Essays in Idleness


Christmas advice

My general advice, to those who seek it at Christmas (around here), is to master benignity. I, for one, will not destructively criticize those I believe to be benign. Perhaps I could try to be benign myself, through the time left to me on this Earth, by not offering to “name and shame” the many who are not. But I find this task exhausting.

It is a Canadian tradition, to advise people to remain warm, or to try to become warm, given our unsympathetic winter environment. As few of us seem to have empathetic landlords, either, it is a purely adventitious wish, like “climate change.” I mentioned being cold to one of my dearest friends, in email this morning. He replied that he is both cold and bald. This may have raised the temperature by a fraction of a toque, or one degree on the white man’s thermometer. If it has, we are on a roll.

We have other faults, my friend and I, chiefly medical.

As you probably know, the chief cause of death in the modern world is “instruction from a doctor.” He will either tell you to die, directly, or recommend some exercise or pharmaceuticals that will kill you. Or he will practice “open-heart operations,” and other ruthless surgical “procedures” — counting on patients to be nearly comatose, & thus unable to resist.

Well, both of us have been living dangerously. I believe we both took instructions from doctors, more than once in the past year. Paul (to give him a name) was told to perish repeatedly. That he is still alive, 359 days later, is a reason to thank God (who doesn’t obey the doctors).

It is now Christmas, I declare. A very merry Christmas to my several other readers!


Local news is no longer available for Toronto, now that the Liberal Party has bought the “legacy” media with our tax money, and must, we presume, give permission for reporting. We get only happy-face news, except from sources abroad. Or perhaps I am exaggerating, from the fact that the two most sensational local news items reached me (a resident in Toronto) through informants reading the New-York Post, and the London Daily Mail, respectively. Indeed, now that the events have become common knowledge, even in Toronto, there is some discreet reporting in local rags.

There was the killing of six at a “condo” meeting in the suburbs — the sort of thing one must expect given contemporary housing arrangements. And then there was a “homeless” man, beaten and knifed to death by a gang of eight girls, mostly thirteen and fourteen years of age. He had refused to surrender the bottle of liquor he was nursing against the overnight cold.

According to police, all eight of these girls, who had met on “social media,” were easily arrested near the scene of the crime. For Canada has very accommodating laws for under-aged criminals, and none need to fear any serious punishment. I learnt this myself when I had a few thousand dollars stolen from my flat, several years ago, by an intruder I could easily identify. The thief would be forgiven for a “first offence,” as he had been on all his previous first offences. Also, it was just a “property crime,” for which our courts are habitually lenient. The same apparently applies to murders — though I’ve just found out.

This is the new, progressive, post-Christian city, in which a plurality of my fellow citizens actually vote for the Liberals, whom they consider to be the moderate party, rather than for the Conservatives, who sometimes make incomprehensible distinctions between right and wrong. It will end in tears, I suppose, and the occasional old-fashioned gunshot, but mostly knifings.

The news & the weather

“A mix of sun and clouds,” I was told this morning, when I consulted the weather channel. A little bit of rain or snow, if the skies should precipitate at all. Temperatures will accord with the season. The sun will, likewise, rise and set at the accustomed hours; ditto the moon. The planets, and the stars, are in the positions predicted by the astronomical almanac, and all is (hard-) right with the world. They may, however, have moved, slightly, over the next million years.

I used to keep the weather records for Georgetown, Ontario when I was a schoolboy (on behalf of an older and more experienced schoolboy, who had gone off to college); so perhaps my habit of looking at the weather can be explained. As well, my sceptical view of predictions, should they extend for a week into the future.

Were we to keep a printout of the daily averages for the past century or so, and consult it each morning, we could beat the official forecast, perhaps six times in ten. What the weather will be like in the next hundred years is, however, beyond our faculties for prognostication. The most junior weatherman should know that.

There has been nothing to add on the “global warming” fraud since this blog began. Indeed, I began noticing it was a fraud, as a paid hack journalist, years before. Persons who identify atmospheric carbon and nitrogen fertilizers as pollutants, when they are beneficial to such things as plants and animals, have tested our patience through the years. At their unreasonable demand, some billions upon billions of dollars of economic wastage and mindless neuroticism has been paid out. (The Batflu “pandemic” is another aspect of this collective madness, which is the ceaseless contrivance of our progressive politicians.)

Unfortunately, hysterias cannot be defeated by argument. Pain alone seems to work, and then, only a gradual restoration of sanity can be expected: not the quick changes that we see in the weather, or in the annals of genuine scientific discovery. But it is well to free the mind from hysterias, if one has a mind that desires to be free.

