Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Christ Knight

From Medieval Studies Research Blog:
Most of us are familiar with the idea of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, but what about Jesus as a knight in shining armor, ready to do battle with a Black Knight called Satan or a fire-breathing dragon called Hell?  In the literature of the Middle Ages, Christ was represented as such a knight, ready to save the day.  Evidence of this can be found in Latin and Middle English sermons, religious lyrics, dramas, and hymns from the 13th to the 15th centuries.  In one hymn, Christ’s crown of thorns actually transforms into a battle helmet!

Though the idea of the Christ Knight may seem strange, there is a biblical precedent.  Ephesians 6:13-16 describes the armor of God’s soldier:
Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.   And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…
The Christ Knight could be represented in two different ways.  He could be the courtly lover wooing his beloved lady and sacrificing his life for her in battle (a story about Christ’s love of the human soul), or he could be the fearless warrior who duels with the forces of evil, is crucified, and rises from the grave to free the souls imprisoned in Hell. (Read more.)

A New American Civics Portal

From American Greatness:
In contrast “RealClear’s American Civics web portal gives students, teachers, and citizens-in-the-making a clear understanding of our nation’s founding principles and history,” stated DesRosiers. “We draw upon the best resources, research, and scholarly writing in order to educate and inspire a new generation of Americans,” he said.
According to RealClear’s website, the project seeks to give readers insight on topics such as inalienable rights, the Constitution, and civic virtue. Included in this project is the 1776 Series, essays that explore founding principles such as the nature of self-government and the republican nature of the U.S. Constitution. Further, this collection of essays will include modern topics of political import such as balancing individual freedom and national security.
Of the 1776 series, DesRosiers wrote, “We see that [the] soul of America finds its articulation in the Declaration of Independence and its New Order of the Ages ambitions. To say that it’s 1619—as the New York Times does—is to introduce a falsehood into our educational system.”
As a whole, this portal masterfully deals with America’s failures and successes without offering either a wholesale condemnation or exoneration. In the project’s introductory essay “American Civics in the Time of Coronavirus,” Carl M. Cannon states that the essays and resources will not present a “sanitized version of America.” He writes,
Lady Liberty is sufficiently beautiful that her blemishes needn’t be powdered over. On the other hand, modern revisionists mainly present a warts-only view of the United States. “American Civics” will do neither. The reigning ethos here will be that the country has nothing to hide and much to be proud of.
While this project will not shy away from the injustices that have taken place throughout our nation’s history—including slavery and racism—they will rightly be shown as departures from our founding principles.
The portal is arranged topically. Those doing research can click on one of several categories such as: EqualityLiberty, and Race and Slavery. Other topics will soon be added that cover self-government, citizenship, the U.S. Constitution, and more. Under each category are numerous informative essays to read. Also on the portal is a list of essential American civics readings that can serve as a source for teachers and students alike. (Read more.)

Remains of St. Jadwiga Discovered

From Ancient Origins:
It appears that for reasons unknown possibly because of the political instability in Poland at the time, that St. Jadwiga’s casket was forgotten. The discovery is very important in Poland which is overwhelmingly Catholic and where there are high levels of religious observance. St. Jadwiga, sometimes referred to as St. Hedwig is a very significant figure in the history of Christianity in Poland. She was born in Bavaria, in southern Germany and entered into an arranged marriage with Henry I the Bearded, one of the first Piast rulers of Silesia. Jadwiga was the mother of Duke Henry the Pious. She was a great patron of the clergy and encouraged many German monks and nuns to settle in the dukedom. Jadwiga was very pious and she was much loved for her charitable work, especially her care for the sick. Like many other Christian saints, she practiced mortifications of the flesh and she frequently wore no shoes. (Read more.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Mortality and the Old Masters

From The New Yorker:
In December, I spent most of two days studying “Las Meninas” during a visit to Madrid, when I believed that my end was near. I had set myself the task of ignoring all received theories about this voluminously analyzed masterpiece and, on the spot, figuring out its maddening ambiguities. It’s big: more than ten feet high by about nine feet wide. Its hanging in the Prado allows for close inspection. (The picture’s illusion of a space that is continuous with the one that you occupy can make you feel invited to walk into it.) The work’s conundrums orbit the question of who—situated where in space and when in time—is beholding this placid scene in a large room at the court of the Hapsburg king (and Velázquez’s employer) Philip IV which captures life-size presences with the instantaneity of a snapshot. The painter? But he’s in the picture, at work on a canvas, with its back to us, that can only be “Las Meninas.” Some characters, mildly startled, lock eyes with ours; others remain oblivious of us. (But who are we?) There’s the riddle of a distant mirror that doesn’t show what you would assume it shows. (Read more.)

Declassified Docs

From The Daily Wire:
The documents, first reported by The Washington Post in 2012, were unearthed by Fox News Editor Gregg Re on Wednesday night. In a letter, bin Laden wrote to a top Al-Qaeda official that he was instructing the Islamic terrorist organization to create two groups to watch for and to target U.S. aircraft visiting the region that could be carrying Obama or then-CIA Director David Petraeus. 
Bin Laden specifically instructed the terrorists to “not to target visits by U.S. Vice President Biden.” Bin Laden wrote: The reason for concentrating on them is that Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him will automatically make Biden take over the presidency for the remainder of the term, as it is the norm over there. Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the United States into a crisis. (Read more.)

From Trending Politics:
According to a former national security official that worked for the Trump administration, former CIA Director John Brennan purposely buried intelligence evidence showing Russian President Vladimir Putin actually wanted “the more predictable and malleable” Hillary Clinton to be elected in 2016. Check out what American Greatness reported:
In an oped at Fox News, former CIA analyst Fred Fleitz strongly disputes the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings in its latest report on the Russia matter. The bipartisan report, released on Tuesday, found that the intelligence community officials who prepared the 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian interference in 2016 “were under no political pressure” to reach “specific conclusions.”
The MSM has predictably gloated over the report, saying that its findings “back” the Obama administration intelligence officials’ assessment, and “drop a bombshell” on the John Durham investigation. John Brennan himself told Politico Wednesday that the Senate report vindicated the intelligence community’s (IC) assessment. Republican Representative Devin Nunes however found evidence showing that the Brennan was using intelligence for political purposes. (Read more.)

