Essays in Idleness

DAVID WARREN

One last harrumph for Trumph

Perhaps I haven’t tried hard enough, to make my peace with Immanuel Kant, and a few others who were trying to restore human dignity in a world descending into “transhumanism” (the latest term for what comes after “humanism”) — back during “The Enlightenment,” there. I should at least acknowledge they were trying, to tack back onto the side of God; to aim for a safe port, as it were. Even while conceding “godless” to the default position.

Humans cannot be reduced to objects, as Kant proclaimed. Or, more exactly, they should not be. Still, as I approach the man, I slip on a patch of black ice, named David Hume.

A large part of the power tussle everywhere, might be captioned, “The victory of transhumanism.”

Or, to put it in more preposterous form: “The Final Solution of HR.”

For departments of human resources state the transhumanist position baldly. They declare that humans are resources, like oil and gas, or pork bellies. Or, robots. Humans can be used — or discarded — by a cost-benefit analysis. If a human can do something cheaper than a robot, then very well, we’ll continue to pay him. But if the robot can do it cheaper, then the human has to go.

There is a practical problem, getting rid of him, but they have a plan for that in Human Resources.

Trump, who won’t be president next week, struck me as human. He made mistakes. He had embarrassing emotions. He was instinctual, to a fault. He was also biased: pro-human, even fanatical at times. Well fair enough, he reached his sell-by date. (At birth?)

Though perhaps not in the best repair, Biden struck me as more of a robot. He has computer glitches. But he is easy to program. And has a cool, progressive team behind him. He is bringing in technocrats from all over, including quite a few from Big Tech. They cannot make mistakes, because they are the mistake, embodied.

We may come to think of Mister Trump, as the last human being to occupy the White House.

The machine seems undefeatable, today, because it is global. The well-trained progressive in any country — Communist China, for instance — can understand that progress requires organization; that it doesn’t just happen by itself. There must be centralization, for technocracy to work. We can’t just leave people to make their own decisions, for that would be messy. If we did, we might get another Trump. A good organization will make that quite impossible.

That transhumanism is essentially violent — not generally, but specifically towards the humans — is easily demonstrable, but hardly understood.

Consider a little city, like Minneapolis, and what’s left of its downtown; of all the little businesses burnt out, up and down its “opportunity zone.” The George Floyd riots, whatever else one can say about them, were a profitable real estate investment. There is now a strip of very cheap properties, to be bought up by multinational investors. They get mortgages at close to zero percent. And they buy at this distress sale from people who are wildly overdrawn, on credit cards, at 16 percent or more.

This is progress. Regardless of their politics, the humans have all lost. The transhuman abstraction has won.

Today’s little piece of Minnesota insight came from Catherine Austin Fitts. A credible senior bureaucrat in the old days, she was nevertheless one who saw the “housing bubble” swelling, and knew that it must pop. She continues to think and analyze things — even now that she has been “cancelled.” Big Tech has surmised that she is crazy-tunes now (human, all too human). It was time to shut her communicating down. People mustn’t be exposed to the shocking things she lays out — about who benefits, how and why; about who will be the designated losers. But no one can see anything anyway, while they are rolling their eyeballs. On top of everything else, she turns out to be a believing Christian. Case closed; as closed as a church, in Canada.

In every thing that fell out of the Batflu, and the summer riots for that matter, innumerable little guys were wiped out; and a very few big guys — pretty much Democrats to a man — marched around the Monopoly Board. A horrible human mess was created, while they were getting more fabulously rich.

But that’s where transhumanism comes in: to clean up. It is the Devil’s own HR department. For the problem of messy humans can be solved, by contraception and abortions, euthanasia and suicides.

Excuses, excuses

“The goat ate my homework.” I remember this, from high school. I was trying to make the conventional excuse, that the dog had eaten my homework, but wanted something more plausible. For dogs, according to my information, did not often eat paper. Goats, alternatively, often did.

I’d been reading Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World — a book so good it must be banned by the commies before every boy has read it — where an unwanted goat is slipped aboard Slocum’s little sloop, the Spray. This was done by a well-intentioned American at St Helena, in the South Atlantic. Mr Slocum was stuck with this animal, along with a big bag of the Royal Mail, to Ascension, his next British-ruled island.

Now, our marine literature contains many proofs, to the effect that goats make poor sailors. I used to share an office with a very amusing photograph of a goat leaping an improbable distance ashore, from a dhow landing somewhere in the Persian Gulf. They (the goats) may be sure of their footing on high mountain precipices, but on a ship the deck keeps moving, and they don’t like that.

Slocum neglected to tie his goat to the mast. He confesses as much. Once inside the cabin, and feeling peckish, the goat began eating Slocum’s navigation charts. This was the more inconvenient, because one was the map for a difficult upcoming landfall.