Vitai lampada

To my mind (as ever), the soccer victories of Moroccan Islam over Spain and Portugal, were balanced by the English win on the cricket field of Multan, Pakistan (clinching their test series). One should observe these sporting events with reserve, as I was taught to do as a child (in Pakistan). We win on some occasions; we lose on most of the others; or in cricket, it is often a draw. In the past, along with cucumber sandwiches, one greeted the marvellous stroke (of friend or foe, equally) with gentle and not too prolonged applause.

Demonstrations afterward were, unquestionably, barbaric.

Among the younger souls, participating in the match, the object was to “play up, play up, and play the game.” This was an irreducible aspect of joy, perhaps hard to explain to a modern. The phrase presented the view of Sir Henry Newbolt that (so far as I could make out) wars should be fought in the spirit of the cricket pitch — rather than sport conducted in the spirit of war.

Oh yes, and there was terrible carnage and gore, death and frightful disharmonies — but we must not let this take our mind off the game.

This stirring poet and government advisor (died 1938), working from a line out of Lucretius (celebrating “the torch of life”), wrote various further lines that my Canadian mother was able to recite, while riding a tonga in Lahore. An Anglo-Indian lady, riding in another tonga in the opposite direction, once answered her, apparently with a quip from the same poet. My memory can no longer supply what it was, however; for this happened in ancient times. (I think it was 1959.)

The Muslims are perhaps recalling the year 711 AD, as they triumphantly cavort through the immigrant slums of Europe. This too passed anciently, even before the invention of cricket.

Taking sides

From whom should the citizen take advice? From someone who wants him dead, or from someone who thinks he is endowed with everlasting life?

This is the primary political choice for the modern, emancipated, democratic woman (or man, or trans person), expressed with my winning simplicity. The first team consists of pagan environmentalists, the second of Christians and other subscribers to the philosophia perennis.

Note that the position of God, which we assign in this latter, is favourable to us. But He cannot be favourable to the modern heathen, who believes He is dead, or never existed. (There are also various semi-religious godless, who subscribe to the muddy grey, avoiding both black and white by neurosis. I think the word for them is, “agnostics.” I would perhaps take them aboard my yacht, were they drowning in her vicinity.)

But returning to my initial question, would you rather trust someone whose ideal is to kill you; or instead, someone who is characteristically pro-life?

This is a puzzle I have been dealing with for more than half a century, since an aspiring hack journalist or whatever. For I’ve been “pro-life” actually longer than I’ve been Christian. Indeed, I called myself an “atheist” when I spoke up for Humanae Vitae, in a 1968 high school debate, which made me as unpopular then among the Pepsi generation as it would now.

Paul R. Erlich has been around all this time, and since publishing his book, The Population Bomb (in 1968), he has been a prominent player on the pro-death team. He would perhaps complain that he hasn’t proposed to murder anyone. He may get impatient, but would rather the great mass of us die off naturally. The world would then become a better place.

“Thou shalt not kill; but need’st not strive / Officiously to keep alive …” was how (my adored) Arthur Hugh Clough satirized this position, in his “Modern Decalogue.” This was a gentleman of the pro-life camp, who perfectly understood the views of our bourgeoisie — their murderousness and their sentimentality — almost two centuries ago. One may see that he was already using the word “modern” with distaste.

Pleasures of ischaemia

During my last twenty years as an imaginary sailor, through which the High Doganate has been my port of call, the world has grown increasingly unfriendly. When I moved in, to begin with, after I had been exiled from my old home and family, and impoverished at the command of the state, it seemed that the world had changed, perhaps not for the better. But I could argue that only my circumstances had been transformed. Now, with the expansion of powerful new gizmos (“social media” is just one example of what they are capable of doing) it seems that the spirit of this planet has also … “evolved,” as they say.

Privacy has been or is being progressively deleted, and human freedom has been therefore cancelled, to accommodate these new inventions — about which no one may complain, for they have proved very popular in the marketplace. In a similar way, silence was deleted by the imposition of previous innovations. The world at first remained potentially free, but became intolerably noisy. Then, as consumers acquired the new products, from motor cars to motor boats to motor aeroplanes, freedom had to live with the abandonment of peace.

Things seem different now. The conformity of death, or of the simplest and most primitive living creatures, is now promoted as our two remaining options by the woke-environmentalist generation of our worldly masters. “Saving the planet,” we are compelled to agree with them, will require us to stop eating, and moving about. The authorities may also close our bank accounts. All are placed under medical supervision.

