Best Books I Read This Year 2021

Comedia – Dante Alighieri

Now known as The Divine Comedy. This work of Dante is his imagined and poetic journey through the afterlife, in three books. The poet Virgil guides him through Inferno (Hell) and most of Purgatorio (Purgatory), but must stop because he was pagan, and cannot ascend fully. Beatrice, a woman Dante loved in real life guides him for the rest, to the pinnacle of Paradiso (Heaven). I read the Longfellow translation, with the Doré illustrations as a guide.

The journey is harrowing at times. Those in Hell must suffer for eternity, and cannot be redeemed. They live with no light of Lord upon them. All throughout, demons torture the condemned souls and the journey is disheartening. (It would not surprise me one wit to hear this version of Hell inspired Milton’s Paradise Lost 300 years later.)

But he cried out: “Be none of you malignant!” Inferno, Canto XXI, 72.

In Purgatory, it gets worse. The souls scrambling to climb a vast mountain are always being dragged back down by the things they cannot let go of. This is a parable for the suffering of our times, of those who cannot let go of their illusions and transcend their faults. Finally, Beatrice brings Dante to Heaven, where he ascends, not to meet God, but to merely be in his presence and to be filled with his light.

I recommend you read it, and have Gustav Doré’s prints handy when you do. It is brilliant, harrowing, full of despair, but also full of lessons on how, before you shuffle off your mortal coil, you may avoid living in and creating hell and suffering in this life.

DerFragebogen.jpg

Fragebogen – Ernst Von Salomon

I’ve written about this before in this blog. Ernst Von Salomon was a German writer who had a coloured history in Germany after WWI. He joined the Freikorps (“free corps”), and fought against Communist rebels, the armies of the Baltic States, and also against Poland between 1919-1921. After the Freikorps disbanded, he went on to participate in the assassination of Foreign Minister Walter Rathenau, for which he was given five years in prison. He was also involved in various other subversive activities and uprisings. He, in my impression, was a man who was smart but with an inclination to fuck shit up. During the Third Reich, he wrote film scripts, some for Nazi propaganda purposes. He did not like the Nazis, and they felt the same. But I guess you do what you have to.

Fragebogen is von Salomon’s personal history of the period from the end of World War I to the end of World War II. It is told in his very snarky answers to a questionnaire he was forced to respond to after the Americans occupied western Germany in 1945. The questions delve into his associations, politics, criminal record, and work history. His answers, and his detailed narrative descriptions of the basis for his answers, provide his personal story along with the history and politics of the time and places he was in. The interwar period in Germany, with its Weimar Republic and political, social and economic instability, does not appear as bad as the sum of its disasters. All of these things affected Germans in different ways, and von Salomon was savvy enough to keep his head above water. But, what is beyond doubt is that after 15 years of instability and the grinding reparations and conditions of the Versailles Treaty, Germany was willing to give power to anyone promising a return to stability and pride. Hence, Hitler.

Von Salomon does not hold back when describing the conditions of the final fall of Germany in 1945, nor his treatment at the hands of the occupying Americans. Anti-Nazi or not, the Americans saw him as dangerous, and kept him in a concentration camp for over a year. As occupiers, the Americans were brutal, and other sources tell me (I cannot find them now) that his wife Ille was gang raped by American GIs while he was beaten in the same room.

It is not an easy book, but it does make sense of what was going on with Germany in the interwar period.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbo[u]rs -Joseph Barber

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, Why the United States Provokes Canadians  by Joseph Barber - First edition -

What is a Canadian? This is the question Joseph Barber proposed to answer. He took a year long trip across Canada in the mid-1950s, and this book documents what he found. Barber himself was an American, and at the time, was a former Bostonian writer living in New York City. He pondered this question in detail because, when asked what ‘Canadian’ was, you often get the following answers:

American: “Canadians are just like us.”
Canadian: “We’re nothing like Americans!”
The rest of the world: “Kanada…Kanada…um, I hear you have big mountains. I went to Banff/Vancouver/Toronto for a few days. People were polite.”

As it was written prior to 1970, it was difficult to find. Ottawa has done an excellent job of making sure that if a book does not fit THEIR narrative of Canadian identity, then it disappears.

Barber ends up not describing Canadian identity as such. Such a task is impossible in my Canuckistani view: a country this big cannot have one identity. People in St. John’s have a slightly different culture from those in Halifax, and from those in Fredericton. By the time you get to Ontario and Quebec, there are significant differences and the further west you head, to starker those differences become. No one is surprised. (Except for the Cultural Communists in Ottawa. They have been trying to make one culture for Canada for almost 50 years now. They, as governments always do, waste billions, and only make the matter worse.) I digress.

