“7. What is meant by enthusiasm. This I take to be properly enthusiasm, which, though founded neither on reason nor divine revelation, but rising from the conceits of a warmed or overweening brain, works yet, where it once gets footing, more powerfully on the persuasions and actions of men than either of those two, or both together: men being most forwardly obedient to the impulses they receive from themselves; and the whole man is sure to act more vigorously where the whole man is carried by a natural motion. For strong conceit, like a new principle, carries all easily with it, when got above common sense, and freed from all restraint of reason and check of reflection, it is heightened into a divine authority, in concurrence with our own temper and inclination.”
Fall was in the air today. Photo here.
The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.
The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.
Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.
But now they drift on the still water,
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?
‘I keep hearing about a supposed “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment, or statements such as, “This isn’t free speech, it’s hate speech,” or “When does free speech stop and hate speech begin?” But there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment. Hateful ideas (whatever exactly that might mean) are just as protected under the First Amendment as other ideas.‘
The folks at Charlie Hebdo didn’t find the PEN ‘activists’ much to think about.
Michael Moynihan has been keeping an eye on some people so you don’t have to. The 1st amendment is pretty basic, people.
Even Walter Kirn got in on the action:
He touched on Lionel Trilling’s work and his influence on the mid 20th century American novel:
‘Trilling wrote that in 1948, at the dawn of the cold war, and for many years his literary prescription seemed a misfire—the fault, in all likelihood, of his own embroilment in the ideological soul-searching of his generation: the 1930s radicals who were drawn to communism but later discovered the facts of the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin. This disillusionment informed Trilling’s own novel about ideological conflict, The Middle of the Journey (1947), a stab toward the new fiction he had in mind. It is sensible and sensitive, but more cultural seminar than work of imagination. The “issues” it dissects—the delusions of fellow travelers, the shallowness of the modern liberal when forced to confront the depth and reach of Soviet crimes, the progressive belief in the future that rested on an almost childlike denial of death—felt bloodless and beside the point at a time when the developing story was no longer the false lure of communism but the blazing forth of the affluent society.’
Worth a read. Drop a line if you’ve read Franzen’s work.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, perhaps that post-WWII corporatist model of big companies and big government tied together, knotted with the help an arguably more religiously traditional cultural fabric (married with kids younger, company men, wives at home) is not coming back, or at least in drastic need of a remodel, according to Walter Russell Mead.
The Cold War is over, though a kleptocratic, ex-KGB run Russian State is causing enough problems right now.
Times have changed.
The 60’s happened, along with the radicalism of the New Left gaining traction in many American universities and arguably a more vigorous individualism and tendency towards social liberalism/libertarianism culture-wide.
It would seem defenders of religious liberties may no longer have a majority stake in ‘the culture,’ or may at least come to find themselves grateful for constitutionally protected liberties.
Add competitive global labor markets to disturb the remnants of the New Deal and the Big Firm landscape (bad healthcare incentives, underfunded pension liabilities and social programs), along with rapid technological change and there’s a lot going on in American life.
How are such changes being reflected in the novel? Are novelists reflecting your inner life faithfully enough to be worth reading?
Megan McArdle revisited Jonathan Haidt: ‘Liberals Can’t Admit To Thinking Like Conservatives‘
‘I’m an enormous fan of Jonathan Haidt’s work. Nonetheless, I’ve always had two outstanding questions about it (and would note that these are not exactly questions of which Professor Haidt is unaware).’
Check out Larry Arnhart, at Darwinian Conservatism, on Jonathan Haidt:
‘The most revealing comment from the Wall Street Journal interview is his praise for Thomas Sowell’s Conflict of Visions, in which Sowell elaborates Friedrich Hayek’s distinction between the “constrained vision” of the British tradition and the “unconstrained vision” of the French tradition. The constrained or realist vision of human nature is the vision of classical liberalism (Adam Smith) or traditionalist conservatism (Edmund Burke). “Again, as a moral psychologist,” Haidt says, “I had to say the constrained vision is correct.” The evolutionary support for the constrained vision is one of the major themes of my Darwinian Conservatism.’
