Stuck in the Middle with You

I am reblogging this post of mine from ’17. These sentiments and suspicions still hold. These have, however, assumed a greater pertinence now that I am awaiting a child. I possess no stubborn hope that I–or anyone whom I currently know–will amount to anything that anyone reading blog archives years from now (what an amusing image) will want to memorialize–unless we can serve as virtual tiles in a mosaic of mediocrity and decline. I do hope, to the extent that I must to keep despair at bay, that I can prepare my child to flourish in a world in which all categories stand to be rediscovered because they are all being forgotten.

bourbonapocalypse

We are a generation of clowns and jokers performing during the intermission. A flummoxed flux facing the farce as it finds itself fleeing an afflicted entrance and flowing into an absurd exit.

I read Cyril Connolly’s The Unquiet Grave like I once used to read my book of Catholic prayers–often and everywhere. He writes, ” Three requisites for a work of art: validity of the myth, vigour of belief, intensity of vocation.”

What reigning and sovereign myths do we still collectively hold apart from some vague sense of the democratic value of the individual?

Vigo(u)r of belief? The only belief that we still vigorously share is some nebulous notion of individual rights.

As for vocation, a belief that one can be called unto something would require the relational idea that there is one who calls and directs and gives accordingly. Even those who do accept this premise may chafe…

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Kali Yuga, or Calling All Yugas

In Hinduism, the Kali Yuga age is the last of four ages. Oriented in the belief that with time comes decay, not progress and enlightenment, the Kali Yuga age is understood to be one of widespread personal, political, moral, societal, cultural, and religious dissolution and chaos. Before a new cycle of civilization can begin, this age must run its wayward course. Rene Guenon  and Julius Evola are two of the more prominent European traditionalists to disseminate this concept in the West.  

The most recent video by end-of-civilization-monitor Black Pigeon Speaks powerfully lacks any narration and, instead, parades the rotting corpse before our eyes, using only headlines gathered from newspapers over the past few years.

A few tantalizing ones:

“Surrey Police investigation over ‘misgendering’ tweets” [1984]

“Most bestiality is legal, declares Canada’s Supreme Court” [After all, are not such people born that way? Why should they be denied from becoming their most authentic selves? Love wins. ***Note***: I am not defending this position; I am using contemporary societal logic only to show where else it may be employed.]

“Scholar Calls Pedophilia ‘An Unchangeable Sexual Orientation’ that Should Be Accepted by Society” [See bracketed note above.]

The jig is up; we have no plausible alibi.

One could rightly point out that depravity is not a novel endeavor of mankind, yet that is not the concern. What is the concern–and what conforms to the spirit of the Kali Yuga–is the wide-scale societal acceptance of and promotion of–from all levels of authority (that is, from what authority still remains)–relativism and depravity. In addition, humanity must soon face challenges that are unique in historical significance: automation with its attendant human worker replacement and transhumanism, a movement that will no longer allow us to take for granted accumulated religious, biological, and sociological understandings of what it means to be human. We must not forget to mix these ingredients into the current political stew, one that is light on a shared vision of the common but heavy on identity posturing–posturing that is only being exacerbated by unrestricted immigration and reality-adrift political correctness.

Only a few months ago, my hope was to emigrate to watch America–if not the West, depending on where I landed–burn as I enjoyed a drink by the poolside. However, given that I have a child on the way, my plan to enjoy the decline has changed. Now I must  ascertain, with no small level of trepidation, how best to protect and to raise the soul for which I will be responsible. May as well lock the liquor cabinet and drain the pool.

 

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Shunning and Shaming: Are You Down?

To the benefit of the Internet, Arturo Vasquez is once again blogging on a regular basis. I first came across his blog more than a decade ago and have followed him through his permutations as traditionalist-Catholic-with-Neoplatonist-leanings to Trotskyite-in-spite-of-himself to primitive-green-anarchist to (now, ostensibly) Neoplatonist-with-traditional-Catholic-leanings thinker: whatever else it has been, it has not been a dull-blog car ride. I have always found his insider views on and occasional critiques of traditionalist Catholicism, if not enlightening, fascinating and even amusing. Plus, as a bonus, who else is out there arguing for a more sympathetic evaluation of (and return to?) folk Catholicism?