From Greg Jarrett:
Amongst the redactions released are parts of the Obama administration’s FISA warrant applications used to spy on Page. As Breitbart reports, the disclosures of the text claim Page was “an agent of a foreign power” and that “the status of the target was determined in or about October 2016 from information provided by the U.S. Department of State.” 
Newly released information also highlights how much the FBI, run by James Comey at the time, heavily relied on the Christopher Steele dossier as proof of Russian collusion. Of course, the collusion was debunked, and the nonsensical Steele dossier was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee. (Read more.)

Ancient Anatolian Burials

From Ancient Origins:
An archaeologist researching in Turkey has discovered ancient homes containing their owners’ bones. Inhabited between 7500 BC and 5700 BC, Çatalhöyük was an important Neolithic and Chalcolithic proto-city settlement overlooking the Konya Plain, southeast of the present-day city of Konya (ancient Iconium) in Turkey. An archaeologist from Szczecin in Poland has now discovered that some of the residents may have been buried within the confines of their own homes in shallow graves covered with plaster. Interestingly, evidence suggests some of the graves had been reopened to remove body parts to make room for new corpses.

 This discovery comes after a major 2015 archaeological project photographed the ancient site with unmanned aerial vehicles, and Dr Hodder told Hurriyet Daily News his team had performed “low altitude aerial photographic surveys” and produced a 3D digital map of the landscape of Çatalhöyük and its environs, providing further understanding of the site’s relationship with other Neolithic settlements in the Konya Plain. (Read more.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Funeral Services for Louis XVI and Louis XVII

And Marie-Antoinette and Madame Elisabeth. From East of the Sun, West of the Moon:
In consideration that for more than 21 years, good French people have been refused the right to make public the pain they have never ceased to feel deep in their hearts for the most execrable of crimes committed on the day of January 21st, 1793; the torment of the most virtuous of kings was followed by those of his august wife and sister, and of the slower but no less agonizing death of Louis XVII…(Read more.)

G.K. Chesterton on Scientific 'Experts'

From The Imaginative Conservative:
Experts, Chesterton worried, were the new aristocrats of his 20th century. Or at least they liked to fancy themselves as such. He much preferred the aristocrats of old, who merely thought that they knew how to live well, as opposed to the modern expert claimed to know better. Of course, that same modern expert may very well have great command over the particulars of his chosen field of expertise. And that knowledge might come to be very valuable indeed. Then again, it might not. In any case, scientific expertise, alleged, advertised, or actual, should never be the end of the story. This is especially so when it comes to the application of scientific knowledge or the uses to which it is put.

Let’s be clear here. G.K. Chesterton was no Luddite. He readily conceded that products of science could be “wonderful things.” At the same time, he still reminds us, no product of science is, “in any ultimate sense,” necessarily a good thing. For that matter, no product of science is, “by definition,” automatically a bad thing.

For Chesterton, what it all came down to was this: science was either a “tool or a toy.” Actually, he refined that statement just a bit more: science was “only” a tool or a toy. Did he prefer one to the other? Most definitely. Science as a toy was science as its “highest and noblest.” After all, a toy was something of far greater “philosophical grandeur” than a mere tool. Why? Because a toy “is valued for itself,” while a tool only has value for some other purpose. In sum, a toy is an end in itself, while a tool is only a means to an end.

In his musings on science Chesterton never got around to musing about viruses and models. But he did get to the heart of the matter when it came to the role of science and scientific expertise, no matter the matter at hand: in dealing with pandemics science may not be a toy, but it can only be a tool. (Read more.)

Noah's Ark: An Archaeological Explanation

From RealClearScience:
As Laurence C. Smith, a Professor of Environmental Studies and Professor of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Brown University, recounted in his forthcoming book, Rivers of Power, a story nearly identical to Noah's is "written on one of the twelve tablets of the Epic of Gilgamesh," predating the Old Testament account by more than a thousand years. 
"Numerous credible studies suggest that a real-world local catastrophe may have inspired the story," he writes.

"At the height of the last ice age around 21,000 years ago, global sea level averaged some 125 meters lower than today. The present-day Persian Gulf, extending from Dubai to Kuwait City, was a broad river valley dotted with freshwater lakes... this ancient valley became inundated when global sea levels rose rapidly from approximately 10,000 to 4,000 BCE, due to melting of continental ice sheets and thermal expansion of ocean water as it warmed... The sea's advance averaged more than 100 meters per year, and sometimes more than one kilometer per year." 
About sixty well-developed communities along the modern shores of the Persian Gulf date to around 5,000 BCE. The thousands of people dwelling within the fertile basin would have been forced to move and resettle year after year until the waters finally stopped rising and they could lay down more permanent roots. As Smith writes:

"To the region's human inhabitants, living on what is now the muddy seabed of the Persian Gulf, the relentless inundation of their homeland over the course of many generations was surely a noticed and traumatic event. Oral (and eventually written) accounts of their forced migration may have passed down to their descendants and could be the original source of the Gilgamesh Epic, the Old Testament account of Noah and the Ark, and other ancient Great Flood legends." (Read more.)

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Visionary Radicalism of William Blake

From Art in America:
A nation divided against itself and a monarchy beset by scandal. A Tory prime minister by turns humorous and harsh, statesmanlike and petty. A left opposition defeated and hungry for fresh leadership. A cohort of celebrity painters and sculptors in thrall to the 1 percent. And a legion of other artists scraping out livings by any means necessary: commercial work, teaching, modeling, serving food.

The parallels between William Blake’s Britain of the 1790s and the Brexit-era United Kingdom go even further. There emerged among the working classes in the late eighteenth century what the historian E.P. Thompson called “the chiliasm of despair”: a fear, rooted in Christian eschatology and working-class Methodism, that the coming end of the century meant the end of the world.¹ The attitude was bound up with anger over increasing economic inequality, concern about the king’s competence, and alarm over the French Revolution (and, subsequently, the execution of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette).² Urban workers and small tradesmen, anxious about losing what little wealth and status they had, generally preferred the devil they knew (the English king) to the one they didn’t (revolutionary ideas from France). And rural workers, paralyzed by fear of impoverishment and a descent into the degrading system of poor relief, were similarly dispirited. It was a socioeconomic environment of “rich land and poor laborers,” to borrow radical journalist William Cobbett’s characterization of England in the 1820s.³ Here is where Blake’s Britain most closely resembles the UK today, and the United States, too. (Read more.)

