Neoclassicism Making A Comeback?

From The City Journal: ‘American Architecture’s Classical Revival:’

Well, trying to suffuse an architectural movement with an entire political philosophy might be a little much, but more ‘local’ would be nice:

‘Classical architecture is not just about history; it’s also about light, color, and human proportions, all of which help us understand it and relate to it so naturally. “People will not look forward to prosperity,” Edmund Burke once said, “who never look backwards to their ancestors.” In politics, as in architecture, tastes evolve. But lasting institutions can be built only on strong foundations.’

Some cool photos at the link.

As previously posted on this site.  When the Romantic became the Modern, and a great American poet tried to find place in the world, something that would carry from generation to generation.

Postcard From The Volcano

Children picking up our bones
Will never know that these were once
As quick as foxes on the hill;

And that in autumn, when the grapes
Made sharp air sharper by their smell
These had a being, breathing frost;

And least will guess that with our bones
We left much more, left what still is
The look of things, left what we felt

At what we saw. The spring clouds blow
Above the shuttered mansion-house,
Beyond our gate and the windy sky

Cries out a literate despair.
We knew for long the mansion’s look
And what we said of it became

A part of what it is . . . Children,
Still weaving budded aureoles,
Will speak our speech and never know,

Will say of the mansion that it seems
As if he that lived there left behind
A spirit storming in blank walls,

A dirty house in a gutted world,
A tatter of shadows peaked to white,
Smeared with the gold of the opulent sun.

Related On This Site:  They designed a city in the heart of Brazil that really doesn’t work for people: Brasilia: A Planned City

No thanks to living in planned communities upon someone else’s overall vision.: Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?Repost-Via Reason: ‘Salvador Allende’s Cybersocialist Command Center’From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’

A structure in the desert…not even a city Update On LACMA, Michael Heizer And The ‘Levitated Mass’-Modern Art And The Public;..where is modernism headed? Via Youtube: Justin, The Horse That Could Paint

Denis Dutton suggested art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth…the money and the fame) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

Roger Scruton In The American Spectator: The New Humanism…From Nigel Warburton’s Site: A Definition of Humanism?…From The City Journal Via Arts And Letters Daily: Andre Glucksman On “The Postmodern Financial Crisis”

American Foreign Policy-Somewhere Between Peace Activism & Humanitarian Intervention?

Walter Russell Mead at the American Interest:  ‘Obama, Anti-Semitism, and Iran:’

Mead riffs on Obama statement from this interview with Jeffrey Goldberg.

Goldberg and Mead suspect that the anti-Semitism found in some quarters is not rational, and doesn’t lead to rational decisions.

Mead:

‘The problem here is that the President, ironically enough, doesn’t seem to understand diversity. He thinks diversity is trivial: that people of different religious faiths, ethnic backgrounds and ideological convictions are not all that different in the way they look at the world.’

and:

‘Essentially, Goldberg was asking the President whether his years in the White House have taught him that real diversity exists, and that it matters. He was asking whether the President understands that people from different cultures can sometimes operate on the basis of such radically different presuppositions that their mental world maps are fundamentally incompatible with the norms of reason as the President sees them. He was asking whether the President had considered whether Iranian leaders in particular reason so differently from standard cosmopolitan Washington liberal thinking that they may not, in fact, be approaching these negotiations from what the President, and most Americans, would recognize as a logical point of view’

The ‘rational actor’ model the President relies upon has distanced American interests from many allies, while getting America close enough to try and do business with various non-allies, adversaries, and traditional enemies.  It has done so on the assumption that American threat and use of force is part of the problem.  It has assumed that Vladimir Putin, the post-1979 mullah State in Iran, and the Castros in Cuba are rational enough to have a hand extended to them during this recent change in diplomacy.

This approach comes with the obvious risk that such a model may not be universally shared, but rather one among many concepts shared by a smaller subset of Westerners with a worldview of their own.  It risks trusting that Vladimir Putin and the post-1979 mullah State (the Castros can probably really only hurt the Cubans under their control) will act under the presumption of a certain amount of good faith the ‘rational actor’ model requires.  It presumes we can trust these guys enough to reach deals, even without the threat of force, and that we’re on the same ‘plane.’