In his most recent post, he discusses Rod Dreher’s latest Conservative Inc.-controversy-causing release, The Benedict Option. Numerous summaries can be found at the stroke of a Google pen, so I will not bother with that more than is necessary to speak coherently about a response to it. Mr. Vasquez raises a few questions that all traditionally minded conservatives would do well to consider.

Simplistically put: Mr. Dreher (who, as an aside, based upon the one time that I briefly talked with him at the annual Walker Percy festival in St. Francisville, LA, is an extremely friendly person) argues that traditionally minded conservative Christians have lost their place at the cultural dinner table. (Whether they have forfeited it or have been pushed away or have experienced a combination of both–or have hysterically exaggerated the situation–can be argued to no satisfactory conclusion on his blog.) Taking a cue from St. Benedict, the founder of monastic communities that would become known as the Order of St. Benedict, such aforementioned Christians need to accept the current banquet situation and find another place to eat altogether. In fact, to transition from analogy to reality, they need to start growing their own crops and forming their own restaurants. In other words, traditionally minded conservative Christians need to abjure the realm (to use an expression that I picked up when I was in somewhat regular contact back in the late 90s with a few members of a proto-Benedict-Option group, The League of the South) and form their own communities populated by their own people devoted to their own interests, all without apology or kowtowing to a now dominant secular culture.

Unlike the more vocal critics of the Benedict Option, Mr. Vasquez does not claim that such a movement is unfeasible or even undesirable: “Without giving away too much, I have to admit that I have some experience with the topic of Dreher’s book. I ‘dropped out’ of the world earlier this century and was in a traditionalist Catholic milieu that did a lot of things that Dreher advocates. I saw many families that had ‘returned to the land,’ some who went deep into the forest only to emerge occasionally for this or that reason, and I even helped teach homeschooling children. And under certain circumstances, I could see myself ‘dropping out’ again.” However, he does call for a greater degree of self-awareness: “At the end of the day, people should do whatever they want, but they should do it with their eyes open.”

To what should such people open their eyes? The social realities of close-knit communities versus the romantic imaginings of people historically removed from those types of communities. Namely, we should consider questions as follow:  “Do you have the nerve to govern, shame, shun, and punish if necessary? And which of those activities led ‘traditional’ families and societies to give up on ‘oppressive’ Christianity in the first place?” Of course, there are, no doubt, socially (if not more than socially) impotent men who would love to assume positions of power denied to them by an evil, evil world (probably run by Freemasons), allowing them to establish mini-theocracies as interpreted by the Magisterium of the self and their own interpersonal failures. However, most of us would not be too keen on returning to older ways of shaming and shunning and punishing. For instance, anyone who knows me well would probably not be quick to use “chaste” or “sober” as the dominant terms to describe me. In fact, in a smaller, more vigilant community (read: an objectively better one), I probably would have been taken by a father and a team of brothers to the woodshed a time or two for past dalliances before I could reintegrate into the community. Another example: am I willing to avoid speaking to a gay neighbor who also occasionally dresses in drag? No, because when it all boils down, he is not a drag (heh heh) on my life–plus, he is a great bartender to boot (to stiletto?).  The point: if we want the social solidarity and stability that Benedict Option communities may bring (and they probably would bring such), we need to be willing to accept the necessary attitudes and practices that makes these communities possible. Are we?

Furthermore, as insulating as these “border wall” mentalities may  have been, they sure as hell did not prevent the entrance of the decay of Western civilization or the exodus of those raised within such mindscapes. Still, why do early generations come across as much more virtuous and self-controlled? Perhaps they simply did not have the options of rebellion/non-practice/other practice that most of us currently have. When such “freedom” (e.g., an array of market-granted economic options in lifestyle) was allowed to them, we all know what happened–cases in point: the 1960s and Vatican II. To this, Vasquez writes, “My wonder at Hippy Bob [the only child of eight who stayed with, by way of returning to, the Catholic Church] wasn’t necessarily about how all of his family lapsed, but how miraculous it was that he returned in the first place. At the same religious house, one of the priests characterized the Catholic Church before the Second Vatican Council as a towering cathedral made out of cardboard: for all of its intimidating presence, it was completely hollow on the inside. This explains why things collapsed as quickly as they did. Perhaps people weren’t ‘holier’ or even more ‘moral’: by and large, they may have just been better at ‘faking it’. All of these close-knit pious communities, well-catechized and cohesive, gone in one generation.”