Rather, this book is an exploration of the interrelation between the United States of America and Canada, economically and culturally. Starting from the Statute of Westminster in 1931, the United Kingdom severed ties with Canada, leaving it to chart its own course in North America. The United States of course played a large role in Canada’s development. I was not aware of the degree of investment in Canada by corporations, individuals, and foundations from United States. Much of our media is from the US. Significant donations were made to Canadian universities by American foundations, such as Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller. Many large infrastructure projects in Canada were sponsored, paid for, owned, and built, largely from American money. (Examples include the Transmountain Pipeline and the Alaska Highway.) Further, there has always been a strong economic interaction between the US and Canada, as economic measures taken on one side of the border often impact those on the other.

What is most profound about this work is how very hidden and buried our interrelation with the US is. Ottawa and our media seem to despise the idea that there is any connection to the United States, and so ignore it completely. Information for immigrants coming to Canada, or those seeking citizenship, contains little to no information about relations with the United States. For Ottawa, the USA is only good for divide and conquer forms of propaganda. Often, the conceit is to say how much better Canada is than America, because we have (notionally) universal health care and are not “gun obsessed”. But most Canadians know this is not true, and the reality is much more complicated.

According to Barber, at the time the largest source of immigration to Canada was the United States, and so it was the primary destination for emigrants from Canada as well. We were the largest trading partners in the world and this continues to this day. Culturally, the border is practically porous. I, as a prairie boy, am much more likely to have common linguistic and cultural characteristics with people living just south of me over the border than I am with those living two provinces away. It’s not to say that Canadians do not share much in common. We do, like language, some values, systems of law and commerce, and a common contempt for our imperial overlords in Ottawa. As a friend put it, he moved from Denver to Calgary, and pretty well fit right in. Later, moving from Calgary to Fredericton was a culture shock so profound he left within a year.

Read this book if you want a snapshot of the issues in US/Canada relations from the first half of the 20th century, and you want to understand the nature of Canada’s relationship with the USA. America is an empire, and we are its vassal. Overall, that’s worked out very well for us.

Baudolino – Umberto Eco

Baudolino: Eco, U.: 9788845278624: Books - Amazon.ca

Do not trust history. It is full of scoundrels. Or, lofty men with lofty talents and lofty ambitions must tell lofty lies. So goes two of the many themes of this magnificent book, a fictional account of the life of Baudolino. Baudolino recounts his life story to a fellow traveler, to explain how Baudolino ends up in Constantinople when it is sacked in 1204 by the Fourth Crusade.

As a boy he is taken from his family in Alessandria and adopted by the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I. Baudolino seems to have some innate talent with languages. He later is sent to Paris for a formal education, attempts to seduce the Emperor’s wife, stops the Emperor from destroying his native village (by pure deception), lives in Italy with a lovely wife and unborn child he loses due to the negligent actions of a soldier, travels to central Asia in search of the kingdom of Prester John, meets a lovely young satyr who bears him a son, which are forever lost to him when the White Huns invade. After years of slavery he escapes, rides a griffon to Constantinople, just in time for the Christians to start wrecking the place. In the turmoil, he learns the truth about Frederick’s death and about great deceptions involving the preserved head(s) of John the Baptist.

Baudolino is a scoundrel. His accomplices are other scoundrels. Their deceits and treacheries are of the highest order, as if guided by some polymath god of medieval history and semiotics. There were times when I laughed out loud in public listening to this book, so absurd and preposterous were some of the acts of Baudolino and his companions. Most of the time they appear to be trying to do good, and yet are so devious about it I could not actually ever like them.

As much of a scoundrel as he is, you feel for Baudolino, when he suffers, has his heart broken, loses his wives and children, but also in his jubilant times and his victories. But, one cannot read it without feeling like Baudolino’s tale might just be pulling a long con (and Umberto Eco, pulling a shorter but much deeper con in the process). This was the second time I’ve encountered the book, listening to the audio book version.

I highly recommend this book as it is funny, entertaining, and even educational at times. But beware, it is a lofty book with lofty aspirations, and so, it must have lofty…

If you are proud, you are the devil.
If you are sad, you are his son.
If you worry over a thousand things, you are his never-resting servant.

Umberto Eco.

Honourable Mentions:

White Fang, by Jack London. (A wolf’s life shows us that you may trample on a vital spirit all you want: it will prevail.)

Submission, by Michele Houellebecq. (Why France will convert to Islam, and like it.)

And for some much needed comic relief, Finally, Some Good News, by Delicious Tacos.

Review – Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West : McCarthy, Cormac:  Amazon.ca: Books

The universe is no narrow thing and the order within it is not constrained by any latitude in its conception to repeat what exists in one part in any other part. Even in this world more things exist without our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way. For existence has its own order and that no man’s mind can compass, that mind itself being but a fact among others.

What force exists that causes man to seek to conquer savage lands? To take the cultures, society, and all other evidence of their existence and obliterate it so that it can be replaced. It is War. Not the tactics and strategy and logistics and formations and battle. It is not the instrument by which one society conquers another. But a universal force within man and without. And it transcends God and Devil, Good and Evil. Everyone has a part to play in this life, but only those who immerse themselves in carnage and feel its impulses speaking to their inmost desire, only they understand War. This is the central theme of Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West.*

The story begins in the childhood of the kid. He is given no name throughout the novel. His birth killed his mother, and has no family he knows save an unknown sister and a resentful father. He runs away from home (in Tennessee) at 14, illiterate. He survives working odd jobs where he can, stealing sometimes, and develops a taste for whisky. His spirit is mean and base and he gets into fights he cannot handle.

