Washington, CT. Ambrose Bierce, in his magnificently arch “Devils Dictionary” defined a Conservative thusly:

Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils , as distinguished from the liberal, who wishes to replace them with others”.

In other words, nothing ever changes. Perhaps that is why the gentlemen who magisterially pronounced the “End Of History” are correct more by default than intent. History is over because we have arrived at that wonderful state of static civilization where life is simply a shuffling of evils on the deck of the Titanic. Voegelin speaks of philodoxy, our nervous embrace of opinion. Beyond that, he speaks of Dogmatomachy, or rule via competing opinions and how it conspires with other depauperate human forms of wisdom to slouch into a state of Closed Existence. Willful ignorance then operates freely within obscured sectors of reality. The great “Information Age” of our generation’s thoroughly self-satisfied tribute to yakking is, in no small measure a Great Dis-Information Age where opinion and dogma merit the same respect as that elusive thing we call truth. You spin, for we spin, for we all spin together. It’s all for one and ehh, all for one.

After all, “Change” seems to have suffered the same exile into meaninglessness as has “history”.

When you start attempting to define trends via the vernacular of Imperial Russia, you know you have a problem. Take, for instance, the words “Raznochintsy” and “Intelligentsia”. Both were mid-wived by the long struggle of the Russian peasant to find a little sunlight in their impoverished lives. We all know the definition of the latter word, we have a media and leadership class that likes to claim it as their own. In Russia, the Intelligentsia were the “liberal members of the gentry”. While the great thinkers, movers and shakers of our American Intelligentsia use the word to describe themselves, they are implicitly calling attention to the growing cadre of great unwashed who are chafing a bit under the burdens of venal stupidity and avarice displayed by our so called elites. The Russian raznochintsy were the “people of no rank.” Welcome to the enlisted ranks, my fellow American Raznochintsy. We may think we inhabit a vaunted democracy and possess the fundamental rights to ownership of anything from our privacy to our homes, but it should be obvious to all now that the fastest growing sector of this debt-happy nation is the “people of no rank,” our amerikanski raznochintsy.

Meanwhile, the frustrations of being forced to watch a slow-motion train wreck are resulting in a splintering of the slap-happy Grand Old Party into renegade bands of Mensheviks and Bolsheviks. The American Mensheviks have their Trotsky in the Big Government Neo-Conservatives who wish for progress but only that kind of progress which will maintain the existing forms of government modified, of course, in their world-transforming image. The American Bolshys , on the other hand, are the mad-as-hell Tea Party with their sexpot Lenin Sarah Palin, fresh from cash-cow book tour and on a First Class Junket into Everyday Celebrity. These two “revolutionary” combatants against the evil Liberal gentry will now duke it out with a wrestling card of opinion that is sure to be exciting, while their opponents in the Intelligentsia will continue to concoct a thinly veiled bunko in the general schemes of space travel, democracy at gunpoint and fiat money economic legerdemain. The Show Must Go On.

One thing is certain, like in Russia during the last gasp of the Tsars, Terror will be ever-present, although its perpetrators shall be few and at the end of the day, the raznochintsy will still be “the people of no worth.”

The other day, I overheard President Obama as he held forth on the potentials of our storied Space Program. He announced that he intended to hand the low earth orbit taxi service concession over to our Cosmonaut friends in Russia while applying our own efforts to heavy cargo lifting for exploration deeper into space, concurrent with the development of commercial earth orbit space transportation. In his remarks, he declared without a hint of irony that he wanted America to not only embrace the future but to actually “leap into the future”. Stirring words perhaps, redolent of the Kennedy through Nixon effort to land an American on the Moon but amidst the current economic crisis , the idea that we might like to “leap into the future ” seems downright escapist if not wholly comic. I can hear the Exceptionalists and Positivists grumbling now that I am resorting to a retreat from our technological abilities and embracing American Decline. I am doing nothing of the sort, I’m simply acknowledging the very clear signals that we have not yet reached such an exalted state that would merit the idea of decline from it. The flesh is willing but the spirit is dead and buried.