Exculpatory Evidence For General Michael Flynn

From The Federalist:
New court documents filed under seal include significant exculpatory information about Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser, an FBI official familiar with the situation told The Federalist on Friday. The new documents, which were filed under seal by the Department of Justice Friday, allegedly include exonerating evidence about Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about his conversations with foreign diplomats as Trump’s top incoming foreign policy adviser and is currently attempting to withdraw his plea, as well as evidence of malfeasance by the FBI during its investigation of Flynn.

According to the FBI official who spoke to The Federalist, FBI general counsel Dana Boente led the charge internally against DOJ’s disclosure of the new materials. Boente, who briefly served as acting Attorney General after Trump became president, personally signed off on one of the federal spy warrants against former Trump campaign affiliate Carter Page. The new documents, which were filed under a protective order by DOJ on Friday, will reflect poorly on the FBI, the official told The Federalist. It is not clear when, or even if, those documents will be unsealed and made available to the public for review. (Read more.)

On Tolkien’s “Fairy Stories”

From The Imaginative Conservative:
Ireland most intuitively comes to mind as such a place, a lost world, where remnants of enchantment are still visible, even palpable. Consider the Irish Fairy Tree, a hidden tree covered in colorful ribbons where wanderers write their wishes and wrap them around its branches. These trees are believed to be the homes of fairies, and it is considered bad luck to cut them down or disturb them. They are often exceptional, standing alone amidst the wild Irish landscape that inspired many a writer; few places are as blessed in myth, folklore, literature, music, and faith as the Emerald Isle. I travelled to Ireland five years ago and was disillusioned (to say the least) by the lack of enchantment and reverence left in the minds of its citizens, but my faith in the reality of the country’s (true) magic was restored—as it will be for any visitor—by walking alone through its green and gray ruins.
The topic of this essay is not Ireland, however, as it would take much more time and space to discuss such a wild and forgotten land. Its scenery, replete with enchantment, opens the theme for this piece, which is a reflection and analysis of Tolkien’s splendid essay “On Fairy Stories.” But first, a poem:
Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.
Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.
Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.
Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

“The Stolen Child” (1889) by W.B. Yeats always echoes when I re-read Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories.” Yeats wrote the poem long before Tolkien delivered the essay as part of the Andrew Lang lectures at the University of St Andrews. Tolkien wrote, “Faerie is a perilous land”—do we sense peril in Yeats’ poem?
We should, but not because the land that he describes is inherently dangerous. What Tolkien called Faerie is such a foreign realm that it is perilous for us. What kind of world is this, where fairies weave “olden dances” (17), mingle their hands and glances (18); where they chase bubbles “while the world is full of troubles” (22) and play tricks on “slumbering trout” (32)? It is a world of enchantment that coexists with our own. Yeats’ “faery” world exists within his native Ireland: Sleuth Wood and Glen-Car. The poem, moreover, is called the “stolen” child, but in reality, the protagonist to whom the fairies speak is never coerced; he leaves willingly, although beckoned by the tempting fairies. He is told to come away with them, “for the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand” (12, 27, 41). This refrain conveys a harsh world from which the protagonist needs to escape. Perhaps the fairies are trying to protect the child from the reality of this world. (Read more.)

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Is Camelot a Myth?

From Ancient Origins:
According to the Historia Regum Britanniae , Arthur was the son of Uther Pendragon, who succeeded his brother, Aurelius Ambrosius, as king of Britain. Incidentally, prior to Aurelius’ story, Geoffrey provides an account of the legendary wizard Merlin. After Uther’s death, Arthur became the new king of Britain.

Geoffrey narrates the deeds of King Arthur, which included the subjugation of the Saxons, the conquest of Norway, Dacia, Aquitaine, and Gaul, and a successful war against the Romans. Arthur’s story comes to an end after he is mortally wounded during a battle with Mordred, whom Geoffrey claims was the king’s nephew. After the battle, Arthur was brought “to the isle of Avalon to be cured of his wounds”. It was there that Arthur “gave up the crown of Britain to his kinsman Constantine, the son of Cador, Duke of Cornwall, in the five hundred and forty-second year of our Lord’s incarnation”. (Read more.)

From Smithsonian:
The first English prose version of the Arthurian legend was penned by Sir Thomas Malory, a knight of uncertain identity who is thought to have turned to a life of crime during England’s Wars of the Roses. Parts of Malory’s tale, which he finished while in prison, were based on a group of 13th-century French romances known as the Vulgate Cycle.
Now, as Steven Morris reports for the Guardian, scholars in the U.K. have announced the discovery of seven manuscript fragments that appear to belong to this Old French sequence—though the texts differ in small but significant ways from known versions of the cycle. (Read more.)

The Coronavirus and 'Inside Clothes'

From The Federalist:
If in the ’60s weekend-casual included blue jeans, even those seem too stiff and formal now. Young people simply roll out of bed, and change pajamas for sweats — basically the same concept. A trained eye is necessary to distinguish which pair is intended for sleep, which for jogging, and which for hanging out with in-laws.

Millennial and Gen Z women have been assimilated into this sartorial indifference from birth. The PJs they wear to sleep are the leggings they wear to play, and half the time they don’t change out of their “play wear” for special occasions. They continue the same clothing habits well into middle age.
The wardrobe of an average American woman is endless, but mostly consisting of what is essentially inside clothes, only she wears them everywhere. It’s not that we leave our homes open to germs, but that the domestic sphere took over the public one. If personal is political, what was once private is now splattered all over. (Read more.)

Catacombs of Paris

From Les Catacombes de Paris:
Paris authorities chose an easily accessible site that was, at the time, located outside the capital: the former Tombe-Issoire quarries under the plain of Montrouge. In operation since at least the fifteenth century and then abandoned, these quarries were a small part of the labyrinth that extended under the city over approximately 800 hectares. Preparation of the site and the organization of bone transfers were entrusted to Charles Axel Guillaumot, an inspector at the Department of General Quarry Inspection. The mission of this department, which had been founded on April 4, 1777, by Louis XVI, was to consolidate the abandoned quarries following major collapses of the ground under Paris in the mid-eighteenth century.