One night, he has a misunderstanding with a Mexican bartender and breaks two bottles of whisky over his head, pushing the shards of the second through the man’s eye. Such violence attracts the attention of scalp hunters, who pick him up as part of their crew as they venture into west Texas and the Mexican frontier looking for Apaches to scalp for bounty. This goes very very wrong and the kid survives, and then is picked up by the Glanton Gang, a true to life gang that roamed the southwest in 1849-1850, also looking to profit from Apache deaths.

While Captain Glanton is the leader of the gang, the spiritual leader and guide is the Judge. He is a seven-foot tall, hairless, white, shameless, giant of a man. He is a master of diplomacy and languages. He commands all men from loftier heights and purposes. One of his hobbies is to write in journals about all he finds and discovers in the desert. He draws diagrams of the flora and fauna, of the buildings, artifacts and pictographs and implements left by long extinct tribes of man. He then destroys those things forever. When asked why he copies them if he just destroys them, he states that he also destroys what he writes as well. He is a force of obliteration.

What follows is wanton carnage as the gang first takes Apache scalps, then any scalp they can lay hands upon. Even those of locals, whose governments pay them bounties the gang relies on. They collect the bounties, praised as heroes by the townspeople they allegedly protect. But the notion is dispelled as each town they pass through is stained by the pure excesses of their reveries after the slaughter. Their depredations and savagery are only exceeded by their avarice. And once you’ve burned that many bridges, eventually things are going to go to hell.

War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.

While the kid is prominent, he is not the protagonist. Although, most reviews label him so.** However, he is not mentioned in long stretches of the book. One may argue the Judge is the protagonist, but I think the answer is deeper. The protagonist is the universal force mentioned above: War. The Judge is its embodiment on Earth. But like all things of flesh, it needs renewal.

The kid, in his time with the Glanton Gang and later on in North Texas in the 1870s, is tested thrice. He fails the first two, but the third is the charm. He takes the life of a young boy about the age he was when he fled Tennessee, in defence, but also acknowledging that the boy will come to no good and will end badly. Having embraced the role of judge of lives of other men, he is then absorbed into the living embodiment of War. He now calls the tune of the great dance that all play a role in.***

This is the nature of war, whose stake is at once the game and the authority and the justification. Seen so, war is the truest form of divination. It is the testing of one’s will and the will of another within that larger will which because it binds them is therefore forced to select. War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence. War is god.

Thus, the Judge’s statement that started this review is revealed as a guide for interpreting the story. Just as we cannot in our own lives know everything, so too can the reader not understand all of the book. As you weave your way through this melee of violence, the path you take becomes the meaning.

I have read this book three times now, and every time I return I find new meaning in the tapestry of blood and violence within it. The first time I was stunned mute by its rapacious slaughter and waste. The second, firmly committed to engaging in the ‘dance’, and accepting the dark violence within myself and in humanity, and rejecting my cowardice, which governed me for about half my life. I will read it again in four years, and I will see if there are lessons within about War being ever present, and so, learning to pick your battles well so you are in harmony with it. I bet I find what I am looking for.

I cannot recommend this book. I can say I want you to read it because I wonder what effect it may have on you. It is a maze and in winding your way through it you may find meaning and with enough courage, embrace it. Do not fear it:

Only that man who has offered himself up entire to the blood of war, who has been to the floor of the pit and seen horror in the round and learned at last that it speaks to his innermost heart, only that man can dance. Even a dumb animal can dance.



*I’m sure McCarthy might disagree, but this is the book he created, and in it he gives me licence to make these errors. Contrary to rumours, there is no indication Mr. McCarthy reads this blog.

**Most reviews of this book are just trash. People are so overwhelmed by the blood and carnage in the book, they fail to even try to see anything deeper. Always be suspect of books which initially were ignored, only to be raised to the pinnacle later because it is fashionable to do so. I know, this book and Moby Dick, which are superlative, were treated that way. But so was The Luminaries, and I feel Umberto Eco’s estate is owed royalties on that one.

***To digress, waxing politically, this revelation is why Conservatives inevitably fail. Much like the Judge, the ‘Left’ that is tearing down their society is not doing it to make paradise on Earth, is not there to compromise. It is there to catalog and then wipe out every trace of what came before it. The Left sees its enemies as primitives, in a savage and untamed society, that must be conquered and all traces of it extinguished.

Sunday Morning Coffee 12/26/2021

Quote of the year:

I swear, public discourse these days is like watching people smash their own toes with hammers, over and over and over again, while complaining how much their feet hurt.

Severian, at Founding Questions.

Go read the post on special forces politics…and then read the comments. And check out the comments here as well.

Nikolai Vladivostok reminds us that politics is about the possible, and not untenable proposals.

