Odes to Catholicism

Though I have not been the most faithful/practicing Catholic this past year, I doubt that I will ever be able *not* to view the world through a Catholic lens. (You can purchase that spiritually advantageous optic tool at AmazonPenanceontheFewnessoftheSavedStLiguoriStLeonard.com.)  Thus, anything I write, I write with the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart hovering longingly and lovingly over me. Whether I still pray it or not, the royal Rosary call still rings in my ears like the clarion Catholic call that it is: urgent and melancholy and forthright, but surprisingly comforting and satisfying. If you have never prayed it, try it. Come on–try it.

I would rather go atheist (as much as I despise the atheist-Dawkins-Hitchens-circle-jerk-arrogance) than go Protestant again. Protestants function as the denominational version of Internet trolls. Yes, you kingdom of God bitches, I said that: they are satire and sarcasm, but no substance. In other words, they are only reactionary, and they possess nothing that will allow them to establish a lingering plan–a culture, a civilization. Protestantism (Inc.) does not require much of its followers: no days of obligation, no mandatory yearly confession, no mandatory yearly fasting, etc. For example, what sacrifice is there in becoming a Protestant minister if one can still marry (and have sexy sextytime sex), raise children, and drive BMWs (e.g., black preachers)? Fucking none. AmIright? You know it. High five.

What’s happenin’? …Several years ago, the lead singer of the Cranberries, Dolores O’Riordan (Dolores=pains–what a Catholic name 😉 ), caused quite a stink because she actually opposed, in Rolling Stone of all places,  the murder of babies in the womb. Their video, “Ode to My Family,” is a musical catechism. The pubs are family affairs (as opposed to being the provenance of the drunken young), the children are plentiful and dirty, and the old men are nostalgic and tipsy. Catholic paradise if you ask me.

(All I am saying is that if I ever get my life in order, I am having as many children as I can to recommend to the the priesthood and nunnery.  They will be fucking vicious servants of the Lord. [Cuck Catholics wept.])

Ask me. Watch this video:

(Edited to add: spelling corrections. Ha, this is what y’all get when I drunkenly post.)

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Where There’s a Way, There’s a Will

In the January 2017 issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture (the best damn written and thought-provoking monthly magazine one will find between the Pacific and the Atlantic), editor Chilton Williamson, Jr. writes, “My own opinion is that what turned this election year inside out, the greatest single contributor to the chaotic political atmosphere, are digital media, from the largest and most expensive systems down to the individual iPhones carried by an estimated 94 million Americans, or one quarter of the population” (6). The gist of the particular editorial blurb from which that quotation has been taken is not political but sociological: technology fuels our incessant but vapid desire to communicate, not the converse of that statement. In this case, it may very well have determined an election. (Key voter: the meme.)

Mr. Williamson refers to the thought of the Southern Agrarians, and, by implication, their bucky magisterial work I’ll Take My Stand, in which they rail against the overriding preoccupation with means without any regard to ends. In tracing  in order to critique the philosophy of progress, Lyle H. Lanier writes in my 1962 edition, “The industrial technology is an important agency through which these desiderata [metaphysical rendering of communism] could be realized, for it facilitates commerce and exchange of ideas; it breaks down feudal intellectual barriers, class distinctions and traditions” (emphasis his, 138). One need not go the whole socially-stratified hog with Mr. Lanier to admit that technology, primarily Internet-oriented technology, has facilitated the exchange of ideas among peoples of different classes and abilities and stations in life to a degree unprecedented. Given that anybody can communicate, everybody, it would seem, does communicate whether or not he/she has something worthwhile to say. Granted, people, being the chatty things that they are, have never let a lack of content stand in the way of a statement or conversation. In fact, among the most charming conversations one can have are those that are truly about nothing, understanding, as Mr. O’Connor would remind us, that there is often mystery behind the manners. (Let the reader be made to understand.) However, what we now have is a truly universal mechanism (Can one properly call the Internet a “mechanism”?) through which to broadcast our opinions, and now that we can, we must have opinions about any and every matter and event that comes across our TV, computer, and *smart* phone screens.