Alas, I was born too late to give him my recipe for meemee saag (a delicious Punjabi goat stew); and anyway it requires a lot of spinach, and spinach does not grow in the South Atlantic. Too, Slocum, though not a vegetarian, had a moral objection to eating his shipmates. He thought this carried a scent of cannibalism.

What happened to the goat, after it was offloaded on Ascension (it took the lead in disembarking), history does not tell.

The need for some variation upon “the dog ate my homework,” was felt in Rome recently, as the blog, Rorate Caeli, pointed out. The Vatican’s update was “computer coding error.” This to explain the suspicious transfer of millions of dollars to suspicious recipients, in Australia.

We are all at sea with the Vatican, these days. Often, we feel like the goat.

As a nice Catholic boy, I could not wish to say anything uncharitable towards them. But I’m reminded of what Thomas More said, in a polemic against Martin Luther. It was about some production of a dog, that he esteemed more highly. But I mustn’t quote it in a family Idlepost.

How to make a scene

An acquaintance, and former friend, says that I’ve been mixing with “controversial” people. By this I think he means, others in need of cancelling, as the revolution proceeds. It is true: I am partial to intelligent people, although also to my saltier Parkdale neighbours, fewer of whom smoke pipes. I hang out disproportionately with the perfesser types, even though I hate universities; but then, so do they. Every one wears socks and shoes, and some wear ties, on the Zoom cameras. A couple of lawyers, too, and miscellaneous other vocations; but what we have in common is, that we’re all more-or-less reactionaries, or what is just as good, capable of coping with views we disagree with, without melting down. (A John-Stuart-Mill liberal counts as a deep reactionary, today.)

But, you should meet their wives.

For none of my buddies is married to a feminist, or anything close. Rather, it seems, they all coincidentally married anti-feminists; and all, by whatever chance, learned, impressively independent women. These ladies are of a tribe who contemptuously refuse office jobs. They’re too busy as the principals of their little home schools. They are producing the sort of offspring that Leftists dream of putting in re-education camps with the Uighers; but some are already old enough to bear arms. Nevertheless, gentle and peaceful and very well-behaved, until they are threatened.

It is true, there is something weird about these women. They all strike me as unusually beautiful, and seem to grow younger after each new child. Too, they dress conservatively, not like the models in lingerie ads. Perhaps Margaret Atwood could write a novel about them.

I love to see Mother Hen at work, training her little chicks by example.

One, for instance, was shopping by necessity in a “big box” store. She found that all the cashiers had been replaced by machines. By the Helpful Person attending them, the new regime was explained. She asked if they’d fired all the cashiers, and he — lying with a smile — said no. There was no effect on employment, he recited. So she left the Helpful Person with her basket of goods, and walked out the door, back to the family SUV, after mentioning that she would never return. Her husband, with the children, walked out meekly behind her.

For Mother Hen knows you make a scene, only for the sake of entertainment. Much better to just dump the goods, and exit. The police still can’t force you to buy stuff. Only the gummint can do that; and then, only on the days when the gummint can find you.

Unfortunately it has been shutting down all the little family stores, in honour of the Red Chinese Batflu. And it is winter, and so, hard to grow things this far north. But the family has a plan, for “back to the land,” and it is well advanced. Classical scholarship goads them on.

A majority still complain that the gummint hasn’t locked them down harder. The polls show this, and the meejah are constantly on the case. But as these people have few children, the cities may soon clear. This will solve a lot of environmental problems.

There has been some moaning about Big Tech, gratuitously closing “social media” accounts. They think it is their duty to silence Trump supporters and the like, or at least to taunt them. But they make the need for an alternative infrastructure wonderfully apparent, instead. And no one much suffers by cutting out them.

Moreover, thanks to such as Amazon and company, the cashiers already will have lost their jobs. All the warehouses will have been mechanized. Their discarded staff will have nowhere else to look for paid employment. This will solve the problem of union wages, which slows agricultural renewal.

Things are looking up.

Five feet of fury

On the topic of transformations, my own “evolution,” into a “backward racist redneck freak from Jesusland” (thanks to whoever said this first), continues passim. An old pro in the art of being abrogated, I’ve been on some sort of “no fly” list for æons now, and from a recurrence of jackhammers in Castle Maynard (the building in which the High Doganate is housed), I suspect the NKVD is everywhere. As the author of a prize essay on, “The Use and Abuse of Paranoia,” a long time ago, I have learnt to turn my persecution mania to advantage, and as I write, have hatched a scheme to fetch more milk for my tea — and tea bags, if necessary — even under Batflu conditions.

Let me take this moment to honour Kathy Shaidle, my fellow Canadian Catholic paranoid — now beyond the reach of the cancel culture. She died of ovarian cancer on Sunday. She is going back to a family plot in her native (and despised) Hamilton, Ontario; and under a stone that she had inscribed with her motto. It is, “GET OFF MY LAWN!”

