"On Your Own, No Direction Home, A Complete Unknown, Like A Rolling ZONE" Edition
Obligatory shilling. I wrote for The Critic about parental regret and in defence of not always saying what you think and feel.
I wrote for Spectator World about Kid Rock conservatism and the strange Republican coalition.
For my paying subscribers, I published an exclusive preview of my forthcoming book. I also wrote in defence of being closed-minded (the title is a bit mischievous - I only meant in two specific kinds of cases).
Thanks. I hope my American readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving. My dad tells me that opinion commentators have a habit of being miserable. I have no idea what he means, but before I turn to COVID, crime, corruption, climate change, cancer and communism (just to focus on depressing things that begin with “c”) I thought it would be nice to have a moment of gratitude. This year I am thankful for my loved ones, and for my home, and for beautiful snowy mornings like the one I photographed, and for living in a time when I have so much to read, and watch, and listen to, and for my readers, who are under no obligation to read my writings but who do so nonetheless. It is a great privilege. Thank you.
Adaptation and resilience. No one can tell Aris Roussinos that he does not take environmentalism seriously. The UnHerd author is moving to the countryside:
In the New Year, barring some unforeseen eventuality, I will sell my house and buy a smallholding somewhere hilly (and so at less risk of flooding than the coastal town where I currently live) and with enough land that I can ensure my family’s food supply in case of trade disruption or rising prices.
Not everyone can move to the countryside. Roussinos’s broader argument, however, is that we have focussed too much on consumption at the expense of infrastructure and innovation:
If we claim that disasters are on the horizon, yet do not build up the infrastructure now to cope with them, why should anyone take these claims seriously?
Well, at least we all know where to head if civilisation breaks down. Party at Aris’s!
Activistic opportunism. Sohrab Ahmari criticises the manner in which progressive activists frame the murder of trans people as necessarily resulting from their transgenderism:
In case after case, a minimal amount of public-records research reveals victims shot by their lovers and ex-lovers, targeted in robbery attempts (botched or successful), bludgeoned and stabbed by the mentally ill in senseless attacks, or otherwise felled in domestic disputes.
World building. Paul Kingsnorth reflects on vaccine mandates, lockdowns and the mainstream narrative around COVID:
I am a writer. I know how to construct stories. I know what makes them succeed or fail, and I have a nose for when a story does not hang together. The covid Narrative is just such a story. It doesn’t fit together, even on its own terms.
To be clear, I think the vaccines have a significant therapeutic effect and if you have advanced beyond middle age it is advisable to take them. Transmission is not half as important if the virus is not half as dangerous. In blunt terms, who gives a damn about being infected if you have to sit at home for a few days drinking Lemsip instead of hacking up your lungs in hospital.
With that said, now we know vaccines are not nearly as good at preventing transmission as was hoped, it is irrational and dangerous to put such an authoritarian emphasis on vaccinating the unwilling and the young.
A man of letters. Joseph Epstein considers the prose of T.S. Eliot:
Literature, for the man of letters, who not only writes about it but practices it by himself writing poetry, fiction or drama, provides wisdom beyond all other wisdoms, surpassing science, social science, history and philosophy, while incorporating them all.
I too am a man of letters - primarily “B” though also “J” and “X”.
Decapitation fatigue. David Matthews explores the morbid rise of narco chic:
Yet decapitations have become so routine that, as Grillo says, they’re barely newsworthy anymore. So to up the propaganda and aesthetic stakes, the likes of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel records videos to spread on Facebook and Instragram. They usually show a phalanx of military vehicles and cartel members posing in tactical gear with assault weapons and, as Grillo notes, “sometimes torturing and executing enemy cartel members”.
Imagine being social media manager for Los Zetas.
Dürer's progress. Boyd Tonkin discusses Albrecht Dürer as something like the patron saint of freelancers:
Dürer’s progress, though, holds another salutary lesson for his freelance heirs. New cultural technologies may carve new pathways between artist and audience. Equally, highwaymen may lurk along them, ready to pounce. More prints meant more forgeries, more imitations, more deceptive pastiche and passing-off.
Illegible argot. Geoff Shullenberger discusses Foucault in Warsaw:
The perceived danger of homosexuality, it seems, resided not in the sexual act itself but in the consequences of its marginalization: tight in-group solidarity, the creation of an illegible argot, and so on.
Have a lovely week,