I am fully aware of the irony of an occasional blogger fustigating the Internet. This reminds me of one of Walker Percy’s essays in which he scathingly writes (as if he wrote any other way) about the counter-revolutionary who will rail against modernity, yet be the first one to make use of penicillin if his well being requires it. Still, just because I have to use a car does not mean that I cannot criticize a frenetic and destructive way of life that is centered upon cars, not people. I also am reminded of something that another Southern Agrarian Allen Tate once wrote. In a collection of his work entitled Essays of Four Decades, he writes,  “Communication that is not also communion is incomplete. We use communication; we participate in communion” (emphasis his, 9). Technology has multiplied the means by which we can communicate, and we take full advantage of this. Perhaps, ultimately, for the better. Yet, mere communication will not satisfy any more than satire or dank memes do. What we truly desire is communion with one another and with something greater than ourselves, a communion that nourishes and inspires–not a communication that only amuses us to death.

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Exhibitionist Exercise

Intrigued by the title, I recently purchased Mark Greif’s Against Everything–a collection of contrarian essays. In his first essay, “Against Exercise,” he makes the case that the rise in gym rats bears a negative correlation to the decrease of civic activity. He lays down the following premise, which strikes me as sound:

A hidden sphere, free from scrutiny, makes the foundation for a public person–someone sure enough in his privacy to take the drastic risks of public life, to think, to speak against the others’ wills, to choose with utter independence. In privacy, alone with one’s family, the dominating necessity and speechless appetites can be gratified in the nonthought and ache of staying alive.

In order for a person to prepare for the inevitable opposition that he will face in the public arena, regardless of what stance he takes, he needs a true safe space in which he can broadcast his fears, hopes, beliefs, dreams, disappointments, etc. without the fear of media-like scrutiny and critique.  The understanding, as in the ancient Greek understanding, of citizenship is that we will, after sufficient domestic refreshment, fulfill our civic duties and suffer what we must in order to participate properly in the public sphere. However, given the growing trend of disassociation and given the shrinking levels of social trust, we are more likely to turn inward and antisocial. (This essay was published in 2004, before the smart phone virus and all its related social oblivion-creating effects reached the epidemic level. Reading it now is comparable to returning to watch the first episode of The Walking Dead, knowing where it leads.)   

Where does gym membership then come into play? Greif makes the following connection:

[T]he true payoff of a society that chooses to make private freedoms and private leisures its main substance has been much more unexpected. This payoff is a set of forms of bodily self-regulation that drag the last vestiges of biological life into the light as a social attraction.

Whereas before men like Cicero took bold public stands and gave thrilling speeches that would be the imaginative fodder for young Southern men hundreds of years later, we, not able to muster up either the will or the eloquence of someone like Cicero, do what we can: publicly display primal biological functions. As a result, “[a]ction in public before strangers and acquaintances loses its center of gravity in the lived experience of the citizen and is replaced by the activity of exercise in public, as speech gives way to biological spectacle.” We are no longer citizens concerned for the civic body; rather, we are individuals who care for our own physical bodies–yet still yearn for the importance that only a public acknowledgement can confer upon an action.

As someone who had been able to resist gym membership until about a year ago, I find this essay engaging and thought-provoking, but not totally convincing. While I signed up initially because a membership would give me access to heavy weights and jiu-jitsu and combat knife classes, I have noticed–and so have others!–since then very pleasing changes to my body and will continue my membership for, if for no other reason, vanity purposes. Though I am no longer as civic-minded as I once was, I do not think that any lingering desire to return to a fuller participation in my community played a significant role in my acquiring a gym membership, nor can I say that my sweating in front of the same core twenty to thirty dudes acts as a surrogate for more meaningful public interaction. Perhaps, though, that is because I have experienced, through church, different groups, and even my job as a teacher, what robust community involvement requires and feels like; I know that publically-displayed squats or deadlifts cannot compete–or substitute. However, for those who have never truly tested themselves in the public square, perhaps pumping iron may serve as the only way they can test their mettle.

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The Setting Beliefs

In Japan’s chronically suicidal (and, in 1948, eventually successful) Osamu Dazai’s slowly-burning melancholic The Setting Sun, aristocrat-in-spite-of-himself, Naoji, tells his sister, Kazuko, that they are “[v]ictims of a transitional morality.” However, given the circumstances that have led to their victimhood, he can confidently confess that “[i]n this present world, the most beautiful thing is a victim.”  Set in early postwar Japan, these siblings, along with their mother, struggle to come to terms with the ideologically-violent social transition that has left few options for impecunious aristocrats other than to engage in perceived plebeian debauchery or to resign oneself to a dignifying death.

Ever since I finished this novel a few weeks ago while sitting on my back porch listening to a summer rainstorm [That particular detail seems pertinent for reasons only inchoately known to me], I have had the elegant spectres of these characters haunting my mental hallways, attic, and basement. As enduring literature resists containment to both time and space, ghosts of literary merit tend to wander freely across regional and periodic boundaries as well. Though the majority of William Alexander Percy’s life was spent in the Mississippi Delta, his influence, much like Will Percy himself when he was a young man, has traveled far beyond  “The Most Southern Place on Earth.”

In the introduction to Will Percy’s Lanterns on the Levee (though non-fictional, unlike The Setting Sun, like it one reads about the melancholic displacement of those caught in a time of transitional morality), his nephew and writer, Walker Percy, contrasts his uncle’s adopted Stoic vision to the Catholic one that Will left behind as a child but one that Walker would adopt later in life as an adult.  In describing this contrast, Walker writes:

While granting the prescience of much of Lanterns on the Levee’s pessimism, we must, I think guard against a certain seductiveness which always attends the heralding of apocalypse, and we must not overlook some far less dramatic but perhaps equally significant counterforces. Yes, Will Percy’s indictment of modern life has seemed to be confirmed by the holocaust of the 1940s and by American political and social morality in the 1970s. But what would he make of some very homely, yet surely unprecedented social gains which have come to pass during the same terrible times? To give the plainest examples: that for the first time in history a poor boy, black or white, has a chance to get an education, become what he wants to become, doctor, lawyer, even read Lanterns on the Levee and write poetry of his own, and that not a few young men, black and white, have done just that? Also, that for the first time in history a working man earns a living wage and can support his family in dignity. How do these solid social gains square with pronouncements of decline and fall?  

Walker wrote his introduction in 1973. Will’s work was first published in 1941. All any of us can do, based upon some degree of historical knowledge and a fundamental understanding of human nature and a willingness to call life as we see it, is chart where things currently stand and make predictions to the best of our abilities. Most of us probably will not have the luxury to see our predictions vindicated–or the opportunity for mortification if they should fall short of the reification mark. I suppose that it is for the best either way. [I must say, though, back in 2005 when I was working in the kitchen of Red Lobster–What else does one do with a master’s in philosophy? –I was raving about the coming dissipation of the US based upon a loss of social cohesion, idiotic military adventures in the Middle East, and a burgeoning astronomical deficit. Gee–who is now very likely to be elected on that platform? Petty as it now may seem, I will gladly take all those “You’re unpatriotic–don’t you believe in America?!” comments in regard to my opposition to the US’s immoral and delusional warmongering in the Middle East and gleefully say that I told you so. Well, gleefully if we were not talking about the destruction of Christianity in the Middle East and the non-refugee immigrant/terrorist/rapist invasion of Europe–along with its attendant displacement of native white populations and local cultures. //Rant finished//] However, based upon what I think I know and what I think I see, Will’s measured pessimism seems more vindicated than Walker’s cautious optimism. In other words, decline and fall. Yes, civil rights have come a long way since the 40s. However, what do we see now in the US? A racial utopia characterized not only by a rainbow-colored playing field of equal opportunity but also by a leveling of achievement among the harmoniously-living races? Like one of those gleefully post-racial  BBQ pictures in a JC Penney’s Memorial Day Sales catalog? How about the knockout game and an incipient race war. Yes, women now, despite the persistent myth to the contrary, make as much as men and can support themselves and their families. The result? Women, by and large, are just as unhappy as their wage-slave male counterparts, and the largely-manufactured tension between the sexes only seems to have reached an all-time high. Granted, I suppose that in theory climbing the economic ladder is still possible in the US, but according to this wage calculator from MIT, if a man in Mississippi (a state-by most reckonings, I would presume–in which it is not very expensive to live and my home state as well) wanted his wife to stay home with their, let us say, three children, he would need to make at least $25.32 an hour. How many people do you know anywhere who are making this?  In particular, what jobs in Mississippi–and how many of them–give workers hope that they, if they can keep their noses to the grindstone, can and will achieve this wage? Also, in the meantime, what about that wife and three children? Furthermore, most of us have yet to begin considering what is going to happen to most people–skilled and unskilled–as automation begins to replace them. Oh, but you should, dear reader, you should.

I suppose that I can go on, but if I make a habit of always composing long blog entries, then I will be even less inclined than I currently am to post regularly. I wish that I could honestly say that I still had–at least in any significant way–the Christian virtue of hope concerning our species and where we are headed. I do not. Let us say that my morality is currently in transition. While I do not think that it would be entirely accurate to say that I have abandoned the Faith, my Christian beliefs have begun to wane, and I am finding more solace than I ever thought that I would in Stoic bullheadedness. Decline and fall. Yes, the sun is setting, but there is still much that can be done before the coming darkness. Why? Perhaps is there is no truly satisfying answer–some will, some will not. Yet, in a world that seems to be increasingly populated by those who will not, those who still will seem to coming to their own personal Naoji’s dilemma.

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This Is It, Right?

Having been raised the way I was, I often find myself thinking that something has value only if it has an obvious eternal correlation, yet perhaps a moment has supreme significance simply because of its fleeting temporality.

I am led to think of this song from the greatest TV show: Northern Exposure. (What other show will you ever, for example, see an argument between a Lutheran lay person [consubstantiation] and a Catholic priest [transubstantiation] while arm wrestling? Nowhere.) Anyway, this was the series finale closing song; it captures everything:

 

 

 

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White Student Quota: It’s for the (Black) Children

In this gleefully subversive thought experiment, Steve Sailer proposes that it would be in the best interest of children from low socio-economic, err, family situations (read: non-East Asian/non-Jewish minorities), if schools maintained a quota for white students, and, as such, this should be a  cause célèbre championed by liberals. But why? He refers to a recent post by  Washington PissPost, Post— reporter Emily Badger in which she begins by concluding the following:

Wealthy parents are famously pouring more and more into their children, widening the gap in who has access to piano lessons and math tutors and French language camp. The biggest investment the rich can make in their kids, though — one with equally profound consequences for the poor — has less to do with “enrichment” than real estate.

They can buy their children pricey homes in nice neighborhoods with good school districts.

In other words, according to Sailer, “the worst problem with being poor in today’s America is not that you can’t afford to buy enough food, it’s that you can’t afford to get away from other poor people.” Being poor leaves one with very  few options but to remain surrounded by those who are also indigent. Though the Internet, as in so many other ways, may act a game changer in this regard, those who remain in economically depressed environments remain in environments where most are more concerned with hustling and “getting theirs” than with cultural enrichment and personal development. (If anyone thinks that I am relying far too heavily on materialistic premises, spend just an hour tutoring inner-city youth, asking them, while you are there, to describe their home lives and then get back to me. Of course, as with racial explanations, one can wrongly view environmental explanations as the key to unlock any door of inquiry, but I digress….)

This makes sense, as cruel as it must be for those who have very little recourse to individuals or groups outside their social purview. Looking at my own undergraduate private university experience, I see how I benefited from meeting people my age who came from families who had exposed them to philosophical investigations and to fine arts performances and to theological discussions. Not to say that such exposure was totally absent from my upbringing, but those newly secured peers challenged me in ways that I had not been challenged previously–and in ways that I would not have been challenged, most likely, had I stayed in my neighborhood or had I attended a state university, as I had originally wanted to do. (I was also initiated into the art of heavy drinking, but with class.) Though my parents may not have articulated this, I am sure that this projected exposure to higher levels of, well, society played a role in their insistence that I attend a private university.