Eric Voegelin, in his Platonic references described the idea of the Metaxy, the “in-between”, the simultaneous best and worst of all worlds. it is the fullest expression of the human tension of existence. In America, a place that fundamentally altered his evolving philosophical views, Voegelin discovered our fundamental rooting in a “common sense” approach to life. America was unique not because the government provided or furnished a better reality for its citizens but because it existed so lightly that the people could freely enjoy a plurality that released them to create their own reality to a degree never quite seen by a polity before. This Democratic Republic, so unlike most revolutionary and utopian schemes created a fecund “can-do” self-reliance. We were subsidiary not by command and control but by virtue of the combination of a fine piece of ground and history’s longest leash.

Unfortunately, we seem to have lost several feet off this leash and the landscape is taking on a decidedly worn quality. Predictably, in our straitened circumstances, we resort to what Voegelin refers to as Metastatic Faith, the idea that faith can alter reality and in the pursuit of utopia, we can escape what we might feel is ailing us. Along with metastatic faith comes the satisfaction with the mere doxa mentioned above and ultimately, philodoxy generating an Ochlocratic or mob polity whose essential temperament is Eristic . Rule by contentious reasoning and strife becomes the modus operandi and in this milieu, symbols surrender clarity and become weapons. The value-based issue politics exist within a superstructure of symbols and when these symbols have limited grounding within reality and are encumbered with the escapist urge of utopian thinking, we exit Metaxy and enter the pole of a protracted waking nightmare of unsettled belligerence and accumulating broken promises. The Transcendent becomes a snipe hunt.

I have frequently used the term “vicarious agora” in my various ravings and was self-satisfied that it summed up the essential ills of our spectator culture. The term attempted to define the odd atmosphere of someone watching television or listening to the radio and actually thinking they were participants in a modern agora. It was an insufficient description of the malady which confronts us. My first forays into the greater sophistication and breadth of Voegelin’s historical analysis, coming quickly upon the heels of time spent with the warmth of Augustine and the lock-tight case building of the barrister Aquinas have raised distinct doubts about the potentials of utopian positivism. We inhabit the Metaxy on this lovely earth of apodictic honesty and within that Metaxy is the animating transcendent vehicle of Ipsum Esse. Perfection and her Utopian sprites are that false pantheon which brews mischief with alacrity, distracting us from the art and craft of Being.

When Being is viewed in the light that exposes our degenerative philodoxy, we may come to inhabit an articulation that shall produce a return to the possibilities of common-sense and charitable liberty promulgated by the Framers. Without this necessary reclamation of “what-is” rather than “what could be”, we shall all be as debauchees in a brothel of opinion. Reform, “Change”, progress, “leaps into the future” are meaningless vacuums within the context of the current societal mindset. We are ever-yearning, ever scanning the horizon in an escapist boredom because despite the light that falls upon us both in spirit and from our nearest star, we inhabit a realm of Scotosis, we have turned into darkness. Reforming Darkness shall perhaps keep us busy but it will never remove the bleak shading that darkens our discourse. We once ignored the blandishments of utopia because reality was richly engaging. Light and dark came and went and we saw that it was good. Though fallen, we still possessed the spark of life that seems to be a treasure now dismissed in favor of inchoate yearnings for a phantasm of materialistic gains. Funny enough, that ground we must recover, we already stand firmly upon it.

29 COMMENTS

  1. Yep. Just took Americans a little over two hundred years to return to the the plutocracy of the Brits’intense concentration of wealth! Perhaps a little on the slow side but accelerating rapidly.

  2. Thanks, D.W.; enlightening; however, I plan to reread with dictionary & encyclopedia in hand.

    While I appreciate your honesty as to your perception of Palin as a “sex pot”, & while, I too, perceive her so, it seems an out-of-character remark. Just an observation; not a criticism.

    Perhaps you will find this of interest: http://buchanan.org/blog/19th-century-americans-3936 While Pat’s style is more pedestrian, I think he has hit several nails on the head.

    For some reason, or not, your article had me asking: Which missionary am I in the following story?