I met Kathy around September 11th, 2001, when I was still a “mainstream” in the birdcage liners, but “reaching out” to the new world of bloggers, of whom most of my fellow journalists had not yet heard. That was also about the time Kathy was transforming, from an “anarcho-peacenik,” into a “Relapse” — to Christian faith, Western Civ, and cultural antideconstruction.

We were defenders, in those days, of “Bushitler” and other unpopular causes; until less popular came along. Another of her self-descriptions was, “Five Feet of Fury.” A graduate, too, of Lupus Erythematosus, she was a very merry little person, with a delightfully sharp, can-opening tongue. By now, among the legends of our Arctic Right, she was rounded up with Ezra (“The Rebel”) Levant, Kate (“Small Dead Animals”) McMillan, and Mark (“Global Content Provider”) Steyn, in pioneering lawsuits by Canada’s Human Rights Gestapo.

From my own encounters with Press Councils and the like, and being successively driven out of seventeen newspapers, I could appreciate the suspects’ patience. For, “the process is the punishment” in each case; and soon as one suit is disposed of, another one sails in from Left Field.

God bless and keep Kathy. I’m sure He has already been told that she is politically incorrect, and independently minded. Also, both funny and sincere. I’m just trying to imagine her, dressed as a little angel.

A world of promise

“By our age, all of our thrills are vicarious,” said Dic Doyle, editor of the Globe & Mail (a once-respected Toronto daily). Or, Mop & Pail, to its inmates. This was more than half-a-century ago.

Mr Doyle was then not quite fifty, himself; but speaking to me, then barely sixteen. For I was once a copy boy at the Mop, and a very successful one. They’d leave me in charge of the telegraph room when dear old Vern was having trouble with a bottle. They’d let me read out-of-town papers, on behalf of the Exchange Editor. I’d even reported a Rochdale drug-bust story, that found its way onto the front page. (It was just over two inches in length; but I got a five-dollar bonus because it contained a fatality.)

I had written a long memo to Mr Doyle, which I naughtily cc’d to a Mr Davey — some thirteen pages as I recall — arguing for the already-discarded system of journalistic apprenticeships. It opposed the Mop‘s fresh newsroom policy, of hiring only graduates of “J-schools.” I expected to be fired for having any opinion, but no, Mr Doyle said my memo was well-written. Too, that he would be vicariously thrilled, to watch my career advancing.

Upon learning that I had lined up a job at the Bangkok World, he said, “Ah, youthful enterprise! I was going to suggest the Chatham Daily News.”

By now, Doyle has been dead for nearly eighteen years. Gentle reader will guess he was one of my heroes. He could match me in education: we had both completed Grade Ten. The last chief editor of the Mop who was capable of loyalties — he would not have a word said against Christ, or the Queen — he promised to hire me back when I had acquired some experience.

He was, as ever, as good as his word. But I declined his kind offer of a desk job, more than a decade later, after chatting with several potential colleagues. I observed that they were all commies.

“Ah, you noticed. In the old days we used to have a token Marxist on the editorial horseshoe. These days we just have a token journalist.”

Doyle was now approaching retirement.

I am afflicted with these distant memories, in Toronto again, under lockdown. My mind often flies down pneumatic tubes of nostalgia. It is illegal for me to visit, or be visited by, another human being. After my son dropped by to fix my computer, recently, a neighbour — one of nature’s more enthusiastic snitchers — promised that if she suspected I had another visitor in my flat, she would call the police. A diligent researcher, she told me that the fine could be “up to $100,000,” plus “up to one year in gaol.”

Rather than argue, I quietly smiled. I was reflecting that it would also be illegal to tie her up with a telephone cord, and slide her off the balcony.

A lot of things are illegal today: after all, Canada is no longer a free country. We still have newspapers, however, which are unlike Pravda, because Pravda didn’t carry supermarket flyers. Whoever that token journalist was, at the Mop & Pail, circa 1982, I daresay he has expired.

But no one yet has tried to stop me from reading all day, and for the moment these Idleposts seem to be still appearing.

Upstream & down

Among students of our Canadian rivers, there is (or was) a scientific consensus that the waters they contain run generally downhill. Crawfish and some other creatures may resist this tendency, but among scientists, “downward wettening” prevailed. And as we are informed, every day in our meejah, we must “follow the science.” As a sometime canoeist in earlier life, I know I did.

Thanks to such discoveries of modern science, we spoke confidently of things that were “upstream” and “downstream,” not only at the frontiers of riparian studies, but also by analogy in many other fields. That, for instance, politics are downstream of culture, was something I seemed to admit, Saturday; although the discerning reader may have noticed that I attributed this view to Breitbart and Gramsci. Myself, I’m not sure anything is downstream from anything any more, in the popular mind; and antiquated concepts such as “up” and “down” may be associated with white supremacy. One might be thrown off Facebook and Twitter, although in my case, as I am not on them, they will have to come for something else.