Mr. Briggs, Statistician and Poet-Who-Didn’t-Know-It to the Stars, with a rhyme about a visit by Old Saint Fauci.

Locklin on Science looks at biological anomalies, or just plain weird things.

The Orthosphere notes a surprising open letter to Americans by Archbishop Vigano, on the Great Reset. (A surprise only that the Vatican has not shut this man down already.) The Archbishop’s original letter is here. Also, reprinted here in full at Whatever.com.

At A Political Refuge from the Global Village, some quotes on age, and some more timely quotations here.

Ecosophia has an open post for December. In the post is a link to his forum on FAUXVID, which has some pretty good ground rules and as a result, seems to be avoiding most of the panic and normie rhetoric.

Eternal Anglo Seax discusses weaponized agnosticism, meant to limit thinking, and therefore, transcendence.

Z Man looks at ‘Build Back Better’, and what it teaches us about the aspirations of the Left.

Whatever.com’s midweek post on goings on in Canuckistan and elsewhere.

The Orthosphere also looks at the religious instinct, a kind of review of Dr. Edward Dutton’s book on witches, and Platonic philosophy.

Audio

The Myth of the 20th Century crew, along with special guest Borzoi, have a great podcast on Gustave Le Bon’s The Crowd. I think it might be their best, and it ends on an optimistic note.

Quintus Curtius on how to be sure she really IS NOT the right one.

I’m not a Joe Rogan fan, but I think it’s worth listening to this long podcast with Dr. Peter A. McCullough. He discusses FAUXVID crisis failures in the United States.

Theophilus Chilton, over at Neo-Ciceronian Times, provides narrative forms of two previous written posts: Reparations and Intraelite Competition, and Lying to People About History Does Not Help Them.

On Writing

By way of Isegoria, an article looking at the characters of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, and how its protagonists were basically nerdy sci-fi readers.

Eternal Anglo Seax reviews the quirky Atlantis, Edda and Bible, by Hermann Wieland.

A rant on…you damn kids and yer’ good fer nuthins, at Terror House. Also, a lovely bit of science fiction: Irc.

To close: Is it humour?

Christmas Morning Coffee

Mogadishu Matt shares his Christmas stories. I sympathize, given that up here it seems many spend most of their time shopping and travelling to visit family during Christmas. Also, on Miserable Christmases and Great Men.

Gerry Bowler has done a series of daily posts on Christmas going back a ways. Did you know Icelanders have the Yule Lads, who arrive over a period and cause all kinds of mischief? Here is some history of Saint Nicholas and his evolution into Santa Claus. Saint Lucy is also has many traditions attributed to her. Finally, he offers up an atheist perspective and critique of Christmas.

Swedish power metal band Sabaton, with a short dramatic music video on the Christmas Truce of 1914.

Over at Terror House, a disturbing story of Santa obsession, in three parts: The Perfect Santa. Part I is here, along with Part II and Part III.

Dark Brightness with a Christmas poem by Milton.

At Throne, Altar, Liberty, Gerry T. Neil has extensive essays defending the Christian celebration of Christmas, with the first here, and the second here.

By way of Isegoria, the miser is the most generous. But if you do give gifts, stop worrying.

Od’s Blog was providing links to music during Advent. Here are some of my favourites: Seven Joys of Mary, a jazzy White Christmas, and Angels We Have Heard on High.

To everyone, and especially you who visit this blog, and those whose content has inspired me, Merry Christmas!

UPDATE: Something for everyone.

Sunday Morning Coffee 12/19/2021

Tórshavn, Føroyar.

What a busy week.

Jim notes the expected date on which the pretence of democracy ends.

Severin is on fire at Founding Questions this week: An explanation of so much in Clownworld, process compliance is our fastest growing and only industry; also, on how wokeness requires learned helplessness:

The only way to feel you have agency in Clown World, where everything is fake and gay — but never the same way twice — is to embrace today’s fakeness and gayness with all your heart and soul…

…and then to embrace tomorrow’s fakeness and gayness with equal verve, even if — make that especially if — tomorrow’s directly contradicts today’s.

Shylock Holmes discusses the biggest impediment to Texas independence.

A happy coincidence on relations between the sexes: Eternal Anglo Seax discusses chivalry’s roots, and Richard Cocks at the Orthosphere looks at patriarchy and r/K selection.

William Briggs, Statistician to the Stars, with his latest FAUXVID crisis update. It’s pretty bleak.

A transcript of Curtis Yarvin’s recent bullhorn speech on modern Fascism and Monarchy.

Courtesy of Dark Brightness, a run down of politics in New Zealand, and the political legacy of Jacinda Ardern. James Allen, from Australia’s Spectator, discusses the decline and fall of New Zealand. The wave of woke and progressive policies, and politically motivated FAUXVID tactics in New Zealand mirror those taken by Trudeau here in Canada too well. It’s not just in the FAUXVID crisis, but since he was elected in 2015. The actors are all playing from the same guidebook.