‘The imprecise terminology of liberalism, conservatism, and libertarianism is also confusing. From my reading of Haidt’s book, he is implicitly embracing a liberal conservatism, or what people like Frank Meyer defended as a fusion of classical liberalism and traditionalist conservatism. (Haidt mentions fusionism briefly in his paper on libertarianism.) Crucial for this fusion is the distinction between state and society. The end for a free state is liberty. The end for a free society is virtue. Political liberty provides the conditions for people to pursue virtue in civil society through the natural and voluntary associations of life. Classical liberals or libertarians rightly emphasize political liberty. Traditionalist conservatives rightly emphasize social virtue. Political liberty provides the liberal tolerance by which people are free to pursue their moral visions within whatever moral community they join, as long as they do not violate the equal liberty of all others to live their moral lives as they choose.‘
‘This is, I think, implicit in Haidt’s book, but he never makes it explicit, because he never clearly makes the crucial distinction between state and society, political liberty and social virtue.’
From a reader: ‘The Rationalist Delusion In Politics:’
Communist corner: I remember reading a piece at the NY Times about Trotsky’s great-grandaughter, the neuroscientist Nora Volkow:
‘Dr. Volkow generally forswears any interest in politics per se, but midway through a long day of meetings last month she sighed and acknowledged, “science and politics are intertwined.” We think we have free will, she continued, but we are foiled at every turn. First our biology conspires against us with brains that are hard-wired to increase pleasure and decrease pain. Meanwhile, we are so gregarious that social systems — whether you call them peer pressure or politics — reliably dwarf us as individuals. “There is no way you can escape.”
As for a critique of Albany Plaza, another modernist/bureaucratic concrete wonderland, here’s Robert Hughes:
As for the 60’s, how about Pete Seeger’s lifelong Communism?:
‘Seeger never really did abandon the dream of communism, despite the inconvenient fact that it had long since (starting around 1918) transformed into a pitiful nightmare. So it was unsurprising that in 1995 he would provide an effusive blurb for a book of poetry written by Tomas Borge, the brutal secret police chief and interior minister of Sandinista Nicaragua (“An extraordinary collection of poems and prose”).’
See Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic: That Party At Lenny’s… for a rich account of the times
Related On This Site: A Few Thoughts On NPR And Current Liberal Establishment Thinking Under ObamaFrom FIRE.org-’Federal Government Mandates Unconstitutional Speech Codes At Colleges And Universities Nationwide’Greg Lukianoff At FIRE.Org: ‘Emily Bazelon And The Danger Of Bringing “Anti-Bullying” Laws To Campus’
For what it’s worth, in my travels, I often find people who believe ‘inequality’ to be a social or moral harm, to also find ‘equality’ to be a social and moral good, and I’m curious as to how they arrived at such a position.
What does ‘equality’ mean, exactly?
In my experience, people can be wildly unequal in terms of physical and mental abilities, innate capacities and learned skills, life experiences, love and relationship goals, drive and ambition, and of course, pure luck.
We’ve all had some good times, some hard times, some things we’ve fought hard for, sacrificed for, and made a central part of our lives.
Am I gonna make it? How can I be better to someone I love? Is what I’m doing with my time worthwhile?
I generally agree with equality under the law as far as the equality of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ goes, but once I start to hear ‘equality’ as an abstract list of ‘rights’, human and otherwise, I find myself occupying a position of skepticism and doubt.
How much equality is enough, exactly?
‘Over 11 percent of Americans will be among the top 1 percent of income-earners (people making a minimum of $332,000 per year) for at least one year in their lives. 94 percent of the Americans who join the top 1 percent group will keep that status for only one year.’
It seems to me that economic mobility and opportunity is one of the greatest strengths and cherished inheritances we share as Americans.
We don’t have to build around the ruins of monarchy, aristocracy, feudal landownership and fixed classes as found in most of Old Europe. Our founders set us on a glide-path out of such constraints, with a lot of foresight and wisdom.