For really, we are now in the post-scientific age, where our worship of science has become selective. Indeed, from what I can make out, our “science” is only acceptable if it has been made up. Evidence-based researches are quickly banned as “fascist” and “racist.”

Hence, questions about which way the rivers are running. And even the theological authorities in the Vatican, who believe that two plus two may equal five, challenge other things formerly taken for granted. They are on the verge of discovering what are now commonplaces in “secular” society, for instance that men and women are purely cultural constructions, and that if God exists, or used to, He made at least 57 other sexes.

Up here in the High Doganate, however, where we are notoriously reactionary, post-science is rejected. We (let me use the “royal”) still hold that water wanders, of its own accord, from the higher to the lower locations. Obstinately, we affirm “upstream” and “downstream,” even in analogies.

Whereas, the world now holds, and is willing to enforce, that rivers run uphill. Even Breitbart and Gramsci may be dismissed as passé, for politics are now located upstream from culture. The “dictatorship of relativism,” as Pope Benedict called it, which previously agreed to the cultural priority, now seems hopelessly dated. The dictatorship now determines what culture should be.

But not in the High Doganate, my little bubble of backwardness. We (meaning, I) do not paddle upstream, from politics, to culture, to religion — taking this last as a kind of afterthought. Rather, I shoot the rapids, downward, in my little barque without sails.

This was the ancestral order of precedence. Religion came first, in all previous cultures; and is still originative, even now when it takes satanic forms. But God is, or was, the first spring. By the time we’ve passed through culture, down to politics, a lot of mud has accumulated.

Where is Reason, in this diagram? Curiously, I also locate it at the top. Indeed, because it is a universal (in my quaint way of thinking), I am capable of using “faith” and “reason” almost interchangeably. For a clean faith in God is like a clean faith in Arithmetic; and I am fanatic, in my belief that two plus two make four. Too, that murder is always wrong, &c. These are things that, in my retrograde view, simply utter from the spring.

Not that I would insist upon them. For I see that many, perhaps most of the worldlings around me have, thanks to politics and the culture, gone batshit insane. And it doesn’t make sense to argue with them.

The week in review

There are two principal political parties in modern America (in which I include up here). In the Natted States, the population is divided roughly equally between those of “progressive” and “regressive” habits of mind; in the Canadas, the former have come to dominate.

The tipping point was reached much earlier up here, and the new “metapower” (Foucault’s term) was seized, politically, from within the Liberal Party. The strategy was to disenfranchise the “conservative” half of the electorate, by undermining all national institutions, and hosing down Canada’s previous identity. I’d count, say, 1982, as the point of no return. That identity was replaced, definitively, under a revised Trudeau constitution, with a new “multicultural” identity, in which citizens were themselves redefined, from free persons whose rights were inalienable, to interchangeable clients of an omnipotent State, which could dispense rights whenever it was in the mood — and withdraw them whenever the mood changed; however frequently.

This is the Democrat strategy in the larger, and still less amenable, country next door. As Andrew Breitbart and Antonio Gramsci might agree, this is an essentially cultural process. Politics are visible at the tip of the iceberg, but “progress” requires a more thorough “cleansing,” of old cultural norms. The cancer metastasized more from Hollywood, than from Washington DC. The takeover of the Democratic Party as the vanguard “agent of change” was only part of the institutional takeover of America. As important was the takeover of the mass media, and even corporate boardrooms. Those who weren’t “progressive” would now be “cancelled”: must cease to be.

All cultural change has a religious dimension. The Democrat representatives of the “powers and principalities” mentioned by Saint Paul, are characteristically godless, themselves. But they depend on a massive, core constituency of low-information, low-intelligence, easily manipulated urban voters.

Those who can still see the stars at night tend to remain in the ancient, God-fearing default. In the cities, where the masses may not grasp that milk comes from cows, let alone that someone must milk them, the belief that the economy is based on government cheques is more common. That is the god of the populous cities, and for most city-dwellers, not voting for their “godless god” of progress, seems a kind of heresy.

The idea that such heretics should be deprived of their freedom, starting with freedom of speech, does not appeal to the “rural” voter, including people like me — a “country hick” type who paradoxically lives in the city. The idea that laws and constitutions should be flexible, to accommodate the latest schemes of a progressive technocratic élite, doesn’t flourish among us country bumpkins. But to the efficiency experts in the city, what is our problem?

For the city folk are tolerant. It wouldn’t be a problem if the bumpkin constituency would just stop trying to express itself; if people who voted Trump would keep it to themselves, and stop wearing red baseball caps. (They should wear Batflu muzzles instead.) But they won’t cut it out. They exhibit appallingly bad taste, and that is why they must be suppressed. “Unity” requires “diversity” — i.e. strict conformity, and unwavering obedience to ideological commands.