The first evacuations were made from 1785 to 1787 and concerned the largest cemetery in Paris, the Saints-Innocents cemetery, which had been closed in 1780 after consecutive use for nearly ten centuries. The tombs, common graves and charnel house were emptied of their bones, which were transported at night to avoid hostile reactions from the Parisian population and the Church. The bones were dumped into two quarry wells and then distributed and piled into the galleries by the quarry workers. Transfers continued after the French Revolution until 1814, with the suppression of parochial cemeteries, such as Saint-Eustache, Saint-Nicolas-des-Champs and the Bernardins Convent, in the center of Paris. They were begun again in 1840, during urban renovation by Louis-Philippe and the Haussmannian reconfiguration of the city from 1859 to 1860. The site was consecrated as the “Paris Municipal Ossuary” on April 7, 1786, and, from that time forward, took on the mythical name of “Catacombs”, in reference to the Roman catacombs, which had fascinated the public since their discovery.

Starting in 1809, the Catacombs were opened to the public by appointment. A register was placed at the end of the circuit, where visitors could write their impressions. It was filled very rapidly because these visits had quickly become a success with both the French and foreigners. As the years passed, the ossuary became the resting place of many illustrious individuals. In 1787, the Count of Artois, the future Charles X, visited the site in the company of a group of court ladies; in 1814, Francis I, the Austrian emperor, took a tour there; and in 1860, Napoleon III descended into the catacombs with his son. (Read more.)

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

From the Monaco Tribune:
Born in a private mansion overlooking Place de la Concorde in Paris, Béatrice de Rothschild never knew anything but luxury, growing up amidst gilded woodwork, master paintings and furniture crafted by the best woodworkers. In 1905, she was 40 years old and separated from her husband, the Russian banker Maurice Ephrussi. Their differences had been immediately apparent. Without children, she had just inherited a colossal fortune. There was nothing more in her life than time to think and the means to carry out whatever projects she desired. 
Her contemporaries said she was not very accommodating to say the least; according to her cousin Elisabeth de Gramont, Beatrice’s destiny was to “thwart the stupid laws of common sense […] requiring flowers to grow even under the Mistral.” To do this, she blew up the rock, leveled the land and brought in tons of soil. (Read more.)

End the Globalization Gravy Train

From J.D. Vance at The American Mind:
The Chinese state has unleashed a plague that, if we’re lucky, will merely be the worst in a decade rather than the worst in a generation. The CCP has lied and manipulated international institutions in a way that ensures the deaths of thousands of additional Americans. 
The virus has revealed an American economy built on consumption, reliant for production on regimes either indifferent or actively hostile to our national interest. Production, where it still exists in our country, clusters in megacities, where “knowledge economy” workers live uptown from the low-wage servants (disproportionately immigrants) who clean their laundry, care for their children, and serve their food. 
Perhaps we shouldn’t build our cities like that. Perhaps we should make things in America. And if not all things, then at least enough so that the next time China unleashes a plague, it can’t threaten us with a loss of medicines and protective equipment. These are more important debates than whether we should end our lockdowns. Our economy is based on consumption, debt, financialization, and sloth. There is no end to the lockdown that returns our country to health or prosperity if it ignores these facts. The minute before COVID-19 hit, our stock market was at an all-time high, yet our middle class had only seen its net assets grow by 4 percent in over a decade. We have shut down health care facilities—even those far from overwhelmed by COVID-19—to preserve face masks and rubber gloves, because we don’t make enough in our own country for a time of crisis. Can we honestly say the most important question in our public life is whether we should be allowed to eat at restaurants that many would avoid anyways? 
But debate the lockdowns we will, because they are more pressing to the people who fund our political distractions. And what’s more important to them than ending the lockdowns is not ending the globalization gravy train. 
Peter Thiel recently observed that one of the best barometers of globalization is the share of corporate sector profits going to the financial sector. When you have an economy built on borrowing money from China and then buying the stuff it makes, you need a robust financial sector. Getting all that money from the U.S. to China, and then there and back again, takes, well, money. And for two decades, while America has consumed much and made little, there has been no better industry than moving fake currency from one location to another. Even if you zoom out from the finance industry, it is hard to find an American tycoon who hasn’t benefitted, directly or indirectly, from the rise of Beijing. 
And if you look at the boards of most of our big conservative institutions, you’ll find many of those people. Increasingly, they talk a big game about China. They’ll express concern for the Uighurs, who are undoubtedly an oppressed people. They may even encourage a satellite military conflict in the years to come, because it won’t be their children loading the magazines or firing the rifles. 
But there will be precious few resources for those designing the policies to shift a substantial share of our manufacturing capacity back to the United States. There will be limited campaign dollars for politicians who advocate those policies. It is one thing to offer platitudes for the Uighurs, and I suspect we’ll hear many of them in the years to come. It is another thing entirely to tell Apple’s leadership that they can’t flog them half to death for failing to meet production deadlines, or to tell the shareholders that they will no longer benefit from the labor arbitrage of China’s slave camps. It is one thing to whine at NBA owners and superstars for bending the knee to the Chinese Communist Party and another to make them pay for doing so. 
Yet to make the real change would require that we come to grips with the fact that so much of Conservatism, Inc. depends on the status quo. (Read more.)

Ancient Civilizations Timeline

From History Cooperative:
Turkey is home to the world’s most well known Stone-Age city. Its name coming from a blend of the Turkish words meaning “fork” and “mound,” the builders of Çatalhöyük honored the bond between a wandering people and a big river. They chose a waterway on the Konya Plain and settled in, draping their city over two hills. Where ‘Ain Ghazal showcased the huge human shift of the gatherer-farmer transition, Çatalhöyük is the best example known to demonstrate an early urban civilization immersed in agriculture.
Their homes were unusual as they were tightly-packed together and had no windows or doors — to get inside, people climbed through a hatch in the roof. The civilization also lacked grand monuments and elite buildings or areas, a surprising clue that the community might’ve been more equal than most.
The abandonment of Çatalhöyük is a missing page from a mostly successful story. Archaeologists have discovered that the class system likely became more divided and this eventually broke the culture down. However, social unrest is an early and unproven suspect, as only four percent of the entirety of Çatalhöyük has been dug through and examined. The rest, buried and brimming with information, might yet reveal the city’s end in a way that cannot be disputed. (Read more.)

Civilizations that disappeared.  From Little Things:
Easter Island is famous for it’s massive head statues, called Moai. They were made by the Rapa Nui people, who experts think traveled to the island in the middle of the South Pacific using wooden outrigger canoes around 800 C.E. It’s estimated the island’s population was around 12,000 at its peak. The first time European explorers landed on the island was on Easter Sunday in 1722, when the Dutch crew estimated that there were 2,000 to 3,000 inhabitants on the island. Explorers reported fewer and fewer inhabitants as the years went on, until eventually, the population dwindled to less than 100. No one can agree on a definitive reason as to what caused the decline of the islands inhabitants or it’s society. It is likely that the island couldn’t sustain enough resources for such a large population, which led to tribal warfare. Inhabitants could have also starved, as evidenced by the remains of cooked rat bones found on the island (Read more.)