Of course, it may be just as rational to guide policy based upon actual behavior, expecting such regimes to continue doing what they’ve been visibly doing.  Both Moscow and Tehran have deep anti-American sentiment and have held loose alliance between themselves.  They are busy maintaining, expanding and exploiting their spheres of influence by means that set themselves and their people against American policy, as well as Western and international laws and much else besides (claiming American policy, international laws and expectations are aggressions and constraints against their interests).

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Some other links:

From The New Yorker: ‘Journey To Jihad:  Why Are Teenagers Joining ISIS?

Informative piece which follows a Belgian jihadi from a Belgian Anjem Choudary wannabe organization to the Syrian desert.

***As to the title, I’m guessing you have to write titles like that at the New Yorker.  For some people, understanding is to Terrorism what PTSD can be to War.  If we just understand and explain terrorism, it might not go away, but it will get better.  If we just have the experts explain why terrorists want to kill us, or why wars happen and how badly people can be affected by them, they might not go away, but it will all get better.

This can be an exercise in reinforcing a set of beliefs about the world rather than what’s going on in the world itself.

This can have political, social and institutional consequences that don’t necessarily make the world any better.

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Meanwhile, Iranian backed Hezbollah is still active, of course:

Claudia Rosett:

‘Reports out of southern Lebanon tell us that the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah  continues to expand its network of tunnels along the border with Israel, preparing for another war. That’s not an accusation by Israeli sources, but a boast by Hezbollah, detailed in a series of recent articles in a Hezbollah-linked newspaper, As-Safir.’

Henry Kissinger & George Schulz Via The WSJ: ‘The Iran Deal And Its Consequences’Inside Everyone Is A Western Individual Waiting To Get Out?-Repost-Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’

What Reset Button? Some Russian Links With Love

Masha Gessen at The New Yorker: ‘Putin’s Russia: Don’t Walk, Don’t Eat, Don’t Drink

‘Indeed, the larger message of the Nemtsov assassination and the apparent attempted assassination of Kara-Murza is that no one is safe. Both men are sufficiently well-known to attract the attention of Russia’s dwindling oppositional minority, but neither has the superstar status that would preclude identifying with him.’

More on the Nemtsov killing: Don’t speak out.

Julia Ioffe at her site: ‘The Bizarre End To Vladimir Putin’s Bizarre Marriage:

‘An odd moment in the announcement came when Putin mentioned his confirmed children, two adult daughters whom we’ve never really seen, though there were reports in 2010 that one of them was marrying the son of a South Korean admiral.’

A reader passed along a video of Bill Browder, who made a billion, lost much of it, and got a look at Russian politics, money, and power up close.  The way he describes it:  Corruption all the way to the top.

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What goes around, comes around-An oldie but a goodie-George Kennan: ‘The Sources Of Soviet Conduct

60 Minutes had an interview with ‘Jack Barsky,‘ an East-German Soviet spy who ended up living in America.  To hell with it!

From The National Interest: ‘Inside The Mind Of George F. Kennan’,,,Eric Postner back in 2008: The Bear Is Back

I wonder if any American operatives went under deep cover to Dschingis Khan concerts to better understand the German soul and its sentimental ties to Moscow:

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Here’s Putin, back in the 80’s, meeting Reagan.  Ho hum, just a tourist, snapping some photos and meeting, how do you say, your premier.

From The Atlantic Photo: Vladimir Putin-Action Man

‘Russia needs a strong state power and must have it. But I am not calling for totalitarianism.’

Vladimir Putin

Daniel Dennett: ‘Postmodernism And Truth’

From 1998:

‘When I was a young untenured professor of philosophy, I once received a visit from a colleague from the Comparative Literature Department, an eminent and fashionable literary theorist, who wanted some help from me. I was flattered to be asked, and did my best to oblige, but the drift of his questions about various philosophical topics was strangely perplexing to me. For quite a while we were getting nowhere, until finally he managed to make clear to me what he had come for. He wanted “an epistemology,” he said. An epistemology. Every self-respecting literary theorist had to sport an epistemology that season, it seems, and without one he felt naked, so he had come to me for an epistemology to wear–it was the very next fashion, he was sure, and he wanted the dernier cri in epistemologies. It didn’t matter to him that it be sound, or defensible, or (as one might as well say) true; it just had to be new and different and stylish. Accessorize, my good fellow, or be overlooked at the party’

Worth a read.