The means used were hardly legitimate, in the old-fashioned sense of consistently legal, but these Democrats now control all the levers of national political power in America. Moreover, election rules have been, and will be, systematically “reformed,” to remove the risk that they will ever be defeated again. They now have the votes in Congress to alter whatever they please.

While I have long been opposed to mobs — an urban phenomenon — I can understand the frustration of some Republican voters. Even kittens object, to being sewn into pillowcases, and may not appreciate the argument that they are being dipped in the river for their own good. Perhaps that is why, somewhat feline myself, I am less outraged than most city folk when they are accused of using their claws.

Morning after morning after

According to an (even) older Czech friend: “When you live long enough you see some strange things.” According to his wife, it is the current theme of his observations, back home in Zlin. The world, I have observed myself, is generally quite strange, except in moments when it becomes stranger. At such times, the most one can do is resist “change” — by staying monotonously sane, oneself. And yes, this is ineffective.

There are people older and wiser than I. One of them is Dennis Prager, whom I have long read with respect. On “a lifelong quest to understand human nature and human behaviour,” he wrote a column I seriously recommend, about what he has learnt recently, culminating in the Batflu. (Here.)

It is ostensibly about the “Good German.” It is extensively about the many, many millions, through history, who quietly accepted life under the Gestapo, or its parallel in many other countries. Why did these “silent majorities” put up with often monstrous deeds? Why didn’t they at least “protest”? How could they just stand by?

Why, let me add, after evil regimes collapsed, did they say, “We didn’t know” — what was happening to their former Jewish neighbours, or others who had been rounded up? Why even bother saying “we didn’t know,” when they couldn’t not have known, but had just been keeping their heads down.

Years ago, when the Czech friend mentioned above (then a refugee to Canada) was working in my Idler magazine, we had that discussion. Another staff member — smart, but glib and Canadian — was condemning Czechs and others for failing to resist the Communists. Why didn’t they make a stand? Why did most of them quietly submit to tyranny, and play along with all the lies and the mendacity of the tyrants?

It was a wild exchange. Suddenly my Czech, who like so many had risked his life to escape to the West, became angry. I had never seen him angry, before. He said nothing intemperate, but the veins on his neck were bulging. He had, for the moment, had enough of this smug young “conservative intellectual.” But he only said that, if his questioner had any experience of the circumstances, he wouldn’t say things so asinine and fatuous.

Really, one cannot say more. And today, Dennis Prager writes of the ease with which North Americans have accepted censorship, cancel culture, and leftwing intimidation, when they actually have the overwhelming power of numbers, and could easily win the battle they are losing. For an easy life, they play along. Rather than resist, they quickly adapt to the “politically correct,” and cheerfully utter the latest false platitudes. The more cynical advance themselves by playing along actively. They join the hyenas.

Prager finds himself defending the much-maligned “Good Germans” — who did not choose to let the Gestapo make examples of them, at a time when their lives were cheap.

For me, it was a little revelation to learn how Channel Islanders had behaved under Nazi occupation. I realized that all the grandstanding about British bravery under Churchill was sludge. Had the whole of the British Isles been occupied during World War Two, the British would have acted like the Vichy French. A few, to be sure, would have fought underground (as in France); but the great majority would have collaborated, in their various degrees of enthusiasm. Instead of a Churchill to salute, they would have had a Quisling.

It is pointless to misrepresent human nature.

We have saints and heroes. They have made a difference, “bigly,” at times. Even to losing causes, they have brought glory. I attribute them to God.

Those who attribute sanctity and heroism to Man, will continue to populate our swamps.

Antiantifa in action

A (gentle?) reader writes to allege that I am responsible for the Trumpestuous mob that invaded the Capitol building in Washington, yesterday. Let me make a full and frank confession. Yes, bored from the Batflu lockdown, I contrived to overthrow the Natted States Gummint. (A correspondent in West Texas tells me this is the correct spelling, not “guvmint” as I was using before.) My intention was to install Mister Trump as Generalissimo, and remove the “President Elect” to an old people’s home. (I’d do the job myself, but prefer to delegate.)

I had a press release ready for the Merican meejah, explaining how to spell generalissimo, and specifying that it is an Italian term, with a Latin superlative suffix; not Spanish, as they appear to believe. It mentioned as an afterthought that all Batflu restrictions were now lifted; and that any television host who moaned about this would be burnt at the stake, with Dr Fauci.

Truth to tell, I’m getting somewhat old and feeble myself, and a bit rusty at arranging coups d’état. I’m afraid my Washington operation didn’t come off quite as I planned, and that the Congress seems to have proceeded with the certification of the votes of the Electoral College, anyway. They should have realized this was quite pointless, now that they’d been overthrown. Note to self: have them all arrested.

Epiphany

[Brought forward from 2015, for some reason.]