And from ListVerse:
The Indus Valley Civilization was located in an area that spans parts of modern-day Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India, on the plains near the Indus River. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of farming communities as well as entire cities. Two prominent cities that have been excavated are Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. They found that many of the houses had their own wells and bathrooms, along with a sophisticated underground drainage system. Documents found in Sumeria recorded commercial, religious, and artistic events happening in these areas and described their “exotic wares.”
The Indus Valley people had a writing system, but to date, attempts to decipher examples of their writing, found on pottery and copper tablets, have failed. It is not yet clear whether the Indus Valley was a civilization in itself or whether it formed part of a larger kingdom. It would be likely that if it was part of a larger kingdom, artifacts would have been found showing this—statues of known kings, for example, or depictions of wars, but to date, no such articles have been found.[2]
It is entirely possible that the Indus River people were an isolated civilization with their own language and lifestyle, which is only now being uncovered. One of the many structures uncovered is the Great Bath at Mohenjo Daro, measuring 83 square meters (897 ft2), which is believed to have been used for ritual bathing. The reason for the decline of the civilization is unclear. Historians have developed a number of possible theories, including the drying up of the river or, alternatively, flooding, trade difficulties with Mesopotamia, or invasion by an unknown enemy. (Read more.)

Finding wonderful things. From History Today:
In July this year the torso of a large marble statue, approximately 1.5m in height, was excavated in the Forum of Trajan in Rome during a dig conducted by the Sovrintendenza Capitolina and supported by a €1 million donation from the Republic of Azerbaijan. Even though its head, hands and legs are missing, the figure’s cloak, the assumed positioning of its lost hands clasped in front of the waist and the find-spot make the statue identifiable as a captive Dacian warrior – an enemy of Rome from the second century. This find came shortly after the uncovering in May of another statue – an oversized marble head – from the same excavation. The wavy locks of its hair initially led to speculation that the statue was a female deity, before closer inspection revealed the hairstyle to be that of the god Dionysus. Accompanied by videos of dirt being brushed from the folds of the Dacian’s clothing and the features of the god’s face, both finds were widely reported in the international press and then circulated across social media; the discovery of the Dionysus even drew comment from Rome’s mayor, who expressed surprise that such a statue had been found in Rome. Many of these reports took the angle of a discovery of ‘wonderful things’, with little accompanying commentary either about what the importance of the statues might be, or the background and significance of excavations in this area of Rome. Both are subjects worth considering further. (Read more.)

Friday, April 24, 2020

Can Chivalry Return?

From Charles Coulombe:
The Church needs men and women of courage and Godliness today more than at any time in her history. So does this extraordinary country we call home in this world; a nation that still has an immense reservoir of virtue, decency and people of good will. This is why the Catholic ideal of knighthood, with its demands of radical discipleship, is still alive and still needed. The essence of Christian knighthood remains the same: sacrificial service rooted in a living Catholic faith. 
A new “spirit of knighthood” is what we need now — unselfish, tireless, devoted disciples willing to face derision and persecution for Jesus Christ. We serve our nation best by serving God first, and by proving our faith with the example of our lives. Nor is that understanding restricted to His Grace of Philadelphia; Chicago’s Cardinal George famously opined that “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” It is perhaps no coincidence that His Eminence is associated with the local jurisdictions of the Orders of Malta, the Holy Sepulchre, and St. Lazarus. 
It seems that a greater awareness is arising among Catholics, clerical and lay, of the need for the eternal spirit of chivalry. One cannot know if the Knightly organisations of today, ancient or modern, will weather the storm. But certainly their proliferation is a good sign that the yearning for the virtue of honour, loyalty, prowess, courtesy, and all the rest — married to a strong and practical Catholicity — is once again stalking the ruins of Christendom, here and abroad. We shall all need it if the evils of our time are to be resisted. (Read more.)

Myths About the 1918 Flu Pandemic

From Smithsonian:
In the pandemic of 1918, between 50 and 100 million people are thought to have died, representing as much as 5% of the world’s population. Half a billion people were infected. Especially remarkable was the 1918 flu’s predilection for taking the lives of otherwise healthy young adults, as opposed to children and the elderly, who usually suffer most. Some have called it the greatest pandemic in history. The 1918 flu pandemic has been a regular subject of speculation over the last century. Historians and scientists have advanced numerous hypotheses regarding its origin, spread and consequences. As a result, many of us harbor misconceptions about it. By correcting these 10 myths, we can better understand what actually happened and learn how to prevent and mitigate such disasters in the future. (Read more.)

The Sphinx, The Pyramids and Astronomy

Hawass told Egypt Today that ‘the Sun, after falling at sunset on the right side of the Sphinx, heads south, and during the summer it moves to the north’. He believes that this is conclusive evidence that the Sphinx was built with reference to astronomical calculations. Egypt Today states that the discovery of the positioning of the Sphinx shows ‘the tremendous scientific superiority of the ancient Egyptians’. There is evidence that pyramids were aligned based on the movement of the heavenly bodies. Hawass is quoted by Newsweek as stating that: ‘The sun setting between the pyramid of Khufu and Khafra suggests an astronomical link’. 
Ancient Egyptians worshipped the sun and they worshipped it as the god Ra . The Sphinx is believed by mainstream archaeology to have been constructed about 4,500 years ago during the Old Kingdom period. It is widely believed to ‘to have been built for, and to represent, the pharaoh Khafre, who was the son of Khufu’ reports Newsweek
The connection between astronomy and the building of the pyramids has been the subject of intensive investigation for many years. Newsweek states that ‘The Great Pyramid of Giza is known to be almost perfectly aligned to the points of north, south, east and west’. This is a remarkable feat given the limited technology available to the Egyptians . It has been suggested that the remarkable alignment of the pyramid is related to the Autumn or Fall equinox. 
Research, undertaken by Glean Dash, an engineer, reported, ‘the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the Pyramid of Khafre and the Red Pyramid… all three were well aligned’ according to Newsweek. All had one small error, they marginally rotated counter-clockwise from the cardinal points (North, South, East and West). He argues that the Ancient Egyptians used a straight measuring rod and they tracked its shadow, to record the movement of the sun during the equinoxes. (Read more.)