Because Severin asked so nicely, please meme the following:

A blast from the past: APRFTGV’s diary of his visit to Ethiopia. From this week, his concerns about FAUXVID, including how lockdowns seem to have benefited the virus.

Gerry T. Neal discusses Canada’s anti-conversion therapy law, a prime example of what Curtis Yarvin called ‘governance theater’. Such laws often take a cruel turn in Canada, though. Someone eventually gets charged, and then the prosecutor will go to trial, just to see to what extent the new law is enforceable. The accused spends thousands on legal fees, just so the State can test its new virtue-signalling law. (If serious harm came out of conversion therapy, the existing laws on assault, forcible confinement, and criminal negligence causing bodily harm or death, perhaps even counseling suicide, would cover the field. Redundant laws like this only serve to show wokeness.)

Gerry Bowler discusses Christmas in Vichy France, under Phillipe Pétain. Here is his basin:

By way of Isegoria, a look at the popularity of deregulation. Always interesting stuff at Isegoria.

Nikolai Vladivostok relates the circumstances of Hitler’s rise to power and our modern times in his review of Mein Kampf.

John Michael Greer looks at a short history of western philosophy, especially how it relates to what one can know, and how the insistence that our elites “just know” (with concrete certainty) has caused much of our current troubles.

Mogadishu Matt on a paradox of modern investing and preserving value.

Via Patriactionary, one voice in the Canadian MSM sighs “enough”.

Fiction

Over at Terror House, a very, very dark look at a potential use for crypto-currency: Randocoins.

A clever poem from JMSmith at the Orthosphere: The Rhyme of the Ancient Atheist.

One Sentence Movie Review – Hamlet (1996, Kenneth Branagh)

Near perfect performance and translation from script to stage to screen, with just a tad too much Billy Crystal.

Audio

The Kunstlercast, hosted by James Howard Kunstler, on the origins of the of the FAUXVID melodrama, and the failure of the Omicron variant to generate the necessary fearporn to keep us all boiling over in panic.

BAP releases episode 96, featuring special guest Stone Age Herbalist, discussing many things archaeological and anthropological.

Charles Haywood, at The Worthy House, reviews Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty.

John Derbyshire does a fine job with this week’s podcast, on the decline of peace and order in the USA.

The Z Man’s last podcast of the year is on Xirl Science, where he autoethnographically interrogates and deconstructs the intersectionalism and anti-societal-constructivism of gender and race studies post-colonial prognosticators.

Aggregators

Nikolai Vladivostok does his weekly Word from the Dark Side.

Niccolo Soldo does his Saturday Commentary and Review #65. Excellent as usual.

Whatever.com’s mid-week update on goings on in Canada. This week’s underlying theme: All that matters is the appearance of “doing something!“, $10 billion at a time. There is a great story about a nativity and a German Sheppard pup at the end.

To finish, no snark this week. From the Faroe Islands:

Skál!

Courtesy of Dark Brightness: Suzanne Vega, The Queen & The Soldier.

And finally, this popped into my head when reading Mr. Brigg’s latest FAUXVID crisis update:

Sunday Morning Coffee 12/12/2021

Several bloggers have posted about the panic that defines our times, and the political kabuki theater around it.

A Politcal Refugee From the Global Village notes it in Omicron and Other Threats.

Z Man discusses it as political cosplay. (LARPing that could get the West in a hot war with Russia.)

Nikolai Vladivostok considers the value of ‘retail politics’, and finds it has no value. Also, check out his readers’ FAUXVID stories.

Curtis Yarvin calls it governance theater.

Eternal Anglo Seax asks, among many things: what is the point of the memes? Also, his thoughts on the rise of still births and falling reproduction, and how it is not an accident.

Banned Hipster asks how much control Pfizer has over its main marketing firm: the Democratic Party. It’s this big:

At Od’s Blog, Mr. Roney takes us on a tour of his daughter’s proposed Canadian history book, in particular, its ‘woke’ treatment of New France.

JMSmith, over at the Orthosphere, on why bureaucrats behave the way they do: Caught in the Cogs.

Courtesy of Patriactionary:

Gerry Bowler looks at Christmas time divination.

Mogadishu Matt considers his life and Dimebag Darrell’s influence.

Severin, at Founding Questions, considers Thomas Hobbes, asks what is power, and what makes for legitimacy?

A guest poster over at chez Briggs discusses his time on Trident submarines, what his COs and his life have taught him about leadership.

Fiction

There is an ongoing series of what look like radio drama scripts at Terror House. The story involves Jews who worked at Gross-Breesen, an agricultural camp meant to give them skills for them to leave Germany and live elsewhere. Here are Part I, Part II, and Part III.

At the Sperg Box, Alex-Jonestown, where modernity goes to die.

One Sentence Movie Review – The Power of the Dog

Jane Campion, LARPing as Cormac McCarthy and failing, trots out the now old-trope that all male relationships are gay, and the best way for a boy to become a man is to act like a woman.