The arts and humantities can be given a seriousness of purpose, I’m guessing, but must that purpose necessarily be scientific?

Do creative musical/artistic geniuses really need to understand particularly well how the sciences advance? How much does it matter that a theater major understands how the sciences come to say true things about the world and predict with high accuracy how nature behaves beyond a philosophy course or two?

I could be wrong.

Clearly, one problem is that out of the postmodern malaise comes the nihilism, moral relativism and general desperation where many can be found clinging to the sciences, or some standard of rationalism and reason that doesn’t seem sufficient in answering all the questions religion claims to answer.   Nor does it seem sufficient as a platform to understand human nature, history, tradition, the wisdom in our institutions, and the experience past generations can offer beyond its own presumptions.

Lots of people can thus make ideology their guide and political change their purpose, or the State their religion and their own moral failings or moral programs everyone’s moral oughts through the law and politics.

Who has the moral legitimacy to be in charge?

Also On This Site: .Repost: Larry Arnhart At Darwinian Conservatism Reviews E.O. Wilson’s ‘The Social Conquest Of Earth’

Repost-From The Access Resource Network: Phillip Johnson’s “Daniel Dennett’s Dangerous Idea’From Edge: ‘Dennett On Wieseltier V. Pinker In The New Republic’

Maybe if you’re defending religion, Nietzsche is a problematic reference: Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”Repost-Classical Liberalism Via Friesian.Com-‘Exchange with Tomaz Castello Branco on John Gray’

Addition:  If the British left, and Eagleton as somewhat representative of it, can’t sanely recognize that part of the problem is the way that Muslims seek a religious kingdom here on earth, and that there can’t be reasonable discussion of this, then…see here, where Roger Scruton suggests a return to religious virtue: From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”

See Also:  Roger Scruton In The American Spectator: The New Humanism…From Nigel Warburton’s Site: A Definition of Humanism?…From The City Journal Via Arts And Letters Daily: Andre Glucksman On “The Postmodern Financial Crisis”

Self-Driving Cars, Thomas Cole & The Wide Valley Of The Future

Curbside buses can be very cheap, much safer than vehicles, and better for the environment, but regulation can stifle competition.  Chinatown in New York City is leading the way in offering competitive rates.

I think cheap is the key factor for many riders.

So, how soon will you car be driving itself?

How long do you spend in traffic, staring ahead, inching forwards?

Are you willing to cede the freedom your vehicle provides to all the inefficiencies of public transportation?

Probably not.

***Addition: In high density areas, city buses, subways, taxis, uber, zipcar etc. all make sense, but for a large majority of Americans, not so much at the moment.

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Adam Kirsch at the New Republic on Austrian writer Stefan Zweig:

‘The profound pessimism of this view of humanity, and its implications for the liberalism that Zweig cherished, were not lost on him. Zweig’s nonfiction is today much less read than his fiction; none of it has yet been republished, though many of these books were translated into English in the 1920s and 1930s, at the height of his fame. The most significant for understanding Zweig’s political dilemma is Erasmus of Rotterdam, which he wrote in 1933, in the months after Hitler came to power, and just before he himself fled Austria’

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American painter Thomas Cole’s ‘The Course Of Empire,’ which I saw in D.C. years ago, has stuck with me.  Moral, religious, historical and natural themes abound.  He liked parables.

What to do with all this land?

Apparently he was not a fan of the Jacksonian democracy going on around him.

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Anecdote of the Jar

I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion every where.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.

Wallace Stevens

Throw something at it and see if it sticks.  I like Helen Vendler’s interpretation….

What do you do with an uncivilized, wild land?  Import European learning and literature “atop” it?

The nature/culture divide?  Nature is wonderful but it is to culture where we must return.  If you are an artist, you turn towards direct experience in this land, but…you also turn to that which inspires you…European learning and thought….the products of other cultures.