*

There is a gentleman I know, from around here, who reads this Idleblog “sometimes,” and is nominally Catholic; although he’d be first to admit that he is what I call a “cradle case.” That is to say: baptized in a Catholic church, and spiritually abandoned thereafter. I love this guy, because he has honesty, candour, native humility, and a few other virtues that church-going Catholics often lack. So it was in character that he asked, the other day:

“What is Epiphany? Something must have happened that day. What the hell happened on Epiphany?”

“The arrival of the Magi. You know: ‘We Three Kings’ …”

This seemed a good starting point, and I was puzzling where to take it from there, when stopped short by the next question.

“What three kings?”

Let me put this succinctly. For a couple of generations, our Church of Kumbayah, which does not feel much need to catechize, unless people really insist — and then passes the job to volunteers, often themselves in serious confusion — has been depending upon the anti-Christian mass media to provide “the narrative,” or “backstory.”… And guess what?

My friend did, however, recognize the tune of the carol — a miracle, given the quality of my singing voice. That much was left, in anno MMXV: the tune of an Episcopal deacon, from the 1850s in downstate New York. My friend had probably heard it in a shopping mall.

There is much more to the Epiphany than “the narrative,” which is itself rather more involved than the carol attempts to express. But it is nevertheless a beginning. It is a path towards understanding the manifestation of Christ — to the world, not only of His fellow Jews, but of the Gentiles. Indeed, this Feast was once, and may well become again, the crown of the Christmas season. For those who still allow Christ into Christmas, it takes the “birth narrative” of Jesus and magnifies it.

Much of what the Devil was doing, when he was overseeing Catholic liturgical reform in the 1950s through 1970s, consisted merely of jumbling the calendar and texts, as much as he could get away with. Lax, crass, and inadequate translations, often purposeful mistranslations, were sent out in multiple languages: a kind of Pentecost in reverse. The profound gestures, profound music, profound artistic and architectural expressions of Holy Church, were replaced by cheap and nasty. Note the timeline: for this process did not start with Vatican II, as many “traditionalists” wrongly believe.

The destruction of the Epiphany Octave, for instance, was done under Pope Pius XII in 1955. This made possible the later reduction of the Epiphany itself to an apparent afterthought, that might be celebrated on its original date (as it had been through many, many centuries), or might soon be flipped to one Sunday or another. With the anchor of this Great Feast thus lifted, the big ship could then collide with every other ship in the harbour, damaging all, and sending a few to the bottom.

To say the Devil (and I don’t mean Bugnini; I mean the Devil) did not know what he was doing is a waste of words. He knew exactly what he was doing.

It is a source of excruciating pain to faithful Catholics today — especially those who survived the previous desecrations — to discover that the heroic efforts of John Paul II and Benedict XVI to restore the magnitude and serenity of Catholic liturgy and teaching, are being methodically undermined by their successor. Our resistance is now to false moral doctrine being “tweeted” from Rome, but this depends on a deeper falsehood of which our incumbents are hardly the cause. Rather they are symptoms: priests formed through weak seminaries in the glib spirit of the Novus Ordo; priests now bishops who often don’t know any better; who have become vague about whom they are serving, and are urgently in need of Christ’s help and our own very earnest prayers.

For the Catholic moral order extends from the Catholic mystical order, and it is that mystical order that is embodied in the Mass — unambiguously at the centre of Catholic life, day by day and century after century. The Mass is the means by which we take Our Lord into ourselves. “How to live, what to do” follows from that mystical installation. The homilies take their cue from the words and movements of the Mass; and surely not vice versa.

The Epiphany, and the ancient Epiphanytide (the latter half of the Christmas season), is essential to this proper ordering of things, in the procession from Christmas to Easter — a harmonic procession now rudely interrupted by an egress into so-called “Ordinary Time.”

In the Eastern as well as the Western Church, the 6th of January is an assembly of all the strands by which Christ is recognized — made manifest, seen, known — even before He has begun His public ministry. It is, as the Greeks have it, the Theophany — a word which connoted in ancient times the manifestation of the god to the worshipper. Indeed, in the Christian view, all such manifestations, and the very idea of them, must prefigure the central manifestation of Christ in universal history; unless they are plainly demonic.

The homage of the Magi comes into this, but also the Wedding at Cana, signally in the Eastern rite. All the events of Christ’s birth, childhood, and youth, are reflected in this Feast. That is why it could take precedence in the early Church over the Feast of the Nativity itself, which celebrates the birth only, nine months after the Annunciation. That Annunciation was also more important to the earliest Christians; and the significance of the birth was to be found more in the lowness or modesty of it; as, too, in the shocking nature of its announcement, by an Angel in a shepherds’ field. Not to “the wise,” perhaps visited in dreams; not to the intellectuals, did the Angel come; but to the lowly shepherds, who trusted in what they could see before them. (See the Church Fathers on this, usefully arranged in the Catena Aurea of Thomas Aquinas.)