My own situation is complicated — enhanced — by my medical condition, since indulging in a heart attack and stroke last year. The doctors left me (involuntarily, I suppose) forgetful of names, and staggering like a Parkdale inebriate. This dizziness, in the time since the surgical operation, could have been regarded as a nuisance, for the constant inclination it gives me to fall on my face. Indeed, twenty-two months of “that old vertigo in his head” (Swift’s description) sometimes seems quite enough.

But that is where my calling as an imaginary yachtsman comes in.

You see, I live in a flat which is about thirty feet in length, by nineteen in width. By interpreting this as the deck of a catamaran yacht, I am able to appreciate the action of current and waves. Also, through the door to my balcony, the winds, summer heat, and winter cold, can be admitted. I have re-imagined a life in which, for instance, I am able to escape the Liberal Party of Canada simply by sailing away.

Readers should be advised that I’m an old-fashioned sailor: please do not send any navigational devices nor other gizmos to me as a gift. Indeed, the wonderfully efficient format of the double canoe with platform between is an ancient Polynesian innovation, not a modern one; rather more clever than our cumbersome galleons. They sailed by the stars and by the subtleties they observed at each of the sea’s locations. And they flourished in a great region that was temperate by nature, on little islands in the gentle breeze, avoiding extremes of north and south entirely. What use could they have for our modern gizmos, who already knew what they needed to know?

For note, the next best thing to imaginary sailors, is real ones.

Cut them out

One gathers, from the prattle in the meejah and so forth, that persons who do not embrace the latest fashions in progressive attitudes must, in fact, be lax in their adherence to Democracy. Especially, their views on science are repellant. They think it should consist only of things that can be repetitively demonstrated, and that empirical theories mean nothing until so tested. They doubt that abstract “social questions” actually exist. Many are mired in religious beliefs and practices, long after science has abandoned them. They are like a primitive tribe, disposed to “march for freedom,” and to act in other uncooperative ways. In this and other matters they are intransigent, some even after they have been enrolled for re-education in modern universities — though a majority can be cured of their independent thinking by this means, or at least rendered silent.

Still, they may continue to harbour resentments against Democracy, or even object to having their property seized by force and compound taxes, to fund liberal causes and popular wars. They are, in a word, or four if I might use so many, Enemies of the People.

While the settled habit of modernity is to develop various methods for punishing these (enemies-of-the-) people, or new ways to exhibit zero tolerance to those threatening to express their provocative opinions, I think perhaps the older principles of John Locke, in his Epistola de Tolerantia, might be worth another try. We might begin by agreeing with the famous English philosopher that Jews and Catholics are beyond the pale, and merit only active repression. But what to do with the many who remain outside Synagogue and Church, who may, as far as we know, not be openly defying our self-appointed authorities?

I think the smoother plan would be to cut them out. Make them ineligible for any of the services of the welfare state, including the provision of taxes. Prevent them from enjoying the many benefits of our regulatory systems. Leave them to choke in the fumes of their gasoline cars, and to eat red meats and other toxic foods, riddled with sugars and fats. Let them take only such vaccines as they want to pay for, voluntarily. Let them read, dance, sing, and participate in their other secretive cultural activities, without the supervision of progressive censors.

Perhaps we should even let inoffensive Jews and Catholics be punished with the softness of Tolerantia; that is, if they can prove that they have never voted, or will not vote again. For after all, our cradle-to-grave administration of Democratic control and guidance should be available only to those who have earned it.

On an African note

“Your mission is not to save a dying world. No civilization has the promises of eternal life. Your mission is to live out with fidelity and without compromise the faith you received from Christ.” The quote is from Robert Cardinal Sarah, and jumped to my attention while examining a Twitter thread this morning.

The gentleman is sometimes mentioned as “papabile” (a candidate for pope). It is observed that he has all the qualifications. He is a human male, with Catholic beliefs. Apparently, this last is no longer insisted upon very strictly.  That Cardinal Sarah is a practitioner of the old liturgy (which is conventionally sung in Latin), and an advocate of traditional marriage, &c, makes him controversial. He is also opposed to miscellaneous violent, tyrannical creeds, thus making him unpopular among the Woke.

A product of rural French Guinea, the son of Christian converts from animism, Cardinal Sarah enjoyed a remarkable education as a Catholic seminarian within “third world” institutions constantly threatened or being terminated by Marxist anti-colonialists; ending more peacefully in Rome after a year in Jerusalem, where I think I may have caught a glimpse of him in 1971. In the field, as priest, he earned his way onto Sékou Touré’s death list (an African dictator who was once the embodiment of revolutionary coolness), but miraculously outlived him. He is old now, has survived a prostate operation, and been retired by Pope Francis. Still, he is lively.

