflated by corruption. As we saw once again in The Election to the south, they are trounced elsewhere. As evidence, the Democrats felt so protective of the zombie vote, that they even ran a zombie as their presidential candidate.

Each “issue” is not based only on a fraud, but something much darker. For each was advanced as the groundwork for tyranny, from the start. Moreover, each is no longer “talking points” for some deranged, radical clique, but all have spread through urban society as a cancer. None of their premisses may be challenged, no matter how obviously ludicrous; for the advocates cling to them as to religious dogmas. (Leaving us with only our guns and our Bibles.)

Tomorrow, my part of Ontario (most of it) goes back under “lockdown.” This is because the previous lockdowns had no effect at all. We can already know that this one won’t work, either, although it will spread poverty and ruin through millions of lives; while creating new sinkholes for public money.

The more serious victims are, overwhelmingly, not Democrat or Liberal voters. They are those who are by nature independent, keep small shops, take risks on their own savings. These are the “family types” being squeezed and trampled and put out of business by Big Bureaucracy and Big Tech. The “progressive” types, employed by large organizations, can work from their designer homes, and order in their ice cream, because they continue to be well paid, for jobs that are truly inessential. That’s why, politically, the lockdowns “work”: for they are aimed at people these inessentials sneer at; whom they call “deplorables,” “racists,” and “chumps”; those within and without the cities, who harvest and distribute the resources, and provide the myriad services, that make urban life physically possible — come rain, shine, or Batflu.

Far be it from me to suggest that they should abandon the cities, and stop deliveries to the urban cores. And yet, innumerable environmental problems could be solved thereby — from excess consumption, to excess leftwing voters — by the simple expedient of cutting the cities off.