Friday Flotsam: Self-Examination

1. Maybe it’s from what I’ve been reading, or maybe it’s born of melancholy, but today I feel like being honest and ‘real’ as the saying goes and just sharing a bit about myself and my perspective in general. Though I suppose how real I am is something of an open question. But never mind.

2. One thing that I’ve always hated is pacifism, and it’s little cousins of self-conscious tolerance and the whole ‘welcoming’ mindset. It bugs me to a marabunta level when people conclude some talk of religion or morality with “Of course, I’m not trying to tell you what to believe,” or “It doesn’t really matter what you believe,” or some equally mealy-mouthed phrase. And the word ‘dialogue’ (which means precisely nothing) increasingly makes me want to throw up, but not before punching the person who uses it (alas that it’s so often used by clerics and women, who cannot rightly be punched even in imagination).

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not a warmonger or a champion of violence. What I hate is this trend of making it our ideal “to become nothing in order to live in peace with all the world,” in the words of Louis Veuillot.

Not that this is the ideal, of course; it’s only the one demanded of anyone who goes against the revolutionary program. But that leads us into political history and all that, which I don’t want to get into right now.

The point is, I want real, honest, concrete ideas believed and lived and fought for. I like frank admissions “this is what is true. If you don’t believe in it, that’s your lookout.”

3. Tied in with that, I like being able to be frank and open. Again, I like the concrete and honest. Which is to say, I like pretty women and I like actual fights. If there’s a conflict, then let there be a conflict, and don’t go scolding about how very horrible it is that we are physical beings who solve disputes by violence. Don’t take it lightly, of course, but don’t be a hypocrite about it (and I find that it’s the ones who wail over it who are the most eager for it when it’s one of their favorite causes: who were the ones cheering on the rioters in 2020 if not the self-style “peace and tolerance” crowd?).

And when someone starts talking about inner beauty (a fine thing in itself, to be sure), or acting all shocked and offended that a man should dare to notice that a woman is attractive, I want to roll my eyes and tell them to just go away.

Maybe it’s because I watch a lot of old films and old shows and so I remember when people understood that it’s not a binary between “creepily inappropriate” and “pretending not to notice the obvious.” What’s My Line? always comes to mind as an example, where the panel were free with compliments of the lovely ladies who come on as contestants, as well as with their fellow panelists. All very classy, very good natured, very frank.

Besides, it’s fun to tell a woman she’s pretty or to talk about how beautiful someone is.

4. I like things with roots and history, things that seem to stretch immemorially into the past. I suppose that’s one reason I tend to emphasize America’s Englishness; I want a longer history than two-hundred and fifty years to look back on. If it all begins in 1776, or even 1607, well, what a bore that would be. That, and I frankly want our national identity to revolve around something other than a form of government or dubious philosophical premises.

I don’t like seeing the full scope of things; I like there to be always more to find. And I like things that grow naturally, that have a history that can’t be fully known. At the same time, I like catalogues and lexicons and lists of rules that can be studied and explored. And I don’t think these are contradictory: we identify rational categories and rules, and then we can combine them in an infinite number of arrangements, but those arrangements thereby remain comprehensible.

That’s a little contradictory, I suppose. What I mean is, I like logic and order in the abstract, but I see the world as a great trove of mystery and wonder. An orderly perception better allows one to comprehend and experience that wonder.

To put it another way, materialism and wishy-washy progressivism are alike bad philosophy and kill one’s ability to see the beauty of the world. Good philosophy reveals it. Like how M. Bouguereau pointed out that mastering the technique in tedious practice gives one the power to create whatever beauty and wonder one can conceive of.

5. Which is kind of the point: the way I see it, Order is not the enemy of wonder and freedom, but its source. You ground yourself in rationality and an ordered existence, and from that stable position you can see the wonder of the world around you and plumb the depths of whatever comes under your hand. I love order and structure because they are the means by which beauty and wonder are revealed.

One does not learn to think well until one is able to perceive real distinctions and recognize how they are distinct. Then each thing takes on its own unique aspect, unlike any other. I’ve been reviewing the rules of grammar recently, and have had a taste of how this sort of thing opens up the mind.

Something else I hate is when people say things like “what is the real difference between this and that?” or “A is no different really than B”. The more you say that, the more you are slurring over reality. A man is not like a woman, a king is not like a peasant, a priest is not like a layman, and it is the glory of all that it is so. “The meanest thing, in its proper place, is of infinite worth,” as Don Colacho says. And it is precisely the differences that make for the wonder.

I want things to be gloriously themselves, and as themselves brought under God.

6. Add it all up and I suppose I couldn’t be anything but a Catholic. The impossibly sublime idea of God becoming Man, of all nature and reality being thus sanctified, and of each being offered back to God in its own proper way, of every part of life being as it were infected by Christ…there really is nothing to compete with it. My reaction to most ‘alternatives’, from Protestantism to secular humanism is a kind of bewildered revulsion: “What, you?” They simply don’t compare. At best I just have to wonder what the point is (So…just read the Bible? I can do that along with everything else), at worst it seems like actively degrading nonsense: again, back to “becoming nothing that we may offend no one.”

The utopias of toleration that I read in between the lines of most modern works, where it seems like everyone just sort of sits around smiling and being harmless until they die of old age fill me with revulsion.

7. So much of what’s in my mind depends on the context of other things that I’m never sure how clear I’m being. This might have been just a random rant that makes no sense to anyone but myself, and if so, I apologize. But I’m in a mood today and felt like cutting loose a bit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s