His “African” qualities appeal to me. These are evident in many of his common-sensical rejections of the fashionable nostrums that the modern West tries to impose on African countries, by making them conditions of aid programs. The African response is, marvellously, not to engage in convoluted ideological resistance to them. It is rather to call them “stupid.” By this means i.e. abortion and homosexuality are simply dismissed.

This is what peasant Africans have in common with middle Americans and the European working class. They are out of tune with the bureaucratic chorus of progressive, Western elites. Old-fashioned Catholicism and native African conservative values overlap. They are approximately the same in outlook, to an apex in God. These are the principles of civilizational order recognized by all known religions (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindoo, &c). The human animal was wired for them, “from the beginning.”

It is because the Church gives the highest “liturgical” expression to the poetry of this order, that Christianity has spread “like wildfire” across the African continent — within memorable time. It would do so here, once again, given the freedom. For it once did, right across Europe, then America.

(One thinks of the freedom of the Gregorian reform.)

Cardinal Sarah: “There reappears a new struggle between priesthood and empire. But the empire is now the relativist, hedonistic, and consumerist culture that has infiltrated everywhere. It is time to reject this, because it is irreconcilable with the Gospel.”

Into the blackness

A gentleman who signs himself “Elvin” writes this morning, offering to disclose the security vulnerabilities of my Essays in Idleness website. He would, however, first like to know what we would pay, for such a generous service.

I may be misgendering Elvin. She does not reveal her favourite pronouns. Perhaps I should imagine her as a powerful, big-shouldered aquatic maiden, dripping with Olympic medals. Or as an adept percussionist in John Coltrane’s jazz quartet, in which case he would be a dead non-white male. Which, or whoever it is, I did not appreciate the menacing tone, and have resolved to ignore the warning.

For this morning is Black Friday, the originally American heathen celebration, honouring everything omitted from Thanksgiving on the day before — starting with coarse vulgar greed, but including all of its relatives. It is a day when the dignity of modern life is shown not to exist; when God has officially expired.

In the spirit of Black Friday, let me darkly ask, as I do once in every year, for donations to my pathetic blog. My pitch is concealed behind the Donation? button, top right. I can tender only one bright, breathless new encouragement:

Think what you will save, if I die before you do!

Mary, Mary

From Calais to Leith is a five day journey, by sailboat, I am given to understand. I think of Mary Stewart — Mary, Queen of Scots — who made this passage at the age of eighteen. She was assisted by sailor-courtiers, however, and did not have to handle the sheets and anchor by herself.

The voyage was comparatively shorter, and thus technically less impressive, than that of Laura Dekker, who, some centuries later, circumnavigated the globe, solo, at the age of sixteen. But Miss Dekker, as she then was, had not been Queen of France, as the “Miss Stewart” had been, at that tender age. And the Stewart girl was already a widow, through no fault of her own. I would give her extra marks for seamanship, given this handicap.

Scottish-born Mary was already Queen of that northern realm. This was because her brothers and father (James V) had all, as we say, suddenly “passed on” — perished — leaving the then six-day-old Princess Mary as their sole heir. The Scotch Reformation was coming, and while Protestants have associated our Mary with distasteful schemes, I don’t think even John Knox accused her of plotting murders in her cradle. Still, he was among the many things that made Scotland inhospitable for Mary’s return. (I’m sure the reader will find this matter mentioned in the Wicked Paedia.)

I was instead idly reading Mary Stewart’s beautiful farewell to France, written on shipboard in August, 1561. (Some Puritans doubt her authorship, of course; but the young lady was quite cultivated.) She wrote:

Adieu, France! adieu, mes beaux jours!
La nef qui disjoint nos amours
N’a cy de moi que la moitié;
Une part te reste, elle est tienne.
Je la fie à ton amitié
Pour que de l’autre il te souvienne …

Dreaming of counterfactuals, as I often do. Mary Tudor was the last legitimate Tudor monarch of England. She was called “The Bloody” by heretical historians (because she sent a few hundred heretics to the flames). Alas, she died childless. This was a pity, for she was an excellent queen, who should have been installed earlier, instead of her silly half-brother, the Prottie “Edward VI.”

