Anthony Esolen

Something Better than a Giant

welsh-countryside April 28, 2014
This Christmas my daughter bought for me a CD of Welsh hymns, folk songs, and patriotic anthems, sung by the burly baritone Bryn Terfel. He’s a tremendous performer, apparently renowned for his work in opera around the world. If you…
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There’s Equality, and There’s Equality

valley_usold2 January 6, 2014
In one of my favorite movies, John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley, a family of coal miners is faced with the prospect of lower wages handed out by the owners of the mine, because the closing of the ironworks…
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A Message in a Bottle

message-in-the-bottle-582414-m December 2, 2013
Every now and then we hear of a lucky homeowner who takes down a wall to make renovations on his house, and finds inside it a cache of wonders; dozens of original posters advertising movies from seventy and eighty years…
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Life Under Compulsion: The Minotaur

minotaur September 3, 2013
When we lose the sense of transcendence, when in our hearts and minds the things of time are no longer oriented toward eternity, then, writes Jacques Maritain in The Range of Reason, it is not only that “Truth and Justice,…
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Life Under Compulsion: Contemplation

grandpa and me July 16, 2013
I am looking at another painting by Norman Rockwell, a part of his Four Seasons Calendar: Grandpa and Me in Summer.  I know that I am not supposed to enjoy paintings by Rockwell, because the man had skill and humanity…
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Life Under Compulsion: Saying Grace

saying-grace-1951 July 1, 2013
The creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Rom. 8:21) I am looking at Saying Grace, an extraordinary painting by Norman Rockwell. I’ve never caught the bug…
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Life Under Compulsion: Play and No Play

baseball June 10, 2013
In East Bangor, Pennsylvania (pop. 800), there’s a little diner named for the trolley that used to take people to the once bustling steel town of Bethlehem.  The proprietors have adorned the walls with photographs of other local things that…
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Life Under Compulsion: Noise

play May 20, 2013
The child’s language is melodious.  The words hide and protect themselves in the melody – the words that have come shyly out of the silence.  They almost disappear again in the silence.  There is more melody than content in the
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Life Under Compulsion: Music and the Itch

bagpiper March 11, 2013
Like dew on the gowan lying Is the fa’ o’ her fairy feet; Like winds in summer sighing, Her voice is low and sweet. Her voice is low and sweet, And she’s a’ the world to me, And for bonnie
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Life Under Compulsion: The Itch

inf.29.82.dore February 11, 2013
Thee let old men, Thee let young men, Thee let boys in chorus sing; Matrons, virgins, little maidens, With glad voices answering: Let their guileless songs re-echo, And the heart its music bring, Evermore and evermore! From Prudentius, Cordenatus ex
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Life Under Compulsion: The Dehumanities

reading statue January 21, 2013
Imagine a new father looking into the eyes of his child.  A wisp of blond hair curls about the scalp.  The fingers, wrinkled like those of an old man, curl about his own finger.  He has blue eyes, but who…
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Life Under Compulsion: Bad Universality

equations December 31, 2012
I had not thought that the tsars of education could possibly have come up with another idea as inhuman or stupid as have been their many innovations in the past – the New Math, the basal reader, the consolidated school,…
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Life Under Compulsion: Curricular Mire

arch of titus December 17, 2012
In my last essay, I took issue with the inescapable computer, that costly thing on the student’s desk in “good” schools, inducing the itch for instant “information” at the expense of knowledge and wisdom.  Now it’s time to notice how…
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Life Under Compulsion: Human-Scale Tools and the Slavish Education State

421814_11464286 December 3, 2012
When he was governor of Maine, Angus King made sure that there was a computer on the desk of every middle-school child in the state.  As I write these words, Mr. King is boasting of that accomplishment as he runs…
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Life Under Compulsion: If Teachers Were Plumbers

pipes November 19, 2012
This is Part IV of a series of essays. For previous installments of “Life Under Compulsion,” see Part I, Part II, and Part III. “Good morning, Mr. Jones,” says the man at the door.  “I see that the pipes in your…
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Life Under Compulsion: The Billows Teaching Machine

charlie chaplin November 6, 2012
Charlie Chaplin is working on an assembly line.  He tightens bolts with a pair of wrenches.  He does this without stop, over and over, for hours on end.  The repetitive motion drives him temporarily mad – the machine takes over…
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