Audio

The latest BAPCast, on Aristippus the Hedonist, a student of Socrates, but not a follower.

Tom Luongo at the Gold, Guns n’ Goats podcast discusses urea shortages, and the Davos Crowd, Russia and China.

The Myth of the 20th Century crew podcast about Soviet cybernetics and the failures of communist economies.

Charles Haywood reviews the memoirs of author Booth Tarkington: America Moved.

Dark Brightness posts on Bach’s Gloria In Excelsis Deo, a cantata from almost 500 years ago.

John Derbyshire does his weekly podcast, with an interesting argument about why French actor Jussie Smollett should not have been prosecuted.

Aggregators

Isegoria collects his Pearl Harbour themed posts, on the anniversary of the attack. Some interesting stuff there.

Whatever.com’s mid-week post, on all the goings on in Canuckistan.

A Word from the Dark Side, from SovietMen.

To close: Madonna actually looks good, but had zero chance. Trigger warning: lyrics include “when a girl loves a boy and a boy loves a girl”, perpetuating harmful heteronormative social constructs.

Review – Origins of the Late War, Annotated, by George Lunt

Amazon.com: Origins of the Late War, Annotated. eBook : Lunt, George,  Roper, Lucy Booker: Kindle Store

The North: “Please stop slavery, like it says in the Declaration of Independence.”

The South: “Them’s fightin’ words!”

Thus begins and ends the voluminous exposition of modern progressives, completely encapsulating their understanding of the causes of the 1861 to 1865 Civil War of the United States of America, or for our purposes here, the ‘War Between the States’. Never does it occur to them that their summary is a post hoc justification for the subjugation of the Confederate States by the northern Union states. When the USA was created, its constituent states made an agreement to enter into a federation. As time went on, some member states wanted to alter that deal. The other said “that’s was not what we agreed to”. When they sought to add new parties the federation, it was not clear which of these sets of terms would apply. Such a quandary is part of the context of the events leading to the War Between the States.

Mencius Moldbug once said, and continues to say, that for history, one should always go back to primary sources closest to the time of the events in question. I have taken this advice and I agree. With respect to the War Between the States, I have only read a few books, such as the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, and Raphael Semmes, along with the less contemporaneous Lincoln the Man by Edgar Lee Masters. (Jefferson Davis’s The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government is on my reading list.) Even brief looks at any one of these and you immediately know the modern narrative cannot be true.

I quest to prove that modern narratives are mostly just propaganda, and I desire to learn what actually led up to the War Between the States. I took another Moldbug recommendation and obtained George Lunt’s Origins of the Late War, Annotated.

“In thus presenting a sketch of the progress of those causes that led to the Southern revolt, it will be seen that slavery, though made an occasion, was not, in reality the cause of the war. Antislavery was of no serious consequence, and had no positive influence, until politicians, at a late period, seized upon it as an instrument of agitation; and they could not have done so to any mischievious effect, except for an alleged diversity of interests between the sections, involving the question of political power.” – The Objects of the Work.

George Lunt was a northerner. He was a Harvard man and a lawyer, but also active in politics and was editor of a Boston newspaper for several years. He is as “DamnYankee” as you can get. And yet, he spoke out many times against policies that would estrange the south.

To Lunt, one primary cause of the war was not emancipation of the slaves of the south. Rather it was that, from the time of the American Revolution onward, the issue of slavery as a question of states law, and law of property, was never resolved across the nation as a whole. For example, as new territories and states were admitted to the USA, federal and states politicians argued a great deal about whether the new jurisdiction should allow for slavery or not, and whether it would be admitted to the union if it did allow for slavery. Also, what to do if a slave, which was private property of its master, crossed state lines into non-slave states? Was the slave a ‘person’, or ‘property’? Should local authorities in non-slave states enforce laws about the return of such ‘property’ to their masters? These issues were live, and vigorously debated.

From this perspective, he goes into great detail about the causes that drove the northern Union to enter into war. He barely speaks about what was going in the southern states’ assemblies. Mentions of southern perspectives are those of elected officials at the federal level. Barely a mention is made of other grievances that the south had, such as the various Tariffs for which South Carolina almost seceded. Also, Lunt goes into incredible detail about the political wranglings that went on at state and federal levels, in respect of the slavery issue, from Independence until the end of the war. This might be too deep for someone unfamiliar with the relevant events prior to the war. And may also glaze your eyes over worse than those sour cream donuts you get at Tim’s. I digress.

Lunt has therefore drawn a fundamental distinction, although only exploring one side of it. To Lunt, people on both sides were alternately pushed and pulled into the war. Most people on both sides did not want war, nor separation. They certainly did not see the issue of slavery as something for which the country should be torn apart, and hundreds of thousands of lives extinguished. Emancipation was barely on their minds. Some in the north even went so far as to say that if the conflicts could not be resolved, then the two sides should part ways in peace. A minority of radicals, on both sides, wanted war, and actively encouraged it. It should come as no surprise that, in the north, these radicals were often associated with the abolitionist movement.

