Domestic Justice

“…It is really true that human beings might often get some sort of domestic justice where just now they can only get legal injustice–oh, I am a lawyer, too, and I know that as well. It is true that there’s too much official and indirect power. Often and often the thing a whole nation can’t settle is just the thing a family could settle. Scores of young criminals have been fined and sent to jail when they ought to have been thrashed and sent to bed. Scores of men, I am sure have had a lifetime at Hanwell when they only wanted a week at Brighton. There is something in Smith’s notion of domestic self-government; and I propose that we put it in practice. You have the prisoner, you have the documents. Come, we are a company of free, white, Christian people, such as might be besieged in a town or cast up on a desert island. Let us do this thing ourselves. Let us go into that house there and sit down and find out with our own eyes and ears whether this thing is true or not; whether this Smith is a man or a monster. If we can’t do a little thing like that, what right have we to put crosses on ballot papers?” (48)

-Michael arguing that Innocent Smith should be tried privately instead of publicly.

 

Source

Chesterton, G. K. Manalive. 1912. Dover, 2000.

 

Force in the Iliad

“The true hero, the true subject, the center of the Iliad, is force. Force as man’s instrument, force as man’s master, force before which human flesh shrinks back. The human soul, in this poem, is shown always in its relation to force: swept away, blinded by the force it thinks it can direct, bent under the pressure of the foce to which it is subjected. Those who had dreamed that force, thanks to progress, now belonged to the past, have seen the poem as a historic document; those who can see that force, today as in the past, is at the center of all human history, find in the Iliad its most beautiful, its purest mirror.”

“Force is what makes the person subjected to it into a thing.”

-Simon Weil, “The Iliad, or The Poem of Force”

*In his introduction to Robert Fagles’ translation of the Iliad, Bernard Knox notes that Weil’s essay was scheduled to be published in the Nouvelle Revue Francaise, but “before it could be printed Paris was in the hands of the Nazis.” Weil knew of what she spoke.

 

Source

Knox, Bernard. Introduction. The Iliad, by Homer, translated by Robert Fagles, Penguin, 1990, pp. 3-64.

Imprudent Marriages

“Imprudent marriages!” roarded Michael. “And pray where in earth or heaven are there any prudent marriages? Might as well talk about prudent suicides. You and I have dawdled round each other long enough, and are we any safer than Smith and Mary Gray who met last night? You never know a husband till you marry him. Unhappy! Of course you’ll be unhappy! Who the devil are you that you shouldn’t be unhappy, like the mother that bore you? Disappointed! Of course we’ll be disappointed! I, for one, don’t expect till I die to be so good a man as I am at this minute, for just now I’m fifty thousand feet high, a tower with all the trumpets shouting.” (31)

–Michael Moon proposing marriage to Rosamund Hunt in the novel Manalive by G. K. Chesterton

 

Source

Chesterton, G. K. Manalive. 1912. Dover, 2000.

Communities are not Artificial Constructs

Jake Meador on the problem with the de facto liberal view of what a community is:

The claim of liberalism’s defenders is that the crisis of our day is something less comprehensive than the liberal social order. So we can resolve the problem without tampering too much with the markets or modern ideas about religion or free speech. The sources are fine, they tell us. The problem is something different. You can distinguish, we are told, liberal proceduralism from liberal ideology. You can attack some lesser form of idolatry or false religious belief and retain our current market systems.

To which the post-liberals respond: The logic of contemporary progressivism is that human communities are artificial constructs. Identities are not given; they are manufactured. Any community that hinders the work of an individual narrating their own identity across their life is thus unjust and evil and should be socially marginalized at the least. This is the justification for progressive extremism on abortion and their historically unprecedented sexual revisionism.

 

This is not Vanity

The final lines from Ezra Pound’s “Canto LXXXI:”

What thou lovest well remains,
                                                  the rest is dross
What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage
Whose world, or mine or theirs
                                            or is it of none?
First came the seen, then thus the palpable
        Elysium, though it were in the halls of hell,
What thou lovest well is thy true heritage
What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee
The ant’s a centaur in his dragon world.
Pull down thy vanity, it is not man
Made courage, or made order, or made grace,
         Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down.
Learn of the green world what can be thy place
In scaled invention or true artistry,
Pull down thy vanity,
                                        Paquin pull down!
The green casque has outdone your elegance.
“Master thyself, then others shall thee beare”
       Pull down thy vanity
Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail,
A swollen magpie in a fitful sun,
Half black half white
Nor knowst’ou wing from tail
Pull down thy vanity
                        How mean thy hates
Fostered in falsity,
                        Pull down thy vanity,
Rathe to destroy, niggard in charity,
Pull down thy vanity,
                       I say pull down.
But to have done instead of not doing
                     this is not vanity
To have, with decency, knocked
That a Blunt should open
               To have gathered from the air a live tradition
or from a fine old eye the unconquered flame
This is not vanity.
         Here error is all in the not done,
all in the diffidence that faltered  .  .  .

And here’s a video of Ezra Pound as an old man reciting these final lines:

Fathers and Megalomaniacs

A second post in one day!

I’ve fallen behind in reading the series of newsletters I read on a weekly basis. And this most recent cycle has been very good.

Martyn Wendell Jones has a great newsletter, Dang, where he reflects on having recently become a new father. As a new father myself, it’s been a wonderful reading companion.

From last week’s edition:

I want to be a father who stays; I already want Fox to stay as well. As our culture continues moving into decadence and repeating crisis—as I watch Fox roll with sudden ease, raise himself on his elbows, and look to the walls—I wonder if his hungry life will take him far away from me someday, too.

Starbuck couldn’t deter Ahab from his fate; perhaps it’s telling that the first mate’s name has taken on a more primary association with a massive corporation, the owner of which wants to pilot the ship of government simply because he thinks he’s the right one to do it. This world makes seaborne megalomaniacs of us all.

 

History that begins with Confession

A timely and insightful argument from Matt Anderson on the relationship between evangelical and LGBT communities:

As an evangelical Christian, taking history seriously means beginning with something like confession. If the LGBT community is in fact motivated to constrain religious expression out of vindictiveness, the question naturally arises whether we Christians deserve it. Any sober answer can only acknowledge the misuses and abuses of power and politics by conservative Christians in their defense of traditional marriage. As legitimate as concerns about the importance of marriage to the common good are, the argument was sometimes pursued by activists and ordinary citizens (even if not by lawyers or other leaders) in ways that undermined our credibility with those we were ostensibly seeking to persuade. At the same time, our failures to uphold appropriate sexual norms within our own communities—such as the Catholic sex scandal, or rampant divorce within evangelicalism—made us too easily susceptible to charges of hypocrisy. Moreover, we required instant transformation of gay and lesbian individuals within our own communities, burdening them with wildly unrealistic expectations and subsequently exhausting them.

Read the whole thing and subscribe to his newsletter.