    Two missionaries in Africa get apprehended by a tribe of very hostile cannibals who put them in a large pot of water, build a huge fire under it, and leave them there while they go for a pre-luncheon nap. A few minutes later, one of the missionaries starts to laugh uncontrollably. The other missionary can’t believe it! He says, “What’s wrong with you? We’re being boiled alive! They’re gonna eat us! What could possibly be funny at a time like this?”

    The other missionary, with hysterical laughter, says, “I just peed in their soup!”

  3. D.W.,
    The late Perry Miller, who wrote an intellectual biography of Jonathan Edwards that I am sure the great Puritan would not understand or recognize as being about him, was famous for showing up at his local poker games with a bottle of whiskey and a certain amount of money, and when one or the other was gone, announcing to his friends, “I’m going to write a chapter.” It probably doesn’t quite describe Voegelin, but it ain’t too far away. The Transcendent has always and ever been a snipe hunt, but I prefer the way that Pogo makes that point.

  4. Steve,
    Don’t know if I’d characterize Scrappy Buchanan as “pedestrian”, he’s usually an island of clarity within the Grandly Dotty Old Party. The key to avoiding the fate of boiled missionaries is to avoid preaching where it will do no good….or preaching for suicidal sects…..or preaching in a town one is kicking doors down with regularity.

    Willson,
    While I would tend to agree that the philosophy of Pogo cannot be beat , there is an awful lot of clarity behind Voegelin’s assertion of a reigning philodoxy in this yammering lapsed republic. Behind the convoluted vernacular is some of the clearest diagnostics of the current scene that I’ve seen. Perhaps it is a bit intoxicated because the sober language of conventional wisdom refuses to see that which is hitting it squarely on the nose.

    Ed Abbey said that whenever he hears the word “metaphysical” , he got an urge to reach for his buck-knife. He thought the transcendent-prone were old ladys too. But then, he was a mystic at heart, a slickrock mystic of desert thinking. He rhapsodized about Turkey Buzzards and if that aint a bit metaphysically transcendent, if a little stench-prone, I don’t know what is.

  5. I was told Voegelin wrote in an ice-filled bathtub with his typewriter on his knees? No, really, I was told that in earnest. Theoretically I prefer broke or toasted writing.

  6. Thanks, D.W. & other erudite commentators for introducing me to Voegelin and his ideas. I discovered Hayek in the 60s while in college & am rereading his “Road to Serfdom” after 40 years. Amazing how much more I enjoy it now (while I question whether, or not, “enjoy” is accurate). I understand from Wiki that Voegelin & Hayek were friends.

    Also, I would like to thank all of you for this wonderful site. In addition to the excellent ideas presented in your articles and comments, it has led me to discover Graham Greene, the great Chesterton’s work,the Paschal sermon of St. John Chrysostom, the concept of Distributism, & even some interesting ideas on Lincoln!

    What a great gift this site is! Thanks!!

  7. “the Transcendent has always and ever been a snipe hunt,”

    Has it? As far as I was aware almost all cultures but the-post renaissance West(and perhaps partially the late Greco-Romans.) didn’t even have to hunt it let alone snipe hunt it(yes I realise the bad grammar.).

    “Ed Abbey said that whenever he hears the word “metaphysical” , he got an urge to reach for his buck-knife.”

    Which is why a traditionalist should approach the likes of Abbey only, if they choose to approach him at all(and I think they might gain a little if they do.), from within their own traditionalist foundation and not try and include him in this foundation. Metaphysics is simply the study of reality, it is at the heart of theology and philosophy(the real philosophy of Plotinus, Aquinas and similar and not the pseudo-philosophy of Descartes and his successors.).

    I say whenever someone dismisses such key categories I have the urge to treat them with extreme caution at best. If I had to choose between Abbey(and the same goes for Thoreau and similar.) on the one hand and Plato, the church fathers and the Schoolmen on the other I would choose the latter any time, and it is this traditionalist pantheon that such comments of Abbey’s take a swipe at, and I have a hard time seeing how a movement formed of those one side and those who take the other side of this choice can work. Traditionalists and those who place Edward Abbey or Thoreau or Jefferson at the heart of their intellectual roots will most probably not form a coherent movement together.

    “He thought the transcendent-prone were old ladys too. But then, he was a mystic at heart, a slickrock mystic of desert thinking. ”

    This sentence is oxymoronic and he wasn’t a proper mystic, proper mystics work within traditions and the revelations they represent in time. As far as I know and as you describe him Abbey is no mystic. Shankara, Pythagoras and St.Francis are mystics.

    “He rhapsodized about Turkey Buzzards and if that aint a bit metaphysically transcendent, if a little stench-prone, I don’t know what is.”

    Neoplatonism, Sufism, Kabbalah , Vedanta, philosophical Taoism, Pure land, Meister Eckhart that kind of thing.

  8. Wessexman,
    Edward Abbey was a wit who extolled the beauties of the Plateau Country slickrock landscape, along with the distinctive characters inhabiting it. Setting up some kind of patrolled perimeter around the ranks of the “proper” is precisely the pox that my essay speaks of and in your comments, you have ably proven the point of the addled hubris surrounding such useless and prideful ghettoizing. Regarding Abbey, I would follow Aristotle’s lead and recall his adage that “Wit is Cultured Insolence”.

    What a waste of time this is, creating niggling false choices between Plato and Abbey as if one were setting up accounting reports for the District Manager to review.

    Humor , Wessexman, its called humor. If staunch aridity is what is needed for “coherance”, I’ll take illegibility any day.

  9. Sabin none of that really changes the harsh facts of the matter. There can be no coherent movement that sets up Abbey(or Thoreau or Jefferson or similar.) as equal to the others. He must be viewed by traditionalists through a traditionalists lens and not be made part of it. So certainly there was no wasted time in my point if one is interested in some semblance of a useful traditionalist platform of social critique.

    I fail to see any aridity or ghettoising, I cast the net very wide it simply seems as if yo object to the very idea of a net at all but then how will you make your catch? The proper reaction to narrow ideology should not a post-modernesque level of tolerance which forgets the very idea of an sensible shared purpose and conceptions. You may call my field arid but it is better than pouring the water almost randomly.

    So as I said, harsh rhetoric aside I’m unsure what your above post really changes.

    One wonders why you post on this site instead of any other if you have no use for shared ideas and conceptions.

  10. Anonymous Wex, “I’m unsure what your above post really changes.”

    Should you read the last paragraph of D.W.’s post again? I see no connection whatsoever between what his point is and what you seem to require.

  11. His comments attacked metaphysics and held Edward Abbey up to a position I don’t think he deserves, that is all. My point is that a certain traditionalist coherence is absolutely necessary for any decent social critique from us tradition. We must avoid both a rigid platform on the one hand and a complete lack of any coherence on other.

  12. Wessexman,
    You obviously have only a cursory knowledge of Edward Abbey’s work and no knowledge of some of his inspired interpretations of the Desert Southwest.

    I, in no way, attacked metaphysics, Willson and I were having a gentlemanly and humorous aside on them and you jumped in with a hectoring lecture that set up the policed borders you claim I advocate.

    Again Wessexman, Google “humor” and try and figure it out. Anybody that reads my far-ranging raving idiocy knows I am not known for being “anti-metaphysical”.

    “Harsh facts of the matter”…..cripes, what a lark. Your “coherence” is a load.

  13. Wow. I ve been reading articles posted on the front porch for the last couple of months hoping to discover that there were some folks out there who had read the likes of Chesterton, Lasche, and Wendell Barry and who would prefer a local diner over Chilis. Folks who would choose a chat with a friend over American Idol and who could see that our two political parties sound alot like Heckle and Jeckle. To a certain degree I found some appreciation in these articles for these things but I ve also found a group who seem too . . . . over sophisticated . . . . snobby maybe…..to have much of an appreciation for community and an eye for the simple and important aspects of a life of quality and not quantity.

    I actually liked some of Sabin’s orginal points, or at least those that I could devine from a somewhat forced vocabulary. I mean come on, I m obviously not a philospher or academic, but even I know one cannot “inhabit an articulation.” (or maybe one can, was that one of your points?) Moreover, just when you were making a great point, or at least I think it was, came this eye bruising sentence. “Along with metastatic faith comes the satisfaction with the mere doxa mentioned above and ultimately, philodoxy generating an Ochlocratic or mob polity whose essential temperament is Eristic.” Geez.

    And as far as Wessexman is concerned it seemed to me that he was trying to define some sort of shared purpose within which Abbey did not fit. Although I love the line about reaching for his buck knife, if it is the subject of metaphysics that makes him feel that way, I really dont want him around my campfire. At any rate that must have been a mistake so bad that it actually made one doubt Wessexman’s coherence. Just out of curioustity, what do you guys do for a living?

  14. Roger S.
    A fair point, consistent with some of what Willson asserted and Perkins was hinting at. Voegelin created..well, perhaps appropriated is a more accurate term for it…..his own terminology to describe his analysis . It is admittedly dense to the uninitiated and uses the inherited Classic languages and philosophy but it really is the most effective way to describe the cult of competing opinions…rather than truths….that infest the current dialogue. One has to have his glossary in hand to double check meaning and while this is somewhat ponderous at first, the rewards are there to be had. Discussing his philosophy, one is required to use his language. Personally, I think it a small price to pay for interesting and unique rewards. Snobbery has nothing to do with it. Unless, of course, one is battling the popular anti-intellectualism of the day…….this notion which disdains anything beyond the most basic language and hence, fails to appreciate the phenomenal beauty of our language ability over time and cultures. We are entirely too proud when we happily accept a culture whose educational attainment level averages the 8th grade (and our media uses this as a benchmark) when our public schools alone mandate at least a 12th grade attainment.

    A raw red steak might help the bruised eyes…then, upon recovery, grill it and wash it down with some beer….or home brew hard cider. Maybe read a little Bukowski.

    Ed Abbey made a habit of barking at pretentious mental theatrics and he would likely want to pistol-whip me for involving him in the same discussion as one concerning Voegelin. While he might have cast a stink-eye toward the metaphysician, he was a desert rat philosopher with a pure heart open to the stark xeric beauty and contradictions of his beloved plateau country. He also had a soft-spot for the outsider- underdog against the machine. He’s hardly someone you would want to avoid under the pretext that he is not of some kind of Great Pantheon of The Gatekeepers of Coherence.

    What I do for a living is fart around in the dirt with stone and plants, attempting beauty. Sometimes I succeed. Otherwise…it can be boiled down to “furor scribendi”.

  15. Boy did you make me feel bad!!!!! I guess I should have added that you were also a very nice guy. Sorry if I came off harsh in my email. I am certainly not an anti intellectual but I m no intellectual either. Somewhere between half read and fully read I suppose. I know that Lasch spent quit awhile discussing Voeglin in The True and Only Heaven but I m afraid I have to draw a line when it comes to reading philosophy specifically beacause they require learning a new language-I just dont have the time or will power. Still, if you think it he’s worth it, perhaps I ll give him a shot. What would you suggest? With respect to Abbey, I did have time to google him and found some really great quotes like “growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” Great stuff.

  16. “You obviously have only a cursory knowledge of Edward Abbey’s work and no knowledge of some of his inspired interpretations of the Desert Southwest. ”

    I have a reasonable knowledge, I’m just saying he is not a mystic in the sense that Shankara is one and not a foundational part of what should be something like the traditionalists viewpoint. He has a lot to say but he should be approached within this viewpoint and not be the foundation of it.

    “I, in no way, attacked metaphysics, Willson and I were having a gentlemanly and humorous aside on them and you jumped in with a hectoring lecture that set up the policed borders you claim I advocate.

    Again Wessexman, Google “humor” and try and figure it out. Anybody that reads my far-ranging raving idiocy knows I am not known for being “anti-metaphysical”. ”

    Well if you say so, but you know mentioning humour, there is a u in humour you damn yank, is not an actual argument.

    ““Harsh facts of the matter”…..cripes, what a lark. Your “coherence” is a load.”

    Why? What’s your argument? Surely your approach risks turning any sort of porcher ideal into Eliot and Kirk’s Chirping sectaries? Surely anything goes tolerance is as bad as rigid ideology?

  17. I’m also unsure Sabin why I shouldn’t offer my pretty small and, to ignore humility for a second, sensible viewpoint. Why can those you agree with offer their opinions freely but when I do it I’m “jumping in” to “hector” you?

    “Ed Abbey made a habit of barking at pretentious mental theatrics and he would likely want to pistol-whip me for involving him in the same discussion as one concerning Voegelin. While he might have cast a stink-eye toward the metaphysician, he was a desert rat philosopher with a pure heart open to the stark xeric beauty and contradictions of his beloved plateau country. He also had a soft-spot for the outsider- underdog against the machine. He’s hardly someone you would want to avoid under the pretext that he is not of some kind of Great Pantheon of The Gatekeepers of Coherence.”

    Is he a Christian Platonist? Does he fit within that framework? That is pretty much the basis of a decent traditionalist viewpoint if you want to put it in a simplistic fashion. In truth one would either have to view him through this tradition or the tradition through him, to try and make a tradition out of him and the Christian Platonist(or Western.) tradition. Like Thoreau there is much for a traditionalist to admire in Abbey’s view of virgin nature but there can also be problems, there are times when they approach what could be called the Wordsworth rather than Blake ideal of nature, ie one that forgets that, to the traditionalist at least, nature is reflection of a higher realm of existence. Surely your level of tolerance not only opens you up not only to Eliot’s chirping sectaries but to ignoring something key to traditionalists, the hierarchic idea of values(and indeed levels of being.).

    I hope this time you will actually discuss instead of dismiss my viewpoint Sabin.

  18. For the record, I have only Science, Politics & Gnosticism by Voegelin, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Or I enjoyed what I could comprehend. I ought to reread that sometime, see how embarrassing my marginal notes are.

    I will say that there are fine lines–or, rather, overlapping frontiers–between appreciating the breadth of expression allowed by our beautiful language, using language as a tool of self-aggrandizement, and substituting vocabulary for thought. I don’t think that Herr Sabin here fell into either of the latter traps. It’s rather that he plunged into them with a wink.

    I am, perhaps regrettably, bewitched by the likes of Richard Ford, Nicholson Baker, and Phillip Roth when it comes to contemporary fiction, so I tend to find more straightforward and less ornamental renderings more elegant.

  19. Oh, and Roger S, I’ve been a teacher for almost fifty years, but my first “job” at the age of 14 was cleaning toilets in our school building in Phelps, NY. I was good at it. Later I became a house painter (fell off two ladders, once into barnyard slop and once on two roofs and then twenty feet to the ground, which explains some of my curious opinions) and carpenter; I think I’m the last man to leave graduate school with a Ph.D. and owing nobody any money. My wife of almost 49 years stoned our chimney at the age of 63. We are not ones to mess around with. But we are happy people.

  20. For Willson and Perkins:

    Willson, you weren’t the last unless you earned your Ph.D. after I did. And, given your luck with ladders, you should read Wendell Berry’s story, “Burley Coulter’s Fortunate Fall.” It first came out in Sewanee Review.

    Perkins, I knew immediately you were a man of breeding. I’ve said a few things about Ford here.

  21. Perkins,
    You catch the drift…….Everything I do is with a wink, life is entirely to short and brutish to do it without ready winks. I admittedly have a fondness for arcane vocabulary…not because I like to lord it over people but because I enjoy both the comprehensive meanings and wider rhythms of a larger vocabulary.

    I was born and raised in Utah and while this creates an unfortunate genetic proclivity toward Republicanism, my blessed ma Babs sealed the deal by requiring that I sit down and read W.F. Buckley’s pieces in the Salt Lake Tribune, with dictionary in hand and then tell her what they said. In Palo Alto and on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, this would be considered child abuse. So, I caint help it. Nor can I deny it is completely free of narcissism.

    Roger S.,
    You keep calling me a “nice guy’ and I’ll really have to get ugly.I don’t truck with the cussed “emoticons” and so I’ll have to add “wink-wink”. Abbey’s “Desert Solitaire” and the classic “Monkey Wrench Gang” are good places to start for him. Desert Solitaire is in the form of essays and the MWG is the late 20th centuries greatest novel on throwing a wrench in the workings of the great metallic scream of our “Growth Economy”. After Kirk Douglas played the cowboy in the “Lonely and the Brave”…a hollywood interpretation of Abbey’s “The Brave Cowboy”….he bought the rights to the MWG and was to make a film on it . Unfortunately, it has never launched and I don’t know who might own the rights anymore. The money boys are likely a little chary of financing something that would be considered “Terrorism”…in particularly “Eco-Terrorism” these days. Too bad, its a hilarious story.

    Voegelin’s “Autobiographical Reflections”, his Essays and the volume Perkins cites are good places to start. Autobiographical References contains the required Glossary. The Glossary itself is a good place to gain insights into the current cult of opinion.

    Willson,
    There is good training in the swabbing of toilets. Your bride as chimney mason…now thats a WOMAN!

    Wessexman,
    I was going to throw care to the winds and call you a merciless twit but then I saw you refer to me as a “damn yank” who dropped his “u’s” from humor…with only an “o” and I thought better of it, appreciative of the leavening invective. Still though, I cannot get beyond your suggestion that I am a “chirping sectary” because I mentioned, in an aside, ole Ed the Anarch in the same breath as discussing metaphysicians. You should know that this continuing tidy categorizing of yours gives me the impression that you spend too much time in a Wendy House out back, flipping through old copies of British Country Life. I am hardly indiscriminate. In fact, its kind of funny to be questioned as a snob and a sectarian dolt in the same thread. That said, it is entirely a waste of time to attempt creating a lock-tight pantheon of those who are sainted and those who are not because to do so would be to attempt utopia and utopia is highly over-rated and likely has no bars….as in pubs. To quote Ed again: “Page , Arizona, Shithead Capital of the World. Any town with 12 churches and only 2 bars has an incipient social problem”.

    Having haunted this porch for some time, I was not aware that the place was supposed to restrict itself to things exclusively Christian Platonist . I never equated Ed Abbey with Plato . I confess to liking both. Shameful business this. Call me indiscriminate for shifting from Hunter S. Thompson or Bukowski to Russell Kirk and Augustine in literature or in music from Coltrane, Iggy Pop or Tom Waits to Bach, Ives or Beethoven. I do so without worrying whether they occupy some special category of sainted existence. This does not, however, cause me to think Edgar Rice Burrough’s John Carter of Mars series is as serious a set of thinking as that produced by Edmund Burke or Blake (one of my favorite inspired half-mad genius’s. Nor, do I consider the Talking Heads to be operating on a plane equal to the Goldberg Variations performed by Glen Gould. But I chirp for both. Happliy so, not indiscriminately so. You will have to forgive me my fine Brit friend, I spring from Black Irish Pagan Stock and we are known for a predilection for the earthy. We are also knee-jerk in our antipathy for pretentious sots. I’ve come to these magnificently intriguing Christian Platonist realms late in life…which accounts for my feistiness.

    Its why I miss my old ramshackle pal Cheeks on these here boxes. He could do crude and lude and then seriously transcendent in one string of words and turn on a dime and then grin like a carnival barker.

    Do insult me at will, it endeared me to you at long last.

  22. I do actually like Abbey Sabin I just view him through the traditionalist viewpoint, which to simplify it greatly
    could be called Christian Platonist(in the West.). I consider metaphysics and cosmology the most important basis for any worldview and for these we must turn to core tradition, to Homer, Pythagaros, Plato and the neoPlatonists, Aristotle, the Stoics, to the bible, the church fathers and the Schoolmen and Christians mystics like Meister Eckhart and many Saints. There are differences among these but there is common core, which recognises the division between the absolute and the relative more or less and more or less recognises our relative worl’sd reflection of and reliance on the absolute and the spark of objectivity and the absolute within the human Intellect(in the Platonic sense.), and there is hierarchy of views and values. Now a lot of post-renaissance, post-Descartesian has been an assault on this tradition, an assualt on its metaphysics and cosmology, so I think quite understandably I do like to judge moderns through the tradition, which is no rigid ideology(it applies to other civilisations in different forms with the same esoteric core.) but a complex and near exhaustive framework of revelation and Intellect(in the Platonic sense.) and not to let in many modernist assumptions that judge the tradition.