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Enchanting Wisteria

From Victoria:
A vigorous bloomer, wisteria dazzles with grape-like clusters of flowers in shades from white and pink to lilac and bluish purple. The genus thrives in fertile soil and full sun but generally will tolerate conditions that are less than ideal. The burly vines can be trained to clamber up walls, pergolas, or other sturdy supports. Despite the plant’s hardiness in its natural environment, special care must be taken once it has been cut. Splitting woody stems, untangling blossoms, and removing most of the foliage will allow for better water absorption. If fragile tendrils break, showcase their delicate charm in posies. (Read more.)

Ruined Lives

[Warning: Disturbing] From Moira Greyland Peat at Them Before Us:
If you’re OK with that, and you might not be, it is worth your consideration.  If you think I am wrong, that is your privilege, but watch out for the VAST number of stories of sexual abuse AND transgenderism that will come about from these gay “marriages.”  Already the statistics for sexual abuse of children of gays are astronomically high compared to that suffered by the children of straights.

Naturally my perspective is very uncomfortable to the liberal people I was raised with: I am “allowed” to be a victim of molestation by both parents, and “allowed” to be a victim of rather hideous violence. I am, incredibly, NOT ALLOWED to blame their homosexuality for their absolute willingness to accept all sex at all times between all people. But that is not going to slow me down one bit. I am going to keep right on speaking out. I have been silent for entirely too long. Gay “marriage” is nothing but a way to make children over in the image of their “parents” and in ten to thirty years, the survivors will speak out. In the meantime, I will. (Read more.)

And another reason to ditch WHO. From The Federalist:
The WHO is a United Nations entity that was launched as one of the original UN organizations in the late 1940s. In the years that followed, the WHO has undertaken initiatives around the world that have undoubtedly served public health. In more recent decades, however, the WHO has become an avid supporter of the push to sexualize children and of Comprehensive Sexuality Education, which exploits children to alter sexual norms.

On the WHO’s official website, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is listed as one of the WHO’s major partners. Planned Parenthood is one of the largest world abortion providers. Additionally, the names and logos of top-tier UN agencies, including the WHO, all appear on the front cover of UNESCO’S “International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education” published in January 2018. (Read more.)

The Romans and the Irish

From The Irish Times:
The Romans never conquered Ireland. They did not even try. The closest they came was 20 years after the invasion of Anglesey, when Agricola, another governor, eyeballed the north coast of Ulster from the “trackless wastes”of Galloway. According to Tacitus, Agricola’s son-in-law, the governor brazenly remarked that Ireland could have been conquered and occupied by a single legion with a few auxiliaries.
An exiled Irish prince was among Agricola’s entourage, giving rise to the possibility that this was Túathal Techtmar, the son of a deposed high king, who is said to have invaded Ireland from afar in order to regain his kingdom at about this time. Some archaeologists have suggested that Agricola established a bridgehead at Drumanagh, an Iron Age promontory fort that juts into the Irish Sea near Rush, some 20km north of Dublin. The notion that Drumanagh was, at the very least, some form of Roman trading depot was boosted by the discovery of Roman coins, metalwork and tableware at the fort, including fragments of amphorae (pottery) from Pomponius Mela’s homeland in Baetica.
Whether Agricola went on the offensive or not, he certainly fortified parts of Britain’s western shore against attacks from Ireland. Among the many reveals of the 2018 heatwave were the remains of a watchtower on the Llyn Peninsula, just south of Anglesey, complete with barracks for a coastal garrison. In AD 150, some 60 years after Agricola’s death, the Greco-Egyptian writer Claudius Ptolemy devised what is ostensibly the first known map of Ireland, published in Geographia, an atlas of the Roman empire and beyond. Ptolemy pinpointed a number of coastal settlements in Ireland, as well as royal settlements such as Emain Macha (Navan fort) in Co Armagh. He also named 16 Irish tribes, including the Voluntii, or Ulaid, of Ulster and the Gangani of Munster, who may have been connected to what Ptolemy calls the “promontory of the Gangani”on Anglesey. (Read more.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Ballets of the Sun King

Louis XIV Performing
Louis XIV as Apollo
From Messy Nessy:
We might add that the dancing was also pretty radical, effectively codifying the five main ballet foot positions we have today. Check out the tangled constellation of Louis’s routine, which represented his mastery of not just a physical routine but esteemed social etiquette. Today, we consider dance as a hobby. In 18th century aristocratic France, it embodied a codified set of social rules that were as important to know as, say, which fork to use at the banquet.

But the best part is how they practiced: with a teeny tiny violin called a pochette (or “pocket” in French) that a dance teacher would play, trailing beside you, whilst you mastered your fancy footwork: 
With the Molière-Lully-Beauchamp power team, Louis brought ballet as we know it into existence with Les Comédies-Ballets, or “Ballets Comedies.” Not that the implications of a comédie in France were comical. To the contrary, they were rather serious and esteemed (though Molière loved his farce). To this day, Frenchies will raise an eyebrow if you interchangeably use the word for, say, action movie acteurs et actrices (actors and actresses) and comédiens et comédiènnes (more “serious” actors and actresses of the stage variety). Eventually, Louis established the world’s first official royal academy of dance – establishing not only standards for his people, but for the rest of the Western world that endure. Excellence, as they say, à la française. (Read more.)

Nancy and the Nuns

From Church Militant:
In her press release, Pelosi said, "The Trump administration's despicable rule allowing private employers and health plans to deny women coverage for contraception is an outrageous attack on women's health, women's pocketbooks and women's independence."

Journalist Micaiah Bilger noted the disconnect between Pelosi's position on this case and the Faith she professes to uphold: "Like the Little Sisters, Pelosi also identifies as a devout Catholic. However, she constantly opposes Catholic Church teachings about the sanctity of human life and fights against religious freedom for the very faith that she claims to be a part of."
In 2016, the Court unanimously ruled that the Little Sisters should not be forced, in violation of Church teaching, to comply with the Health and Human Services (HHS) requirement to select a healthcare plan for themselves and their employees that included contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

In 2018, in support of the Supreme Court decision, the Trump administration issued the rule that Pelosi recently slammed. The rule protected non-profits and religious organizations, which, out of conscience, wanted exemption for the HHS contraception mandate. Twenty states objected to the Trump administration's rule and sued the federal government. Of those suits, two remain, one from the left-leaning Ninth Circuit Court and the other from the Third Circuit Court. (Read more.)