To summarize: Lunt’s work is about the causes of the War Between the States from the perspective of the northern states. Slavery, to him, was a very important cause of the war, but not for the reason we think today. Emancipation barely rates a mention. There was ongoing political friction about slave versus non-slave states and territories (friction, Lunt thought, that could be resolved bloodlessly). “Radicals” were eager to pounce on a long standing issue of great friction in the otherwise United States. It was leverage they could use to disrupt the entirety of the union of the states, and it was a fault of the north they got so far. This alone, to Lunt, is a sufficient cause of the war.

“Upon these grounds, therefore, it was, and from such motives, that the country, against the decided and general wishes of the people, was finally betrayed into a war for the Union, by conspirators against the Union.” – Chapter XXI.

Learning this, the current fracturing in my southern neighbours’ country is not unexpected. They too are in the grips of a fanatical and bloodthirsty minority for which their leaders will not stand up to (and also seek to profit by). I hope as Lunt did that they find their way out of it. But I fear I’ll be as disappointed as he.

Review – The Devil’s Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce

Bierce around 1866

W (double U) has, of all the letters in our alphabet, the only cumbrous name, the names of the others being monosyllabic. This advantage of the Roman alphabet over the Grecian is the more valued after audibly spelling out some simple Greek word, like epixoriambikos. Still, it is now thought by the learned that other agencies than the difference of the two alphabets may have been concerned in the decline of “the glory that was Greece” and the rise of “the grandeur that was Rome.” There can be no doubt, however, that by simplifying the name of W (calling it “wow,” for example) our civilization could be, if not promoted, at least better endured.”

Thus begins the ‘W’ section of Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary. It is an irreverent and mocking look at English language usage in late 19th Century America. Laid out like a formal dictionary, Bierce takes words of common usage, putting his own twist on the definition in order to reveal more about the times and circumstances he lived in, and the unchanging nature of humanity. Bierce reveals himself either to be a cynic, or an excellent judge and postulator of human folly (although, these things might be the same, in the end).

Tzetze (or Tsetse) Fly, n. An African insect (Glossina morsitans) whose bite is commonly regarded as nature’s most efficacious remedy for insomnia, though some patients prefer that of the American novelist (Mendax interminabilis).

Bierce was born in 1842, and saw the War Between the States first hand, serving in the Union Army from the outset until discharged in January 1865. He visited San Francisco, England, and the Dakotas, eventually settling on a career in journalism. In 1913, he left for Mexico, claiming he wanted to see their revolution first hand. He was never seen again.

Cabbage, n.  A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man’s head.”

Perhaps his best known work is the short story An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge. If I recall correctly, it was in many high school and university/college syllabi when I went through that system 30 years ago. It’s also worth a read. The Devil’s Dictionary was actually serialized in newspapers, starting in the 1880s, and finishing by 1906. Throughout, entries are accompanied by poems and verse attributed to pseudonymous authors, which brighten and add humour to the work.

Harangue, n.  A speech by an opponent, who is known as an harangue-outang.”

All told, I highly recommend it. It is funny, taking sometimes serious words and making good light of them. Bierce is witty, erudite, and concise. The entries are short enough you can have a rewarding read even if you only have a few minutes. Plus, I believe it is out of copyright, and there are free copies everywhere. And, often, it has brilliant summations of obvious legal truths…

Litigation, n.  A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.”

Off the Cuff – Omicron will not save us.

Recently, I was hanging with Pimpin’ Severin’s crew at Founding Questions. We were talking about Fake News, and in the comments, we talked about the AIDS epidemic, which was supposed to be the plague of the century, back in the 1990s. It turned out to be big fat nothing. (Niccolo Soldo has written extensively about this.)

I read a lot of people being cautiously optimistic about the new Omicron FAUXVID variant. They are hopeful it displaces the other variants, and only causes mild cold symptoms. Some go so far as to say it would effectively vaccinate people against further FAUXVID variants.

I would really like this to be the case. But, history tells me this variant is not the cure for the disease that plagues us. First, there is no way the TPTB and BigPharma is going to let this be the closing narrative. They desperately need to be able to take credit for saving us from the disease. They’ll never admit that we should have let the virus evolve, and it would resolve itself. They’ve spent way too much money and political capital to just walk away now: they are pot committed! Plus, they have been using near tyrannical power for two years now with little consequences for themselves. Trust me, these reprobates have a taste for it, and will not want to give it up. The power and the glory, plus the $$$$, do not allow an Omicron exit.

But people are desperate to get back to normal, and are pining their hopes on Omicron. This confuses me. What are they talking about? What we are going through is normal. It’s just normal cranked up to ‘eleventy’.