One might even say that the Twelve Days of Christmas lead to, are the preparation for, this Feast of the Epiphany. The light has extended day by day: from the manger, to the shepherds, to the kings from afar; to the first miracle in the wine; and through everything that leads to the Crucifixion and the Resurrection and the Coming Again.

All of this needs to be recovered, in its wholeness, its harmony and completeness, within the passage of our seasons. It is a huge task, building and rebuilding Christendom; but, “Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven.” And so we must start again today, from out of the darkness by the starry light, in the company of Three Kings — bearing, with them, back into the Church, the finest gifts we are capable of presenting.

Surge, illuminare, Jerusalem.

The future of pugnacity

I make a subtle distinction between an argument and a brawl. Each has its place. Subtlety is needed, for sometimes, as in the Natted States just now, it is a fine balance. On both party political sides, there is an argument, that is on the edge of an internal brawl. Between the two parties, it is a brawl, but with hints of an argument, still.

By comparison, up here in the Canadas, where arguments and brawls are long overdue, there is instead what I have sometimes called, “the long sleep of the just.” (This is among my most sarcastic expressions.)

It is hard to decide on the degree of pugnacity that is called for, in any given situation. I use a mental scale, that runs from a dispute over small change from a grocery bill (in which weapons of mass destruction are almost never appropriate), to World War (wherein all bets are off). In the view of Eternity, however, immortal nastiness will sometimes peak at the supermarket cashpoint, whereas World Wars may be started with the best of intentions.

Note that I am not currently parading as a moral judgementalist. We try to stay cool, calm, and collected, in the ivory tower of the High Doganate; though it’s a close-run thing. Sometimes our only denizen is in contrary minds.

Those of my gentle readers who painfully follow the news, will notice that we celebrate Twelfth Night this year with fightin’ talk from the near abroad. To the Demwits, the fight is only over Trump, and whether he will leave office “peacefully.” Their raft of policy proposals is, by and large, concealed. To the Republicants, Trump is a flag pole, and Liberty is on the fly.

Were I to say more I would expose myself as approximately 100 percent on the Republican side — even though I am a Monarchist. This is because the Democrats have come to represent everything I despise in public life. Whereas, I only find around 80 percent of Republican policies despicable — and those the less representative ones.

That the election result was fraudulent, I take as proven on several planes. Democrats tend to be godless people, and the evidence accumulates that they are casual about committing crimes. There is more hesitation on the other side. Moreover, it would be uncharitable to my Merican friends, to suggest that the majority of their countrymen would even dream of voting for Biden.

But, “Who won the vote?” strikes me as an uninteresting question. If a majority did actually vote for Biden, America were lost, so why argue? Rather, it is time for a brawl — not to spend more precious hours in the rats’ maze of “democracy.”

I didn’t think the Patriots had a casus belli in 1776 (I descend from Loyalists, after all). It seems more plausible today, when everything that (limousine liberal) Thomas Jefferson could throw at (His Majesty) King George III, seems mild compared to the way Democrats now rule. I’ve been tempted to write an updated “Declaration of Independence,” but would demand five cents a word.

Meanwhile, a fight that is ultimately related. If today is indeed Twelfth Night — and I know it is, for I am capable of counting to twelve — tomorrow must be the Feast of the Epiphany. As opposed to: the nearest Sunday, by some vacuous clerical “reform” from 1969. It is the very belief that ancient traditions can be altered by a committee vote, that I think should be a casus belli for all of us.

Natal homing

The salmon, up here in the Canadas, as elsewhere, are apparently acquainted with the old Russian proverb, that “a man can do the most good where he was born.” Whether these salmon in fact think that they are men, like the sheep in New Zealand, is a side issue. Truth to tell, I never interviewed a salmon, in half a century of hack journalism, including the last decade or so of being a cancelled one — when gentle reader might think I’d have more leisure to widen my contacts. Indeed, in the only tête-à-têtes I can recall, the salmon were not in a position to reply.

But the homing instinct is not confined to them. A quick check in the Wicked Paedia reveals that “natal philopatry” is a thing. As usual, they display their tedious Darwinist assumptions, which they imagine to be buttressed by geomagnetic imprinting, chemical and olfactory cues, &c. We are slapped in the face by sea turtles, and Atlantic Puffins.

Granted, I am also tedious on this subject, but I giggle every time an unnecessary Darwinist assumption is dangled. This means that I am laughing a lot. The point is, most creatures, including cats, dogs, and migratory avians, reach a point in their wanderings when they want to go home. And, it turns out, most of them know the way.

I’ve never interviewed a Bluefin Tuna, either, but I celebrate their native conservatism — which some might confuse with racism. Those from eastern or western shores mix freely in the mid-Atlantic, and yet they know to which side they should return, as they grow and mature and want to start a family. “There is a chemical imprint in the animal’s otoliths,” it says here; and while a certain number find their way into trawlers, instead, only a tiny proportion make mistakes in the state of nature.