Mr. Vasquez’s final paragraph leaves us with much to ponder, so I will quote it in its entirety:

I am still not saying that people shouldn’t drop out of society for all of the reasons Dreher cites. His cautions against the dangers of social media and technology particularly resonated with me. I think we will need to create small face-to-face communities to keep some sanity. But there is a reason I don’t consider myself a conservative and sometimes consider myself more of a Neoplatonist than a Christian. The collapse of Christendom means that we should probably take decades to examine in our doctrines and history as to why the collapse took place. In what ways are our “enemies” continuing aspects of the Christian message that we have neglected, even if in a distorted manner? Can we preserve Christian sexual morality and not be bigots about it? Can you really love the sinner but hate the sin? I understand that Dreher and other conservative Christians fear losing their children to “the world”. I am just asking, perhaps just to be a contrarian, if the enemy is already within the gates, in the very genetic fiber of the beliefs that we have long held dear. This isn’t an easy question to answer, but I believe it is a necessary if arduous task to do so.

 

 

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The Last Honeybee

I wrote this poem over ten years for a poetry-writing workshop. The poem displays the pantoum form: the second and forth lines of a stanza become the first and third lines, respectively, of the next stanza, and there is an alternating end rhyme scheme. Per the subject: I must have recently read an article about honeybees disappearing/dying.

 

The Last Honeybee

 

We smothered our Queen one month ago:

Not in rebellion—she had become listless.

We surrounded her, vibrated, and let our energy flow—

She fell to the ground, overheated and lifeless.

 

Not in rebellion—she had become listless.

She had refused to lay another egg or lead the swarm.

She fell to the ground, overheated and lifeless.

What larvae remain will soon come to harm.

 

She had refused to lay another egg or lead the swarm.

The drones have started to disappear.

What larvae remain will soon come to harm.

The workers are succumbing to a vague fear.

 

The drones have started to disappear,

And the larvae now suffer starvation.

The workers are succumbing to a vague fear

As our swarm encounters deprivation.

 

The larvae now suffer starvation.

On my own, I cannot feed the larvae.

Our swarm encounters deprivation,

And I can only watch the hatchlings die.

 

On my own, I cannot feed the larvae.

The honeycombs have become tombs:

I can only watch the hatchlings die.

In the collapsing colony, desolation looms.

 

The honeycombs have become tombs.

Alone, I forage for pollen and a sign.

In the collapsing colony, desolation looms.

Abandoned, as if by a hideous design.

 

Alone, I forage for pollen and a sign.

In case others are watching, I dance.

Abandoned, as if by a hideous design,

I drift among the stamens in a trance.

 

In case others are watching, I dance.

I pursue one last lingering bloom.

I drift among the stamens in a trance

And wait for an inverted spring to resume.

 

As I pursue one last lingering bloom.

I remember we smothered our Queen one month ago.

In waiting for an inverted spring to resume,

We surrounded her, vibrated, and let our energy flow.

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Ketchup-on-Apron-Kind-of Love

At least once in everyone’s life, one should utterly act the fool for love and fail. I am not saying that it builds character; it may very well rob one of whatever character remains. However, the experience does contain, within itself, germs both of the best and of the worst that life has to offer.

Once again, I present a clip from a Wong Kar Wai film (Fallen Angels):

 

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Perfidia

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Pessimism Manifesto

Mr. Alan Reynolds makes a concise yet thorough case for pessimism. Divorced from any hope rooted in the divine, pessimism presents itself as the most rational response to life, especially modern life.

Happy new year, y’all.

via Pessimism Manifesto

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