All my life, since the late sixties, we have constantly been bombarded with things we should fear. Nuclear war, nuclear winter, acid rain, the ozone hole, then global warming. As for diseases, here is a list of all the diseases I can remember were touted as the next potential epidemic, and you had better fear them:

Swine flu
HIV
Hanta virus
Bird flu
Mad cow disease
Scrapie
Prions (generally)
Ebola
Zika virus
SARS
MERS
Anthrax
HPV

Put very short, we have always been kept at a low simmer of panic by the next disease ready to kill us. These diseases have always been touted as invisible killers. I seem to remember something like the following in the mid 2000s: “Got a magpie acting funny in your backyard? Better run inside and call pest control, or else you could get bird flu!” Never mind that the black-billed magpie is the circus clown of the Corvids, so is always doing weird acrobatic shit.

Five Fun Facts About… The Black-Billed Magpie | Estes Valley Spotlight |  estesparknews.com
OMFG! Mad-elk bird flu!
Credit: Dawn Y. Wilson / Estes Park News

And I’m not saying some of these are not serious diseases. Many of them have killed a lot of people. But none of them ever materialized into the cataclysmic plague they were sold as. FAUXVID being sold as the next big plague is normal. Therefore, the question of when we get back to normal is redundant. The FAUXVID crisis is normal. It’s just turned up way beyond the level they had established with all these other diseases, when they were all the rage.

(Has it always been like this, though? I just note the diseases I have seen in my life. Maybe humans have always worried just a bit about the next plague.)

The real important question to ask is why the slow simmer boiled over this time. The answer is the same as the answer to “cui bono?” Who is benefiting from this crisis? The USA and other Anglo nations have lost their collective minds. I’m not sure if China gets a net-benefit from that. I think Russia sees this as an opportunity, perhaps not a welcome one though. (When that other guy with nukes is staggering around like its been on a three-day bender, you cannot feel comfortable.) BigPharma is raking in the cash with complete impunity. It looks like high finance is making off big time while money-printer goes ‘brrr’ (for now).

And let’s face it. If you are objectively looking at western societies, you eventually figure out that their populations are being kept at a low-simmer panic by their own leaders and institutions. Observing this for many years, you’d eventually figure out a way to one day push them into boiling-over when it benefits you. And those western nations really have no options but to try to keep the lid on, by oppressing their own people, and spending money they do not have. Those fake videos from China sure played a part in this.

So, sorry for being so blackpilled, but Omicron is not the answer. If anything, TPTB will spin Omicron as the next end of days plague. They do not have a choice.

Sunday Morning Coffee 12/5/2021

Titus Quinctus Curtius at Neo-Ciceronian Times advises: Be Unpoliceable. He discusses the Rittenhouse and Arbery verdicts, and the inherent lessons we need to accept: we will need militias to maintain order in our communities, and TPTB fear it greatly.

Severian has a post on the role of decadence in regime failure.

Gerry Bowler looks at Santa Claus and the Civil War.

A very interesting read, in two parts (for now): a dialogue between D.C. Miller and Zero HP Lovecraft, on whether they are enemies, and about politics and philosophy. Plus, this weeks continuation, on whether the Right/Left distinction is real.

Mr. Greer discusses regime change originating on the fringes, in the conspiracy theories.

Over at the Orthosphere, what real strategic voting could look like. Richard Cocks does an excellent review of Edward Dutton’s The Genius Famine.

Banned Hipster asks the question of the week: So Are We Just Ignoring the Ghislaine Maxwell Trial?

Mogadishu Matt with a needs-no-introduction post: “F*ck the Lutherans” And Other Poorly Worded Reasons to Develop Resiliency. Plus, his perspective on the labour shortages.

Patriactionary observes that the DoublePlusGoodSpeak has hit ludicrous speed!

Z Man asks and answers: when will the panic end?

What the fucking fuck? She must be trolling.

In what is usually lighter fare, John Derbyshire does his monthly collection of observations and mathematics.

Steve Roney at Od’s Blog provides some clarification on racism and tribalism. Followed up with a little piece of history of the Irish in North America, in light of the recent “woke” revisionist history at the Tenament Museum in New York.

Nikolai Vladivostok, at SovietMen, has an awesome post on an attempted discrediting that created a ‘great poet’ in Australia.

By way of Isegoria, a testimonial on the selective understanding of science in the FAUXVID crisis.

Fiction

It goes so far over the top I cannot summarize this short story from Terror House: Ho Busters.

The Eternal Anglo Seax on the road we travel, that seems to have no end, at the Sperg Box.

Check out Mr. Vladivostok’s new book of excellent short stories. (I did a review here.)

Audio

Charles Haywood reviews Human, Forever, by James Poulos, over at The Worthy House.

His Bronze Aged Majesty hosts the gentlemen from the Russians With Attitude podcast, to discuss Russian history and its impostors. (The RWA guys are pretty funny.)

Some lovely Advent music from Od’s Blog.

Aggregators

Niccolo Soldo has his Saturday Commentary and Review #63 at Fisted By Foucault. Bonus! Saturday Commentary and Review #64.

A Mid-week round-up of goings on in Canuckistan at Whatever.

Australian Nikolai Vladivostok’s weekly Word from the Dark Side.

To close: The Swiss having fun, but trigger warning, for failing to make a land acknowledgment for the Gauls who did not cede those lands.