No More Quirky Internet

A brief essay from Dan Harvey published in Warren Ellis’ email newsletter (Orbital Operations) this week:

This is why our once quirky, random, charming web has devolved into one colossal attention harvesting mechanism. The Internet is chock full of “commercial junk” in the words of Tim Wu. At the centre of all this are “data factories” and “attention merchants” like Facebook and Twitter. They are all attempting to capture your most scarce resource — your attention — and take it hostage for money. Your captive attention is worth billions to them in advertising revenue.

Being away from most forms of social media (no Facebook, no Instagram) and attending more to newsletters and blogs has confirmed, for me, Harvey’s observation. Long live the quirky, random, charming web!

Paradise is Somewhere

“I mean,” he said with increasing vehemence, “that if there be a house for me in heaven it will either have a green lamp-post and a hedge, or something quite as positive and personal as a green lamp-post and a hedge. I mean that God bade me love one spot and serve it, and do all things however wild in praise of it, so that this one spot might be a witness against all the infinities and the sophistries, that Paradise is somewhere and not anywhere, is something and not anything. And I would not be so very much surprised if the house in heaven had a real green lamp-post after all.” (109)

-Innocent Smith as quoted by Louis Hara in his letter about having met Smith in the Sierra Mountains in California.

 

Source

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

Forgetting What You Know

“You know the house, then?” I said.

“Too well,” he answered, and with a sadness so strange as to have something eerie about it. “I am always trying to forget what I know–and to find what I don’t know” (90).

–Innocent Smith stealing his own wine from his own house, having led a clergyman to believe that he’s stealing from a complete stranger.

 

Source

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

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.