Then, she should have been followed by Mary Stewart, rather than by the unqualified Elizabeth, daughter of one of the not-yet-beheaded floozies of King Henry VIII. For the House of Stewart and the House of Tudor were already linked; it shouldn’t have been a problem, as it wasn’t for James VI and I, Mary Stewart’s son.

England, the gentle reader will recall, was Catholic, before the sex-addicted Henry Tudor messed up. It should have remained sublimely Catholic.

Bluster signalling

The difference between bluster and a lie has been confused by political commentators, including, I think, most of those on the Left.  Yet the distinction itself will require bluster; it does not have the neat surgical or street-knife precision that lies have always had. For a lie can be eliminated with a single sharp incision. That is what makes laws and lawsuits possible, in our constitutional, legalistic world. What cannot be exposed and removed, is therefore not entirely a lie, and only in a tyranny are non-lies “actionable.”

Bluster is a rhetorical device that is employed quite universally. For the Left employs bluster, too. (But humourlessly.) And right-wing people — God forgive them — also lie sometimes.

Hockey players (on both left-wing and right-wing) also behave deceitfully. In their case, the device is not rhetorical. A hockey player will, for instance, fake left and shoot right, among several other tricks.

As a scarcely competent cricket batsman, once upon a time, I was intent on distinguishing googlies from chinamen. (Surely these are explained on the Internet somewhere.) As a spin bowler, my one skill was that no one could guess which side my deliveries might break upon. I, myself, could never guess.

Likewise, animals use tricks, playfully; or less playfully, with the intention of using each other’s bodies, for food. However, they don’t use words, any more than the hockey players. I mention this to establish that words are just a frill to a lie. They are — to bluster scientifically — a recent evolutionary development (assisted, no doubt, by the intervention of Satan).

Animals also bluster, as one may quickly learn from hanging out with them. Even fruitflies seem equipped to fool us. It is, almost invariably, a defensive posture, to avoid being sprayed, or swatted; whereas humans have the wit to use bluster on offence.

Take Trump, for instance. From the bad habit of attending politics, I have noticed this character. He can be very charming; or not. He can be exceedingly clever; or not. He can be unusually lucky; or not. Those who would characterize themselves, as “Democrats,” do not understand, let alone tolerate, Trump, because they have become obsessed with his (merely verbal) manner of play.

Perhaps he is not too fat, nor too old, to become a spin bowler. He can make all the moves. He tempts batsmen to swing at where the ball isn’t; he tempts them to mistake where the play is. Trump is most adept at government policy, in which he was more successful than any American president since Reagan. But remember, Reagan was also full of bluster, enough to drive his enemies wild. I get bored, rolling off Trump’s actual achievements. He seldom lies, because he does not have to; bluster will normally see him through.

And it is because they can’t distinguish bluster from a lie, that his rivals tend to be defenceless against him. They sue him frequently, but pointlessly. On the other hand, Biden and company tell lies because they haven’t another practical choice: the truth just demolishes them. This, because they have made the humourless mistake, of taking “democracy” seriously, and worse, “human rights.”

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.

Final sale

Among the few attractions of the Parkdale neighbourhood, over the past century or so, has been a large art store. I could spend at least as much time in such an art store, if I had the choice, for since childhood I have been acquiring art materials; and while there is a proverb in effect, that one cannot become a great artist by buying a lot of art supplies, I’ve been out to prove this proverb wrong.

While riding a trolley east along Queen Street (I am a monarchist, still) I realized, yesterday, to my horror, that Curry’s Art Store had “packed it in.” This was especially disappointing, as the Curry’s in question, which had become their central franchise, was the product of several mergers or other capitalist condensations. The store was once, under the management of generations of independent artists, perhaps the largest art store in the region; and since the region contains the conurbation of Toronto, with its five or ten million souls, it was fairly busy. Indeed, I was disappointed when the (obsequiously commercial) Messrs Curry took it over, several years ago, for I anticipated the end.

I could go on tediously about how Batflu restrictions had killed the store. They certainly made fetching art supplies from independent dealers a less plausible proposition. But really there are deeper reasons.

The nature of art, and its material fabric, has radically changed from the tradition that began in the caves of Lascaux, or earlier. The technology has been transformed. Apparently, no one paints any more (or sculpts, &c), just as no one writes letters. They do their scribbling on computer tablets, and ping their creations about, electronically. Any materials discovered still to be required may be ordered from Amazon.

The clever modern artist has no need for talent or skill.

Most Parkdale shops are currently being replaced by marijuana dispensaries. But I think our former art store is too big a corpse for this purpose. It will have to be subdivided into various, smaller, marijuana dispensaries, and perhaps a sex-change clinic.