Recently, among my human friends, I have lost several old companions to natal philopatry. Why, just since the Batflu, I have lost one couple to Moravia, and another to southern Sweden, who had long been refugees from there. All observe, that there is now more socialism on this side of the Atlantic, than on that side, or it’s all much of a muchness. They might as well go back to where their language is understood and, quite frankly, the food is better. Enough of this refugee rubbish.

I can’t blame them, although I’m entitled to miss them. Well, in a few decades they’d be dead anyway, and maybe even before then, I will be; so everyone “goes home” eventually.

But sticking, rigidly, to the world of the biologically mobile, I think that Russian proverb is sound. Our notions of “multiculturalism” (more accurately, de-culturalism) have advanced, so that all the welfare states have become, in effect, refugee camps, and the inmates keep moving from one camp to another. As a Pakistani acquaintance once informed me, “Canada is a country of excellent facilities” — arguably better in this respect than his native Pakistan — and so he decided this is the place to be. But he still pines for home.

Once upon a time, when I was wandering in the East, to a place where I was employing foreign-educated smart young things, this topic often came up. Most observed that facilities were better elsewhere, and thought “elsewhere” would be an easier place to get rich. They hadn’t yet considered the consequences, not only to them but to the people they were abandoning. Perhaps, if they thought facilities were good things to have, they should attend to improving them where they were born. Perhaps even make them more attractive and humane, than the post-attractive and post-humane facilities in the West.

This was an heretical thought, “against progress,” even then: forty years ago and ten thousand miles away. It was hard to argue, for what was I doing there? (“Travelling.”) I noticed, however, that the stay-at-homes were the wiser, in my demographic samples, and likely the happier. Too, probably the more usefully productive. (We need a category for “uselessly productive,” that I’d be happy to supply.)

Is it best to be a heretic against progress, where one was born? I’m with the Russkies, on this.

Resolution

What gentle reader’s resolutions may be, for the New Year, are no business of mine, and I will not presume to advise, beyond recommending that you keep your resolutions. I have noticed, this year especially, that they (“resolutions”) are going out of style. I make my own on Saint Andrew’s Day, for the new liturgical year, so am already ahead of most “secular” people still mulling their options on New Year’s Eve. My reasoning is, that if I can’t keep my intentions through Advent, at least by the fourth Sunday I may be able to remember what they were. It is good to remember things.

But the spirit of Resolution has been dying in our society, and that is among the principal reasons that our public life has been down-trending. It is what we may call the Age of the Putz, using the term with its full Yiddish vigour, yet in English where we may say it in the presence of women and children. Yes, it means stupid, foolish, worthless, idle and so forth. But as I understand, at the fulcrum, it means “easy to swing around.” It means being led by one’s rope, as it were. A putz (understandably confused with a schmuck, or a nebbish) does what he has been told by the authorities, and oddly like the brave, he does not hesitate. But this is because he can’t endure pain. He can be agreeable, yet without charm. (Reader warning: my Yiddish may be defective.)

This would be acceptable, in the sense that there is nothing we can do about a putz — he has already surrendered — but a line must be drawn somewhere, if only for our own edification. This is where, in current jargon, we cross over from a putz, to a Karen. In my apartment building alone, there must be a dozen who have made this “transition.”

They are the ones who think they will die, if you’ve forgotten your bat-muzzle, or threaten to step within seventy inches of them, in an elevator. They may appear to be making a threat, by the shrieks of complaint they utter, but really it is only fear. It is, to be plain, the opposite of Resolution. The authorities, taking them for putzes, have easily instilled the “public health” terror, with “science” they have made up, and may yank them here or there as they want.

Could I make videos, I would record a snide little number that composed itself in my head, last May (when we were only two months into “fifteen days to flatten the curve”). It was entitled, “You’re Going To Kill People!” The dance component was a variation on the hippie-days twist, in which Walmart shoppers try to stay six feet clear of each other, while looting modest consumer durables.

Resolved, for the indefinite future, not to participate in this dance. Well, that might be labelled as a command. But the challenge we face is to retrieve vacuous, Pre-Batflu Normal; not so much to resist lunatic orders, as to ignore them. And should we be confronted by a phalanx of putzes, behind their forest of imaginary sarissas, offer to give each a hug and a kiss. Or better, retreat, as if you cannot hear them. For they are too encumbered to chase.

At the centre of Resolution, is a certain willingness to die. This counts for ten points in battle, but in the fog of everyday life, it translates into a willingness to be uncool. To show indifference in the face of social pressure, is what must serve to make the modern hero, or heroine as the case may be. It is not even necessary to shout, “To hell with all you idjits,” for that would be taking the devils seriously.

In the finest mediæval tradition, when the devils display at their most pompous, we laugh at them. Let us be Resolved, to laughter.