‘Moreover, the factors that explain higher household incomes among Americans are not fixed over a lifetime, and they are to some degree a matter of personal decisions, which means that people are not forced to remain in one income bracket for their whole lives. American households with higher than average incomes tend to be households where the members are well-educated, in their prime earning years (between the ages of 35 and 64), working full-time, and are in stable marriages. Households with lower than average incomes tend to be households where the members are less-educated, outside their prime earning years, unemployed or working only part-time, and they are likely to be unmarried.’
Among other interesting thoughts, there’s this:
‘…there is the basic truth that technology and globalization give greater scope to those with extraordinary entrepreneurial ability, luck, or managerial skill. Think about the contrast between George Eastman, who pioneered fundamental innovations in photography, and Steve Jobs. Jobs had an immediate global market, and the immediate capacity to implement his innovations at very low cost, so he was able to capture a far larger share of their value than Eastman. Correspondingly, while Eastman’s innovations and their dissemination through the Eastman Kodak Co. provided a foundation for a prosperous middle class in Rochester for generations, no comparable impact has been created by Jobs’s innovations’
Addition: Richard Epstein-Piketty’s Rickety Economics.
Martin Feldstein at the WSJ (behind a paywall)-Piketty’s Numbers Don’t Add Up.
Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar Man…From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’
Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working. Check out his series at The American Interest. Technology is changing things rapidly, and maybe, as Charles Murray points out, it’s skewing the field toward high IQ positions while simultaneously getting rid of industrial, managerial, clerical, labor intensive office jobs. Even so, we can’t cling to the past. This is quite a progressive vision but one that embraces change boldly. Repost-Via Youtube: Conversations With History – Walter Russell Mead
Having used every subterfuge
To shake you, lies, fatigue, or even that of passion,
Now I see no way but a clean break.
I add that I am willing to bear the guilt.
You nod assent. Autumn turns windy, huge,
A clear vase of dry leaves vibrating on and on.
We sit, watching. When I next speak
Love buries itself in me, up to the hilt.
It’s always a pleasure to observe someone with deep understanding explain a subject clearly.
There’s some interesting discussion on modernism and postmodernism too, or the tendency for the ‘moderns’ to focus on language itself as a problem to be re-examined and possibly solved, or the study of linguistics to be put upon a foundation similar to that of many sciences.
As we’ve seen in the arts, the poem, a novel, the very written words themselves can become subjects which poets, novelists, and writers examine, doubt, and in some cases ‘deconstruct.’
As previously posted: Paul Ibbotson & Michael Tomasello at Scientific American: ‘Evidence Rebuts Chomsky’s Theory Of Language Learning:’
‘But evidence has overtaken Chomsky’s theory, which has been inching toward a slow death for years. It is dying so slowly because, as physicist Max Planck once noted, older scholars tend to hang on to the old ways: “Science progresses one funeral at a time.”
Worth a read.
“Noam Chomsky: The Last Totalitarian”The Politics Of Noam Chomsky-The Dangers Of Kantian Transcendental Idealism?
Those people with whom you disagree, do you kill them?
‘A prominent Jordanian writer was shot dead Sunday on the steps of a court where he was facing charges for sharing an anti-Islam cartoon on Facebook.
Nahed Hattar was struck by three bullets before the alleged assassin was arrested at the scene of the shooting in Amman’s central Abdali district, said the official Petra news agency.’
‘Hattar was a political commentator known for his antipathy towards Islamists including Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood and also his support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.’
Back to Yale with Christopher Hitchens:
Old news I know, but it seems that the Yale Press was genuinely afraid that publishing this book could potentially lead to violence, and that they are responsible for the consequences of such potential violence.
“…Yale had consulted a range of experts before making its decision and that “[a]ll confirmed that the republication of the cartoons by the Yale University Press ran a serious risk of instigating violence.”
If you thought the cartoons were bad, more on the Fitna movie here. From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West” Libertarians love this issue: Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant