Essays on Culture
(Always under construction)
The Sound of Music
Of Mice and Men
De Mortuis Nihil Nisi Bonum
The Big Mouths of Our Public Apes
The Urine Drinkers
Men With Guns
There has been a recent spate of things written here, there and everywhere about real boys and real men. It is a reaction to the feminization of the male that has infected American culture. These days boys are to be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and drugged into stupor and men are to be taught to cry in public at the whim of any female. Violence of any kind is to be roundly condemned and we are told that the only thing worth studying in college is Peace Studies with a minor in Lesbian Poetry.
Real men---military guys, cowboys, meat eaters, gun owners and whiskey drinkers---are to be substituted with metrosexual-men---queer eyes for straight guys, public pouters, vegetarians, Chablis drinkers, lisping and swishy sorts and Oprah watchers.
Here is a new list from Popular Mechanics.
Before any males start to cry and lament their supposed lack of the manly arts, they need to remember that these sorts of lists are geared to the times. They no more apply to all men in all ages than do trends in male sartorial elegance. Consider the greatest society of men that ever existed, the Roman Republic (509 – 30 BC).
Here indeed was a men’s club of men’s clubs, any member of which would put to shame most of today’s mincing and prancing delicate little dandies whose claim to maleness rests solely upon the possession of a penis. So few Roman men could perform those things above, yet they brought the entire ancient world under their thumb.
Here is a list of things every Roman male over the age of 18 needed to know in 100 BC.
Not too shabby, all things considered. And who among us outside of the US Marines can do many of these today?
A list of what a real man needs to know should be tied to the nature of ‘maleness,’ an immutable thing which has not changed since Cain clobbered Abel. We men are simple creatures, and whatever things we absolutely and positively must know needs to be arranged around our nature, which is---and ladies, please take notes---based on the following:
We are naturally aggressive, competitive and violent. Any sort of gooey, multicultural and PC pap that tries to remove such behavior will only ruin the lives of those poor males who are forced to undergo such idiocy as non-competitive ‘sports’ and ‘transgender’ training. A male adapted to such feminist propaganda is scarcely qualified to fornicate, yet alone act like a man.
We like noisy stuff---guns and NASCAR and Bruce Willis movies.
We like to protect stuff---our homes, our women, our children and our nation. Even the most degraded lesbian, if her neighborhood is invaded by 100,000 Chinese soldiers, would rather be defended by a bunch of Oklahoma boys than by the questionable males who inhabit San Francisco and New York.
We respond to words like Honor, Loyalty and Duty. We don’t really get Chastity too well, but here is where real women are needed to teach it to us. We can learn it if you ladies are patient.
We react to fleshy things like food and sex. You ladies, while courting us, should encourage one part of our flesh---the food part---and deny us the other---the sex part---until we marry you. Most modern ‘Sex and the City’ women get this exactly backwards. These poor females end up as well-used and well-divorced skanks, lonely and empty wombed.
We need to be in the wilds with other real men from time to time. Thus our habit of taking trucks, buddies, six-packs and guns into the woods. Do not try and deny this to us. If we did not do this you would love us less---or not at all.
But all of this can really be boiled down to a single sentence. It was spoken by the most complete Man who ever lived. His advice on masculinity was simple:
Everything else is extra credit.
(Hat tip: Sippican Cottage.)
(Update: And since I brought it up, here---in no particular order of importance---is my own list.)
A man should know how to:
I can do all the above, but only a great fool will trust me with hammer, saw and drill.
Like every man my age I had a little record player as a lad. I would listen to the ‘top 40’ an the AM radio and do my best to buy the 45 rpm records when they came out. When money permitted I bought as many 33 rpms as I could.
My mother had a collection of classical music albums. From time to time she would play them on my record player. All the usual ‘long hairs’---classical music was called ‘long hair music’ back then---became part of my repertoire.
When I was out of the Air Force in 1975 I had saved up enough money to buy a fine stereo system to play my growing collection of records. It was my first introduction to what is still, 32 years later, an addiction.
Like every esoteric hobby the world of expensive sound reproducing equipment has its own vocabulary, the use of which identifies you with the tribe. ‘Stereo’ is out. Better is ‘high-end audio.’ ‘Music lover’ is out. Better is ‘audiophile.’ ‘Record player’ is out. Audiophiles say ‘turntable.’ There is more, but you get the idea.
The goal of an audiophile is to recreate as much as possible the experience of live music in his home. We tend to forget but for 6500 years all music was live. The wealthy of history would usually have an orchestra on the payroll just as they had butlers and cleaners and maids. Mozart, Bach and Handel had all served wealthy patrons.
It has been only 50 years that the common man could bring pre-recorded music into his home. In the 1950s sound reproduction began to follow two paths, one for consumers and the other for audiophiles. The consumer stereos were very reasonably priced, as befitting a consumer culture. But the audiophile systems had no limit on price and quality. Think Oldsmobile and BMW.
Once one entered the world of high-end audio he quickly realized that everything he knew about listening to music was wrong. Music was not to serve as background, it was to be listened to. As much as his resources allowed an audiophile was expected to have a room just for his music. He would go there only for the express purpose of listening. Furniture and wall coverings were arranged to maximize the reproduction of sound. He was expected to become familiar with technical phrases like ‘imaging’ and ‘sound staging.’ He came to understand words like ‘reference’ and ‘musicality.’
All of this was hideously expensive of course. All hobbies are once one really gets into them. In today’s prices a beginning high-end system would cost $2000. And that is bear bones, entry level simple stuff. And there is really no upper limit. My dream system comes in at a shade under $100,000. Audiophiles commonly invest---that is the proper word---$30,000 in their systems. My current system has cost me around $10,000.
Of what does such a thing consist? We must first get rid of the idea that a system is one or two boxes and a set of cone speakers. No, that will never do. An audiophile system is broken up into pieces. There is nothing called a ‘receiver’---something that has an amplifier, a pre-amplifier and a radio. All parts of an audiophile system are separate. The amplifier is only that. Sometimes a real nut---me, for example---will have two amplifiers, one for each speaker. The pre-amplifier will be (of course) separate from the amp. It will have no tone controls or equalizers---these are anathema! The idea of reproducing sound is to have as little in the way of the music as possible. Anything that disturbs this distorts and confuses the signal.
How does an audiophile connect all of these? Easy answer: As expensively as he can. Cables have become an industry in themselves. These cost anywhere from $10 a foot to $500 a foot---and up. The idea of cables is to allow the signal to zip through them with as little loss to musicality as possible. This means money---lots of it. I use Kimber cables throughout, the total cost being around $600.
So now we have an amp, a pre-amp and cables. Something missing? Why yes, there is---a source. This is either a CD or a record---referred to from here on as ‘vinyl.’ So allow me to shock you. No audiophile will refer to CDs as high-end audio. Sorry to disappoint, but CDs are really consumer stuff. They take the analogue signal---all those wild markings you see on an oscilloscope---and digitalize them. In other words, an unnecessary layer of distortion has been forced between the pure source and your ears.
But that is not all. Once digitalized the signal must be decoded so that you can hear it---more distortion. Every CD player has two parts, a reader---that thing that spins the laser---and a DAC---a digital-analogue converter. Some crazy audiophiles---me for instance---actually have the CD player broken up into two boxes, the reader and the DAC. (Yes, I know that CDs are not really an audiophile source, but I have one anyway---and a rather expensive one, thank you very much.)
Here is an example of a high-end CD player, the NAD M5 CD SACD.
And what of vinyl? Ready for some heresy against the common opinions of mankind? Vinyl is far and away superior to CDs. Period. End of debate. (One writer exactly described CDs as 'perfect imperfection,' and vinyl as 'imperfect perfection.') The reason is that vinyl is analogue---a ‘copy.’ In the grooves of a record are carved the exact shape of the sound waves your ears pick up. What you hear is what you get.
How do we get the sound out of those grooves? Easy answer: We spend money. Lots of it. The more money you spend the better able is the turntable to extract the sound from those grooves. Here is an example of an audiophile turntable.
It is a Sumiko model 30. It will set you back $29,000. You read that right---twenty-nine thousand dollars. And that does not include the cartridge, that little thing dangling at the end of the tonearm. That will cost you another $1000. The job of the cartridge is to follow those little grooves exactly. The cartridge moves when they do, up and down, side to side, back and forth.
Finally we have come to speakers. I am completely biased. I prefer the sound of planar speakers over cone speakers. Cones are what everyone is used to. They are made up of---well, cones. These vibrate back and forth to the signal. These can cost up to $30,000. I have Magnepan 3.3 QRs. Here is an example of a magneplanar speaker.
So there you have it, a description of the audiophile world too brief and not nearly technical enough. But after all is said and done, after all that cash has been laid out, what do you have? Simple: You will have in your home the ‘music of the spheres,’ Heaven’s own ethereal tones, a listening experience that is better than you know what. (You had better not explain your habit to your wife in these terms.)
Don’t believe me? Well then just get yourself to your local audiophile dealer. Call first, because like fancy restaurants these places usually require an appointment. Bring in your favorite CD or vinyl. Ask to see a sound room. Sit and listen. Prepare to be transformed. You will hear things in the music you never knew were there. As you sit the system itself will disappear, leaving only the music.
Which is exactly the point, after all.
(You might take a look at the magazines read by audiophiles. Here is one, Stereophile.)
Mel Gibson knocked another one out of the park with Apocaplypto. Yes, it was bloody---but it was about the Maya, a culture obsessed with blood and the blood-soaked god, Kulkukan. It was also stunningly beautiful, evocative of the decline and degeneracy of the late Maya era.
Much of the violence of the film was more Aztec than Maya. Truly the Aztecs were the cruelest people in History---and that says a lot. I will write later of them at length, but it is enough to say that they managed during celebrations of their hummingbird god to surpass the killing efficiency of Auschwitz.
There were many rolling heads in Apocalypto. Each unfortunate victim was forced to submit to the knife of a priest and witness his own heart torn out of his body and displayed to a screaming and blood-intoxicated crowd. The unlucky fellow would then be decapitated, the head being tossed down a blood-encrusted temple stairway. This waste of humanity was meant to feed the insensate gods of the Maya pantheon.
Here is an example of such an event, taken from an Aztec drawing.
Gibson actually built an entire Mayan city for his film, including a series of temples where occurred those sacrifices. Such structures can still be seen in Mayan ruins today. Here are some reconstructions from the Russian Mayanist Tatiana Proskouriakoff (1909-1985).
The main temple you see in the film is a reconstruction of this temple at Tikal.
The Maya of Apocalypto were at the end of a long period of decay. They were hundreds of years from their peak of civilization. You see it in the debauched eyes of the Mayan elite who titter and laugh as each victim is slaughtered and dismembered. You hear it in the speeches of the king who tries to convince the people that all is well with the city. But they are dying, and they know it. All the blood is merely an attempt to buy off the gods for a few more sessions of eating, drinking and merriment until the End comes.
And it does come. The last minutes of Apocalypto show Spanish galleons off the coast. The hero of the story, Jaguar Paw, understands what they mean. He chooses to remain in the forest rather than investigate these strange beings who traveled on castles on the sea.
Not that it mattered much. For once the first Europeans arrived in the Western Hemisphere all native civilizations were doomed. They could not stand against smallpox, against Toledo steel, against Christianity. They had no answer to the vastly superior culture that had invaded their world. All Indian civilizations would eventually succumb and be swept away.
And their contributions to civilization were paltry indeed. The Aztecs gave us chocolate---the word itself is Nahuatl, and is the only word that is the same in every language---the Maya, the concept of zero. And what else? What thing created by Native American civilizations do we use today?
All that killing, all that brutality, all those hearts torn out of living bodies, all that blood---all for nothing. The ruins of their cities are little more than monuments to waste---of time, of people, of civilization.
The fables coming out of Washington have increased dramatically, thus I conclude that an election is near.
So for whom to vote? But is that the issue, simply voting? Why, about every nation on our miserable little globe runs elections. Ghana votes, Russia votes. Even Saddam ran for office in his salad days. (He won every time, don’t you know?)
There must be more to this freedom thing than just casting a ballot. And there is. It lies in this sublime experiment called ‘America.’ She is unique, one of a kind, a dream made reality that can never be repeated.
In a room in Philadelphia in 1787 a group of men brought their political fantasies into the real world. They created a new nation almost ex nihilo. I say 'almost' because those men had plenty of baggage with them, baggage like the Old and New Testaments and histories of Rome and Greece written by men thousands of years dead.
I said dead not silent. For along with Washington and Franklin and Madison and all the rest stood Plutarch and Livy and Thucydides and Polybius. And of course old Moses was there too, keeping an eye on things. For those who made this nation consulted history’s dead giants at every turn.
After every session the delegates would retire to rooms or taverns with their ancient texts. You can almost hear them as they went through those pages. “What does Aristotle say about tyranny?” “What did the Achaean League do in a similar situation?” “What does Polybius say about the Roman Senate?”
So much did the delegates acknowledge their debt to the ancients that they debated whether to hold sessions while wearing togas.
The result of those four months in Philadelphia is called the United States of America. She is the one and only nation ever thought up in a room and presented to the world as a fait accompli.
More than 200 years later the marvelous experiment is still around. In spite of numerous attempts to destroy her since her conception she has defied all the odds and defeated all her foes.
And now comes around another one of those Novembers when Americans are to go to the polls and vote for this guy or that guy. We are told that it is ‘our duty as Americans’ and to not vote is to be ‘unpatriotic.’
Oh really? If these statements are true then this voting thing must be of supreme importance to the survival of our Republic. Is it?
No. Not these days anyway. A vote for anyone on the ballot is really a statement that the government is legitimate. It is like buying something. You see the price and fork over the cash. No one forces you to do so.
Politicos try to convince us that those who do not vote are at the very least lazy. But perhaps non-voters are just fed up. And they have plenty to be fed up about. That place called Washington seems to many of us so out of touch, so alien, that it has become in all essentials a foreign land with its own name, ‘The Beltway.’
Try this experiment. Choose your favorite politico from any one of the three branches. Now choose at random any of those men from the room in Philadelphia. Compare resumes.
There you have it. The facts stare you in the face. Not one of the movers and shakers who run this nation could hold a candle to any one of those who made this nation. It embarrasses and shames. It is as if a fine and beautiful palace was abandoned by those who designed and built it and became inhabited by mice.
And now these mice demand our support. On what basis? The one and consistent thing that comes out of Washington is contempt---contempt for you and for me. The mice claim our vote but then work to insure that it is meaningless. The one certain occupation of the mice is to use our money to retain office. Power, and nothing else, is their desire.
And there is scarcely any way to rid ourselves of them. They have managed to put in place laws and rules to almost guarantee their re-election, and 97 percent of them succeed. Nothing can pry them out of Washington. The mice have buried into the corridors of power like beetles into dung.
Look how they howled when we tried to restrict the number of terms they could remain in office! Why, it was as if we denying them their birth right to lord it over us for all Eternity.
No matter what the mice do---sodomizing female and male pages, running houses of prostitution, drowning their girlfriends, refusing to uphold our laws, betraying the country, taking bribes on camera, becoming masters of mendacity---the creatures remain in power, there to pass laws and judgment on the rest of us.
And now the mice plead for our vote so they can pretend legitimacy. They do this while standing in places once occupied by Washington and Jefferson.
I end with a question for which I have no answer: Why has our Republic fallen so far since those long ago days in Philadelphia?
I have no desire to speak ill of the dead---until Castro is found at room temperature. Then all bets are off.
But what of 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin?
I never saw his program outside of a few bits and pieces from Animal Planet. But I most certainly had heard of him. I thought him a little loony, a little crazed, a tremendous showman. What he did was shocking. And dangerous. And who, upon seeing his act, did not secretly wish to do something like that? From the comfort of our living rooms we could be brought as close as we needed to be with the sheer wildness of the non-human world.
There is a bit of Walter Mitty in every man. We take vicarious joy---always from a distance, mind you---from such as Irwin. We would not---we could not---do what he did but we are glad that there are those like him out there in the world.
I ask this question not from any sort of pleasure at Mother Nature---that bitch red in tooth and claw---getting revenge upon Steve. He had children. He had a wife. He had every reason to live another 30 years to see his children grow into adulthood and to enjoy the great comfort of a wife in his declining days. So why did he continue risking all of this for the sake of smacking around animals that, if they could, would devour him and his family whole?
I do not pretend to have an answer. But I can pretend to understand Irwin---if only a little.
Steve Irwin was a man. A red-blooded type full of passion and intensity. Had he been born in the 19th century he would have gone exploring in Africa, looking for the source of the Nile. Or perhaps tried to be the first to ascend Everest or reach the poles.
To put it bluntly Irwin was born too late. He lived in an age when most of our world has been mapped and McDonald. Adventure---the real thing, going out in some wild and weird clime where no man has gone before---is hard to come by these days. Irwin had to find his place in such a world---and he did.
We cannot now ask him the question that so many would ask him: Was it worth it all? Was it worth risking life and limb and family again and again to enter the Wild Kingdom?
The Greeks say that when Odysseus entered Hades he encountered the shade of Achilles. Odysseus greeted him as 'blessed in life, blessed in death.' Achilles would have none of that. He answered that he would rather be a slave than be dead. Achilles had chosen a short life full of glory rather than a long life rich with family but doomed to anonymity. He regretted--alas, too late---such a surrender to worldly aclaim.
A student of mine once had a t-shirt with this:
Not so. The opposite is the case. And we hope that the Christians are right, that sometimes Glory can be forever. But we will see. We all will see.
I give this piece of advice to my students---especially to the young males:
So Steve, requiescat in pace. Our fallen world needs your type of man. But not a lot of them.
What is it with Hollywood types? Though they earn bucketfuls of money, live lives full of indulging their senses at every opportunity and are among the prettiest folks on the planet, that is not enough. What they really want is to be taken seriously whenever they open their perfectly toothed mouths. They want the world to clap and applaud their opinions as wildly as it claps and applauds their movie roles.
I regret to inform these Beautiful People that such an event will never occur. One can put money on the fact that when a Hollywood type gives some interview about anything under the sun save his own profession, that he will show the world why the words ignorant, imbecile and fool were coined.
The reason is that actors and actresses spend their entire lives pretending to be someone else. It thus becomes impossibly difficult for most of them to truly be a real person. When they do make the attempt to actually live a real life off-camera and beyond the stage, they stumble about in confusion. We see the results of this all through their lives—divorce, adulteries, sexual perversion, genital adventurism, drug abuse, alcoholism and infantilism.
They are living proof that money and fame and talent do not translate into reason, coherence and wisdom—to say nothing of shame and discernment. They are only completely reliable in their ability to play the public ape.
Well we recall the late Heath Ledger of recent Joker fame. He was a perfect example of your Hollywood type, full of talent yet empty of head. After making his pro-sodomy flick Brokeback Mountain he inflicted upon the public these Deep Thoughts.
Personally, I don’t think the movie is [controversial] but I think maybe the Mormons in Utah do. I think it’s hilarious and very immature of a society,” Ledger said in The Herald Sun. “I heard a while ago that West Virginia was going to ban it but that’s a state that was lynching people only 25 years ago so that’s to be expected.”
Hollywood types really enjoy lecturing normal folks about morality, though they themselves indulge in wild abandon, moral nihilism and debauchery. Such a lifestyle killed off Ledger, which had the redeeming effect of ending his silly tirades.
The latest Hollywood imbecile to lecture the rest of us is Daniel Radcliffe, star of Harry Potter. Amazingly, the callow lad is even less coherent than Ledger. He offers his views on that favorite subject of the rich and famous, sodomy.
20-year-old Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe has, in an interview with a homosexual magazine, expressed anger and intolerance for parents who oppose education about homosexual sex in the classroom.
He shares with Ledger the same view of sodomy, though Radcliffe is a bit cruder on that refined and delicate subject.
Then there’s all this stuff at the moment, which is hateful, about people being up in arms about the idea of gay sex education in schools. Hello!?! Actually for the one or two gay kids in the class, it’s f***ing vital! It really makes me angry…I just loathe homophobia. It’s just disgusting and animal and stupid and it’s just thick people who can’t get their heads around it and are just scared…I’m not just saying that because I’m being interviewed for Attitude. I’d be using a lot stronger language if this wasn’t on tape.
Well, that’s good to know!
To measure the quality of Radcliffe’s ability to reason coherently, I present you with this.
Radcliffe has stated that he is an atheist, as well as that he is “very proud of being Jewish.”
Just for the record, here is an account of that activity praised by Radcliffe. It was by written by a guy named Moses, who was no doubt also “very proud of being Jewish.”
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination…If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.— Lev. 18:22, 20:13
Now that I think of it, here is another account that includes that same habit, also written by a Jewish guy.
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.—1 Cor. 6:9–10
In that one paragraph the entire lifestyle of the Hollywood crowd is condemned and tossed upon the fire.
So whom to believe? Those old Jewish guys or the esteemed, talented and wealthy Mr. Radcliffe?
Anyway, Radcliffe might have had a wee bit of a hint that his views were not taken seriously by the real world, so he did what Ledger did: He performed nude in front of the camera. That’ll show ‘em! Radcliffe chose the horse-porn stage play Equus to demonstrate his moral worth, his intellectual seriousness and his marvelous abs.
Enough already. Writing about public jackasses is tiring.
A pity there is no way to get these
moral imbeciles to shut up. They will go on and on until they die
normally or take the route Heath Ledger took.
I am spending two weeks in Portland with my brother and his family. They are about the finest people on the planet. They live and thrive here, but after just a few days I miss my revolvers. It is probably a good thing I left them at home.
Really, it is hardly possible to imagine a city more different from Oklahoma City than Portland. This place is chock full of crazy folks, and offers all sorts of things nearly unavailable in Oklahoma City. The usual signs of decay are present, including in abbreviated form all the moral depravity exhibited in San Francisco. Aggressive, alcoholic, drug-addicted and urine-stained homeless; public fountains used as lavatories; parades of perverts working their obscenities in broad daylight; gaggles of teens festooned with tattoos and piercings; used needles (and other used devices) littering streets and byways; parks rendered unsafe when the sun goes down.
Welcome to Portland!
The reasons for this public depravity are the usual ones.
Since the 1950s, if not earlier, Portland has strongly favored the Democratic Party at all levels of government. Although local elections are nonpartisan, most of the city’s elected officials are Democrats. Democrats also dominate the city’s delegation to the Oregon Legislature.
Are we surprised?
Some mayors of this madhouse deserve special mention. The present one is Sam Adams. He is an outspoken sodomite. He likes little boys whether or not they like him. He has the habit of exposing himself to random folks just passing by his house. Another mayor, Neil Goldschmidt, liked little girls whether or not they liked him. Both Goldschmidt and Adams have a great deal of political power here, of course. They are among their own kind.
What is it with Portland? There must be something in the water here.
Perhaps we should do a mind game. Imagine a child raised on natural spring water. Around the age of 5 the parents begin to place a drop of urine into his water every day, increasing the amount of urine over the years. By the time the child is an adult he is drinking pure urine. So accustomed to urine does he become that the taste of spring water becomes unpleasant. He cannot understand why some people drink spring water, and he believes them crazy for doing so. He also thinks that the legions of illnesses he gets from drinking urine are not really illnesses, but rather signs of a healthy mind and body.
Such is the current state of much of the good and true people of Portland. They are really urine drinkers, and have been for a long time. So many Portlanders have been drinking cultural urine that they have lost the ability to discern disease from health, good from evil and truth from falsehood. The result is confusion everywhere and at all points—moral, political and theological.
Need I add that Portland has the lowest church attendance of any mid-size city in the US? And that there are more strip bars and sex shops per capita here than any major city in the world? And that entire sections of the city are given over to sodomites and lesbians? You can observe them working their depravities in public, if you have a strong stomach.
Who would choose to raise children in this grotesque and cut-rate Gomorrah? Actually, this is not a worry, for every year schools are closing due to lack of kids. Lesbians and sodomites are not known for their ability to generate children, though they do on occasion resort to the adoption agency and the test tube.
And just as naturally Portland is a haven for all the political idiocy known to man. The urine drinkers here are in lock step with the media and the current regime in Washington DC—and pardon that redundancy. Portlanders think themselves sophisticated because they all agree among themselves on the essentials of what passes for educated opinion on: the role of the UN, multilateralism, religion in the public square, US foreign policy, the military, the Kyoto Treaty, public education, abortion, environmentalism, global warming, conservative thought, liberal thought, affirmative action, the death penalty and the 2nd Amendment. Portlanders affirm each other, refer to each other and congratulate each other. There are no real public dissenting voices here. None could survive without a titanic struggle, but local radio guy Lars Larson soldiers on, right in the belly of the beast.
When Christ comes back, He will have it out with this city. It will well deserve its fate.
Anyway, I am thoroughly enjoying my time here. The company is the best around, the food is good and the talk is refreshing. And I have lots of beer.
Another sophisticate has spoken out, and bravely.
I don't want to sound like an ad, a public service ad on TV, but the fact is if you can read, you can walk into a job later on. If you don't, then you've got the Army, Iraq, I don't know, something like that. It's not as bright.
So said Stephen King. He is a writer of horror I hear, though I have never read his books. I do hope that his written prose is more literate than that evinced by his speech.
King's bold words passed scarcely noticed, near invisibly in fact. The reason is because they are not at all remarkable. Such courageous thoughts spew regularly from those who ride booted and spurred over this tottering edifice we call ‘Western Civilization.' There is hardly a mover and shaker residing in the ivory towers of academia or among our literati who does not share the same views as the courageous Mr. King.
From their talk, from their vast outpouring of books and articles, from their appearances in the media, from their endless self-absorption, from their spittle-flecked sputtering hatred and disdain of the common man, one would get the impression that these types are the very upholders of all that is sweet and honorable in our culture.
One would be wrong. Such men are the destroyers of civilization. Like competent parasites they take every advantage of a society created and maintained by their betters. They drain as much vitality as they can, replace it with a crude solipsism and a selfish relativism, and work to crush the husk that remains. Their lives are ones of soft comfort and padded ease. For in all their degrees and learning and rhetoric and billions and billions of words they have learned nothing worth knowing. For all intents and purposes they are barbarians.
Civilization does not rest upon their shoulders, it rests upon the shoulders of men with guns.
We sleep peaceably in our beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf.---George Orwell
It has always been so. Civilization and the ability to inflict violence go together, are inseparable. Our pampered elites cannot understand this and have no ability to understand this. They look upon men with guns like apes gaping at The Last Supper.
Our venerable history books speak of Western Civilization as beginning with the Greeks somewhere around 700 BC. Not so. It began with the Hebrews pushing into what they called ‘the Promised Land' 500 years before. We forget that the most influential book in Western Civilization had its origins in the violence spread by the Israelite commander Joshua and his successors. The poetry of Solomon, the beauty of the Psalms, all rest upon the shoulders of Israelites with swords.
The contributions of the Greeks came to us through violence, of Greek against Persian and Greek against Greek. Aeschylus fought at Marathon and Salamis, Socrates at Delium, Demosthenes at Chaeronea. Aristotle tutored the future conqueror of the world, Alexander, who himself spread Greek culture as far as the Indus River. It is simply a waste of time to try and separate those who begat Western Civilization and those who used violence to promote it. Sometimes they were one and the same.
The Romans were likewise. Cicero served in the army. Caesar was a superb Latin stylist and man of letters. Horace served with Brutus at Philippi (42 BC). Virgil idealized Roman power, and both he and Maecenas were friends of Augustus. Suetonius and Pliny the Younger served under the Emperor Trajan. The emperors Hadrian and Aurelius wrote poetry. The Emperor Constantine legalized the spread of Christianity and so begat yet another facet of the spread of Western Civilization.
The Middle Ages also relied upon men of violence and men of books. Boethius worked for Theodoric the Great (520 AD). Justinian (r. 527 - 565) revised the entire Roman law code. Charlemagne built schools, began the first European Renaissance and himself spoke several languages. An entire style of troubadour poetry and epic literature, including The Song of Roland, flowed from the wars of Christian against Moslem in Spain.
The Renaissance was a time of great violence and high culture. Leonardo designed military machines. Michelangelo worked for that most militaristic of popes, Julius II. The ruthless Medici were great patrons of the arts. Dante fought at the battle of Campaldino (1289). Machiavelli undertook both diplomatic and military missions. Cervantes was with the Christian fleet at Lepanto (1571). Cortéz was a writer, and one of his soldiers was Bernal Diaz de Castillo who became a historian of the Conquest.
Many of the great Christian men of the day were not exactly shrinking violets either. The Jesuits were founded by Ignatius Loyola, who was a soldier. The gentle Francis of Assisi was a troubadour poet and mercenary. Aquinas formulated the Christian concept of ‘Just War.' Las Casas was a historian of the Indies. Martin Luther relied upon the pikes of Protestant kings to spread his new faith.
I could go on, but you get the point. Western Civilization has always depended upon bayonets. Take away the bayonets and the culture they supported will crumble, and rather rapidly.
Let us put it another way. The Ancients wrote of the Ages of Man, first of Gold then Silver then Bronze and finally of Iron. This last Age is dismal indeed. Men are "warlike, greedy and impious. Truth, modesty and loyalty are nowhere to be found." Hesiod (c. 700 BC) was even gloomier.
During this age humans live an existence of toil and misery. Children dishonor their parents, brother fights with brother and the social contract between guest and host is forgotten. During this age might makes right, and bad men use lies to be thought good. At the height of this age, humans no longer feel shame or indignation at wrongdoing; babies will be born with gray hair and the gods will have completely forsaken humanity: ‘there will be no help against evil.'
There in a paragraph is our future. Our own nation's Golden Age is almost ignored in our history books, our Age of Silver a distant memory. Our present Age of Bronze is itself crumbling, preparing our nation for a coming Age of Iron.
When it arrives, who will defend what remains of Western Civilization? Will the likes of Stephen King step up to the plate? Will Pinch Sulzberger and Ward Churchill and Ted Kennedy don battle fatigues and utter their cries of war? Will Bill Clinton and his minions marshal armies and command troops? Will the professors at Yale and Harvard give great speeches about the noble profession of arms?
You already know the answer. Worthless men like them will be swept away. All their works and words, seemingly so valuable in this age, will be as dust.
The coming Age of Iron will be met as such times are always met, by men with guns. When it is over, when the forces of barbarism have at last receded, the new civilization will be ushered in by these men, the men of Yorktown, of New Orleans, of Chapultepec, of Gettysburg, of San Juan Hill, of Saint-Mihiel, of Guadalcanal, of the Ardennes, of the Chosin River, of Tet, of Desert Storm, of Fallujah.
For it is those men and their guns who have carried upon their shoulders our American nation. It is their ancestors throughout time and space who created and supported Western Civilization, of which we are a part.
In 1000 years when the dust has settled, when the first glimmers of a new Age of Gold appear, men like Leonidas will still be remembered. Men like Stephen King will be as forgotten as yesterday's papers, remembered only by worms.
I just returned from 12 days in Portland. Traveling to and from meant time spent in a variety of airports. Lots of folks were viewed, scrutinized and wondered about. Some observations…
Americans are fat. Perhaps one out of every ten was reasonably shaped. The remainder had bellies—some of the men looked pregnant—saddlebags, ample padding in the rear and awe inspiring thighs. Muscles were flabby and loose, if they could be seen at all.
Americans eat a lot in airports—which might explain the above. Food courts and their temptations abounded. Many a fellow walked with food in hand, gobbling as he waddled. I could not count the number of greasy hands that were engaged in the placing of food into mouth.
Americans talk on the phone. A lot. Call me odd, but the hearing of a stranger’s conversation annoys. Why would I be interested in his family or vacation or plans? Such conversations used to be private. Some folks had that device that goes in the ear and allows hands to be free while chatting away. When coming upon one of these specimens I always have the first impression that the person is nuts.
I should add here that I am probably the only person in the nation without a cell phone. And I am not going to get one. I scarcely answer the one I have. I cannot imagine taking the damn thing with me 24/7.
American men expose too much of their flesh. Trust me when I say that I have no desire to see your naked legs on public display. Stop wearing shorts, for the love of Heaven. I cannot imagine some strange man wishing to view my naked legs. Of course I do not give them the opportunity to do so.
American ladies expose too much of their flesh. Girls, why would you think that every man has an interest in seeing those parts of your body best observed only by your husband and your physician? Please spare the innocent your naked flesh and cover up.
American men dress as if they were teens. I am at a loss as to why. Men wear shorts, baseball caps and t-shirts. They look like large versions of my 8th grade students. Some grown men were seen wearing capris. Had I had my revolver I would have shot them dead. No jury outside of San Francisco would ever convict me.
Americans take too much carry-on baggage. They stack the things up like Lego bricks and tow them around from plane to plane. They then try to fit the things in the overhead, which always makes for an amusing spectacle. Check your bags at the counter. At least then your hands would be free for eating.
For a snapshot of the way we were, see any movie from the 50s that has a scene in an airport. You will be startled.
We the People were different then. Thinner too.
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