The Day America Raided England

From Heritage Daily:
On April 22nd, 1778, a lone USS Naval ship carried out a daring raid during the American Revolutionary War on the town of Whitehaven in England. It was a clear night and the frost had begun to settle across the west coast of Cumbria. Two boats were lowered around 11.00pm from the USS Ranger, a 308 long ton (313 t) sloop-of-war in the Continental Navy, armed with 18 × 6-pounder guns. The Ranger was commanded by John Paul Jones, often referred to as the “Father of the American Navy” (a sobriquet he shares with John Barry and John Adams). John Paul Jones was born in 1747 and grew up in Scotland, serving as a commander of several British merchant ships. After having killed one of his crew members with a sword, he fled to the Colony of Virginia in 1775 and joined the newly founded Continental Navy in their fight against the British. (Read more.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

No Comparison

I left a comment on this article asking that Madame Speaker Pelosi not be compared with Marie-Antoinette. The Queen never said "Let them eat cake." She was deeply aware of the plight of the people which is why she organized clothing drives and distributed blankets, took in unwed mothers and orphans, and made a priority of feeding the hungry, all of which is documented. She was killed because she was a Catholic Queen and the Revolution wanted to overthrow the Church and the monarchy. Here is what Marie-Antoinette really said: "It is quite certain that in seeing the people who treat us so well despite their own misfortune, we are more obliged than ever to work hard for their happiness." More HERE, HERE and HERE.


Wake Up and Smell the Alinsky

From Cheryl Chumley at The Washington Times:
America’s frustration — sane Americans’ frustration — grows.

“A revolutionary organizer,” Alinsky wrote, “must shake up the prevailing patterns of their lives — agitate, create disenchantment and discontent with the current values, to produce, if not a passion for change, at least a passive, affirmative, non-challenging climate.”

Like waiting on the coronavirus “welfare” stimulus checks — afraid to rock the government hand-out boat? This is not to say that coronavirus is a manufactured ailment aimed at bringing down America, a la Alinsky style, a la planned and purposeful and plotted from the get-go, from the very beginning. But: Coronavirus has certainly given an opportunity for the left to exercise its power-lust grabs of individual freedoms. Coronavirus has presented the chance for the likes of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — who’s busily stamping out any seed of freedom in her state of Michigan — to flex ye olde Gestapo muscles and send chilling messages to freedom-minded Americans that government can do as it wishes. That government can even suspend the Constitution if it wishes. Stay-at-homers ought to take the stay-at-home time to read a bit of Alinsky, through the veins of these modern crushing times. The applications of then-to-now, of words-to-wings of reality, will prove eye-opening. Eye-opening and rousing, hopefully. (Read more.)

The Iroquoian Study

New Cornell University research is producing a more accurate historical timeline for the occupation of Native American sites in upstate New York, based on radiocarbon dating of organic materials and statistical modeling. The results from the study of a dozen sites in the Mohawk Valley were recently published in the online journal PLoS ONE by Sturt Manning, professor of classical archaeology; and John Hart, curator in the research and collections division of the New York State Museum in Albany. The findings, Manning said, are helping to refine our understanding of the social, political, and economic history of the Mohawk Valley region at the time of early European intervention.
The work is part of the Dating Iroquoia Project , involving researchers from Cornell, the University of Georgia, and the New York State Museum, and supported by the National Science Foundation. The new paper continues and expands upon research on four Iroquoian ( Wendat) sites in southern Ontario, published by the project team in 2018. Using similar radiocarbon dating and statistical analysis methods, the 2018 findings also impacted timelines of Iroquoian history and European contact. (Read more.)

Monday, April 20, 2020

A Tradition of Tea

From Victorian Trading Company:
While teatime originated as an upper-class luxury, it was soon popularized among the working class, and by the latter part of the 19th century had become a mainstay of daily Victorian culture. Contrary to modern-day conceptions of the term, “High Tea” actually referred to the teatime of the working class, which occurred at the end of a day’s work and was more of a meal, served at high dining tables. No dainty pastries and finger sandwiches were to be found here… instead, fare such as meats, cheeses, bread, and pickled vegetables washed down with tea.

By the 1880s, teatime had become a fashionable affair. High society would dress for the occasion in gloves, hats, and formal wear and receive company in the drawing-room between 4 and 5 o’clock for a teatime social hour. Otherwise, they would attend a luxury hotel’s afternoon tea service. Teatime is still alive and well in British culture and remains a widespread observance all over the world. I tend to agree with Henry James on this one: “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” (Read more.)

Parents in the U.S. Worry about Their Children's Emotional & Mental Wellbeing

From Zenit:
Sixty-seven percent of parents are somewhat or extremely worried about their child’s emotional and mental wellbeing because of the virus. When children were asked how they were feeling, approximately half reported being bored (52%) or worried (49%). One in three reported being scared (34%), and one in four reported being anxious (27%), confused (24%), stressed (23%) and/or unhappy (22%). Forty-nine percent of children are worried a relative will contract the virus. 
The results are part of a first-of-its-kind national survey of 1,500 households that asked children (6-18) and parents how the virus has affected their daily lives and how they are feeling as a result. Related to education, 52 percent of children are worried that they will not learn enough to be ready for school in the fall. Most (51%) report spending two or three hours per day on school work, with only 4 percent spending six hours on schoolwork, which is the average length of a normal school day. Like their children, 66% of parents want to ensure their child does not fall behind in school. More than half of parents with young children (53%) are worried their child will not be ready to enter kindergarten in the fall. 
The social implications of school closures and social distancing were also top of mind for children with three in four being worried about missing out on end of school year and after school activities (74%) and 70 percent upset about not being able to say goodbye to friends. Parents report a wide range of concerns relating to caregiving and employment. Money is parents’ top concern (71%), followed by not being able to see older relatives (68%). As a result of the virus, the majority of parents (51%) report having changed the way they are managing the household budget to pay for food and other essential items. Twenty-eight percent are trying to juggle working from home to look after their children. Twenty-six percent have lost wages or taken a pay cut. 
“This survey shows that children are really feeling the impact of being out of school and away from their friends and routine,” said Janti Soeripto, President and CEO of Save the Children. “This is an unprecedented time for the country and the world, and it is critical we listen to children and support them during this crisis. We are particularly concerned about the most vulnerable children who may not have access to enough food at home, don’t have the means to take advantage of online learning, and who are having to spend more time in abusive home environments.” 
The results, however, were not entirely negative. Seventy-two percent of children reported that they are excited to spend more time with their family and sixty-one percent of parents said they are looking forward to taking a bigger role in their child’s schoolwork. (Read more.)