Going back to the Post article:

“Forty to fifty years of social-science research tells us what an important context neighborhoods are, so buying a neighborhood is probably one of the most important things you can do for your kid,” says Ann Owens, a sociologist at the University of Southern California. “There’s mixed evidence on whether buying all this other stuff matters, to0. But buying a neighborhood basically provides huge advantages.”

As important as neighborhoods are, though, the rub is this: given that school district eligibility is factored into housing costs, the better the school district, understandably, the greater the mortgage, thus creating, as is pointed out in the Badger piece, severely economically segregated (and, I would wager, racially segregated) communities. However, if a minimum white quota (and let us thrown in an East Asian and a Jewish one for kicks) were required in each school district, this might contribute to an equalizing of housing prices.

Sailer, however, as he is wont to do, notes the following challenge: “Of course, there isn’t much evidence that the kind of progressive education techniques that liberal white school districts like are good for blacks. Blacks seem to do best in KIPP-style boot camp schools with strict discipline and back to basic fundamentals. But not a lot of highly educated whites want to send their 1.6 children to KIPP charters.”

Well, shucks.

 

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Taxes or Not, Automation Cometh

Ramzpaul has suffered a hard time as of late. Through regular video releases on his YouTube channel over the past few years, his race-realist confessions, nationalistic views, Heartiste-inspired critiques on modern sexual relations, and criticisms of Israel have made him an anathema to the neo-conservatives who dominate the major media outlets and who might otherwise find in him a co-belligerent in many cultural and political battles. According to such outlets, however, anything he says can be disregarded and discarded because he belongs to the demonic alt-right, a Luciferian assembly who, as the accusations go, worship at the altar of racism, sexism, and antisemitism. Whatever–such quivering conservatives have been dismissed by the alt-right as cuckservatives, conservatives-in-name-only who care more about popularity and power than principles. Many in the alt-right, though, consider Ramzpaul a sell-out, for he is on friendly terms with Asians (even finds Asian women romantically viable) and has taken photos with Jews. He has even found the gall to befriend a pick-up-artist-turned-cultural-commentator of Iranian descent (Roosh) and to criticize the goons of assorted (and they are; there is no unity) 14/88 groups. This only shows that the alt-right is just as prone to excommunicate those deemed impure in doctrine as the most zealous cultural-Marxist outfit.

Personally, I think Ramzpaul has merely shown that he thinks for himself–a dangerous habit regardless of one’s ideological preference.

In this recent video, Ramzpaul argues against taxing the 45% of Americans who do not pay federal income taxes. While those in the upper income brackets starting with the top 20 percentile pay a disproportionate amount of all federal taxes, the amount of federal taxes that these people pay does not dramatically affect their lifestyles. They still have it good. In other words, while those in such brackets may not appreciate having to shoulder such an asymmetrical burden, they  do not have to worry about not being able to pay for their children’s shoes or food for their families as a result. This, according to Ramzpaul, cannot be said about the 45% who pay no federal income tax. Were they to be taxed, very drastic sacrifices would have to be made. While this is all food for thought (if you can still afford it), the most interesting points made in this video concern automation and robotics. He rightly notes that commentariats on neither left nor the right are talking about the *guaranteed* displacement of laborers through advances in automation and robotics that is coming.  According to Martin Ford, a founder of a Silicon Valley software development firm, in his The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, the displacement will not devastate only skill-less/low-skilled/industrially-trained workers, but it will also include a large number of white collar jobs as well: lawyers, doctors, teachers, etc. Ramzpaul’s position is for the institution of a guaranteed income, one that will keep those who no longer are employable from starving and/or, as I would add, rioting–rioting that would probably pit humans against robots who need not fear the pains of desperation.

 

 

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