    I basically agree with Voegelin that the real division in politics and society is between the religious and philosophical transcendentalists and the immanentists but I’d add an almost equally key division in the first group between those who defend the practice of following a particular revelation and its tradition, even if accepting the validity of other traditions and revelations, and those, influenced by modernism, who aim to degrade them in favour
    of humanist and individualist and so on assumptions. A new hippy or a Scientologist is almost as bad as an athiestic communist or liberal.

    Well that is the basis of my argument, no doubt you disagree but there you have it. Note though I have no lock-tight pantheon, I judge according to a hierarchy of values and perspectives yes, the key being the mystical-metaphysical differentiation between the relative realm of the universe and the absolute ground of being or God,
    but I find quite quite a few modern figures who score very highly as well of course as many, many Islamic figures, Indian figures, far eastern figures even important concepts within Plains Indian philosophy. However I think it complicates things to bring these people in as key figures for the Western tradition.

  23. “Its why I miss my old ramshackle pal Cheeks on these here boxes.”

    Yeah, what happened to Bob? Did I miss something?

  24. Wessexman,
    You jump to the idea that I disagree with you altogether too quickly. I am likely a bit more humanistic, libertarian and chaotic in my approaches…for better or worse…. than you but I do not disagree about the general concepts of your hierarchical outlook. I don’t think there is any merit to bringing “these people into the Western Tradition” (Islam, Tao etc) in order to either discredit or validate them. They exist within their own episteme against which we can compare and contrast with edifying results. What I perceive you to be asserting is that we should be entirely more vigilant against, as Voegelin might put it, the mish-mash of relativist grab-ass of the modern philodoxy and its manifestation in the egophanic revolt…the detestable “Me Generation” of our sybaritic brain-holiday for idly consuming nitwits.

    Hippies are people too. Scientologists….well, thats another issue altogether . Some of the greatest insights into Plato and Blake I ever enjoyed was from a “Hippy” in Montreal. But then, what the hell do I know?

    I once wrote a flummoxed piece throwing mud @ Descartes on thisahere web site.

    Now I know you Old Worlders have an odd fascination with Cowboys and Injuns….I once spent a night in Wells on the Netherlands-German border and the entire town was dressed for some kind of carnival and walking around in Cowboy and Injun garb while oompah music played on the public address system …but I must say that you have sealed my sympathetic ear by two things: the logical tenacity in your harangues and your tip o the Derby to the Plains Indians. I don’t feel any need to say we should agree to disagree. Rather, we can keep it to agreeing to disagree and agree in the collegial manner that makes the Porch the sometimes convivial place it is.

    Rob G.,
    Cheeks is at the National Peeve-Masters Convention at a drunken bar somewhere along the Ohio River where somebody with an Obama bumper sticker on their Prius just insulted the memory of a local defunct Ceramics Factory while extolling the new subsidized windmill factories of Iowa and so he has wrenched the telephone receiver off the wall and is bludgeoning the fellow with it while telling him it is in the interests of his own Eudaimonia and to keep his damnable commie pinko fey Second Reality to himself. In other words, he is “away on business”, testy as ever.

  25. I concede! We have a winner:

    Cheeks is at the National Peeve-Masters Convention at a drunken bar somewhere along the Ohio River where somebody with an Obama bumper sticker on their Prius just insulted the memory of a local defunct Ceramics Factory while extolling the new subsidized windmill factories of Iowa and so he has wrenched the telephone receiver off the wall and is bludgeoning the fellow with it while telling him it is in the interests of his own Eudaimonia and to keep his damnable commie pinko fey Second Reality to himself. In other words, he is “away on business”, testy as ever.

  26. Sabin have you read Frithjof Schuon’s The feathered sun? It is on the Plains Indians in philosophy and art. Like most of Schuon’s works it is excellent.

  27. Wessexman,
    No…I’ve read several others but not that one and will hunt it down. Thanks. The Clan ceremonies of the indigenous populations fascinates me…speaking of traditions, arcane and otherwise.

Comments are closed.