Friday, October 9, 2009

Around the Web

For the week of Saturday, October 3 through Friday, October 9.

1) A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Craft, Imagination and Renaissance Wisdom by Alvin Holm at
The Newington-Cropsey Cultural Studies Center.  From the essay:
My contention is that the Renaissance Wisdom, imported from the classical past and delivered to the future we inhabit today, is largely conveyed through a craft tradition, parallel but not completely independent from the monastic and university channels which are most frequently credited.

2) The New Criterion reviews A New Literary History of America, noting that it "is only incidentally concerned with literature" and overall, it is about. . .
the left-wing politically correct worldview in which literature, in which cultural endeavor generally, exists only as a prop in a “progressive” political agenda. Harvard University Press should be ashamed.

3) Discussing a horrible event as reported in The Guardian, Theodore Dalrymple points out a disturbing trend:
The Guardian’s article appears to accept that such behavior, so long as it targets a member of an unprotected group, is merely undesirable—“anti-social” rather than obviously criminal. The rule of law is fast evaporating in Britain; we are coming to live in a land of men, not of laws.

4) In an essay in the New English Review, Dalrymple also discusses how. . .
The desire to blur limits and boundaries, in order to overturn society, has long marked out a certain kind of leftist. Because in social phenomena there are always borderline cases, they wish to undermine the very idea of categories. They are like people who would deny that anyone is tall because there is a fine gradation between tallest and shortest. Thus, because some things were considered crimes that are so considered no longer, and some things that were once legal that are now deemed criminal, they deny that the crime is anything other that an arbitrary social construction. A criminal is someone who merely has difficulty in his relations with society as some men have difficulties in their relations with their wives (and vice versa). What more natural, therefore, than that they should all attend the same day care centre, where they will be cured of their difficulties by psychological means?

5) From Maxwell's House of Books via Diversity Lane, the wisest words on the latest sordid tale from Hollywood:
Regrettably, this small, sordid suburb of Los Angeles is one of the world’s most powerful molders of “public sentiment”, and the recently focused attention on acclaimed director Roman Polanski should serve to remind us of of this fact. Over the years, movies have increasingly relied on the extreme, the perverse and the profane to sell themselves. But this is far from being the mere commercial exploitation of controversially “racy” material by cynical, yet otherwise bourgeois studio execs who “know better.” It is, rather, a clear reflection of the morally denuded minds of its makers–the producers and directors–those unwitting, third-hand consumers and distributors of the philosophical corrosives contrived by Rousseau, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, Sorel, Sartre, Foucault, Derrida, et al. For over one hundred years, their destructive ideas have filtered down from academe and into popular culture. What “lesson” did they teach? Primarily, that truth and morality have no objective, universal content, and are nothing more than the arbitrary expressions of cultural bias, or the individual’s will to dominate. Thus, for their disciples, it followed that to free oneself from the fetters of traditional morality was to undertake a bold adventure in self-discovery, liberation and “progressive” thinking.

6) James Pierson at The New Criterion discusses President Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize:
In attempting to intervene so obviously in U.S. politics, the Nobel panel is taking the risk that its prizes will be discredited as nakedly political or that its awardees will come to be viewed in America as toadies of the European left, as some of them (Jimmy Carter and Al Gore) already are. Recent awards have raised eyebrows in the United States regarding the motives behind them, but this one may prove to be a real eye-opener.  In the terms of international politics, the Nobel committee is trying to use; its "soft power" (it has no hard power) to reward its allies and rebuke its adversaries in the United States. That tactic will work only so long as it does not become too obvious—and with this award it appears that the Nobel committee has overworked its message.

7) Alfred Brendel discusses music, his retirement, and his poetry.

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