“We Need to Be Distrustful of Socialist Propaganda”

From TFP:
Pope Benedict XV exhorts them to recall the following fundamental points:
  • No one receives the gift of being truly happy in this short mortal life because true, perfect and eternal happiness awaits us only in heaven as a reward for those who lived well.
  • Thus, all our actions must aim toward this goal.
  • Instead of being so zealous of our rights, we must also consider fulfilling our duties.
  • While we can improve our living conditions in this mortal life and obtain greater well-being, nothing is more beneficial for the common good than harmony and concord between all social classes, achieved with Christian charity.
(Read more.)

Sunday, April 19, 2020

But Will They Face Justice?

From The Stream:
The seditious infection inflicted on the Trump campaign and administration by Comey’s FBI and the Obama legions has been further exposed. Though lost in the 110-decibel coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, two words from Friday will ultimately echo louder: “They knew.” 
The FBI — James Comey and Andrew McCabe’s FBI — knew Russia had fed false propaganda to Christopher Steele. Propaganda the FBI was using to justify spying on the Trump campaign.

This shocking information was discovered in a footnote de-classified Friday from the DOG Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s FISA abuse.

At some point in 2017, an FBI unit discovered Russia had spoon-fed disinformation to Steele, hoping to interfere with the election. The unit was also suspicious of Christopher Steele’s ties to a Russian oligarch. (The Daily Caller‘s Chuck Ross has the details. As does John Solomon.)

And yet, the spying continued. And yet, the special counsel was appointed. And yet, Robert Mueller’s squadron of Trump hunters and haters was allowed to run wild on our dime. (Read more.)

Old Traditions, New Conversations

From ISI:
Now, I admit that I prefer the imagination of the Tolkien or Lewis variety. Narnia takes traditional fairy tale themes and weaves them into a new story, and Lewis’s own Christian faith is evident in the works themselves. Tolkien’s epic is even more clearly Christian in formation and structure; in addition, his language creation introduced generations of readers to Old English, Old Norse, and other languages. And some of the set pieces, such as the siege of Gondor, echo historical events, in that case the siege of Vienna by the Ottomans in 1683.
So in a real sense these more recent works are clearly in conversation with the older tradition in a way that allows us to enter into a larger moral universe. Aragorn is the same kind of person as, say, King Arthur; the temptation of the Ring is like the doctrine of original sin, and so forth. Indeed, in his recent book Beyond Tenebrae, for example, Birzer argues for a tradition of Christian humanism that includes Tolkien and extends to writers like Flannery O’Connor, Walter Miller, and even to a degree Margaret Atwood.
And the examples need not only be contemporary. I often think of a collection of Sicilian folk music I listened to: one selection, recorded in the 1950s, featured a traveling puppeteer reenacting scenes from Orlando Furioso to an audience of largely unlettered paesani. A conservative must be able to articulate why that is more enriching than the same person reenacting, say, the destruction of Alderaan or Wakanda.
But while I would like to think that Narnia and Middle-earth will outlast some of these more ephemeral cultural products, I am not sure that will be the case. How long things last relates in some sense to how true they are to human experience, but history has a long arc. It’s possible that in the near future you may use Slytherin as an adjective for a certain type of person the way we now say “doubting Thomas.” And we won’t remember the genealogy of either.
We see that already in some online political commentary, where everything is related to the Harry Potter “universe” rather than some older touchstone. And conservatives have long admired Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz, and what is that book other than an exploration of how even the strongest pillars of a civilization get forgotten, reworked, or lost?
Nor do I think the “organic” argument works. Organic is too freighted with the idea that cultures have “natural” forms, usually coincident with some variously defined people or race. But that is not the whole or even the entirely true story. Culture is derived from many sources, some as gift or by adoption as much as through internal growth. In the case of Europe, parts of Africa and elsewhere, Christianity is a core component, although it is an import that originated in the Near East.
Beowulf may serve as an example. That poem exists in only a single manuscript copy, and was rediscovered and published in a first edition only in 1815. Before that, evidence of its influence and circulation is almost nonexistent. To say this poem is “organic” is not particularly illuminating about its value or role in our culture. (Read more.)

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Soviet Science Magazines

From Atlas Obscura:
A tall stele rises from a deeply cratered surface, casting a long, ominous shadow past a row of smaller towers. Straight lines connect the structures to each other, like streets on a map or the projected moves in a game of cosmic chess. The Earth floats serenely in the dark sky, next to the logo that reads Tekhnika—molodezhi, Russian for Technology for the Youth, a Soviet popular science magazine that launched in 1933. The magazine cover, from 1969, illustrated an article highlighting photographs from Luna 9, the Soviet unmanned spacecraft that was the first to survive a landing on the Moon a few years earlier.
This imagined moonscape is one of more than 250 otherworldly images from the upcoming, visually delightful book, Soviet Space Graphics: Cosmic Visions from the USSR, by Alexandra Sankova, director and founder of the Moscow Design Museum, which collaborated on the book with her. Space Age artwork proliferated alongside the Soviet Union’s popular science magazines—there were up to 200 titles at their peak—during the Cold War. From the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, in particular, the cosmos became a battleground for world powers jockeying for global dominance. Though the Space Age began with the successful launch of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1, it was the United States that, just three years after Luna 9, first put a man on a moonscape like the one on the magazine cover.
Soviet illustrations, even ones with whizzing UFOs and bafflingly futuristic machines, were not drawn to entertain as much as to educate and promote the Communist project. An open letter from cosmonauts to the public in a 1962 issue of Technology for the Youth read “… each of us going to the launch believes deeply that his labor (precisely labor!) makes the Soviet science and the Soviet man even more powerful, and brings closer that wonderful future—the communist future to which all humanity will arrive.” Scientists, astronauts, and aircraft engineers were treated like legends, since outer space was such an important idea in the Soviet Union, according to Sankova. “Achievements of the USSR in the field of space have become a powerful weapon of propaganda,” she says. Soviet citizens lived vicariously through such images, and even the more surreal and fantastical visuals—living in space, meeting new life forms—demonstrated that the idea of cultural revolution need not be limited to Earth. (Read more.)