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@D Benton Smith “Americans are basically a bunch of friendly, open, uninformed and well intentioned blue collar hicks and farmers, and content to be so.” Absolutely spot on imho
@Dr. D You’re correct about people benefiting from Christianity and then turning their backs on it. A solid society is based on a solid foundation. In our case, that foundation is Plato, who said we live in dualistic world, one of both the abstract and concrete, the mind and body, stability and change. To maintain a stable foundation requires occasional maintenance, much like a house. Church fathers (the best of whom like Augustine were Platonists) crafted a complex myth system designed to preserve the lessons of Plato. Unfortunately, or inevitably, Plato was abandoned in the middle ages starting with Augustine and the nominalists, leading to the Protestant break — and ultimately our modern world. I love my life but I find the modern world repellent, offering false promises and empty lives. The early church fathers of course were not literalists; they viewed Christianity as allegorical or figurative. I believe a return to Plato is necessary to preserve our culture.
@redshift Your thinking is shallow. “What leads to a healthy and stable society’ is discovered, not invented by men. Moral codes are discovered, not invented by men. Basic concepts of right and wrong energize and direct human activities; electricity is discovered, not invented. Now, moral absolutes can never be fully known by finited creatures, just like the concept of infinity itself can never be known; yet we all recognize that infinity exists as a concept. The same applies to morals. Together we must agree upon objective right and wrong; by even discussing morals we admit of their objective potential. These concepts are the bedrock of Western civilization since Plato on through the early Christian fathers (the best of whom were Platonists). Harris is suffers the Atheist’s logical fallacy: “I’m right in saying there’s no such thing as right.”
I do like this particular Picasso and some of his sun-drenched cheerful Mediterranean paintings. However what’s often passed off as great art (particularly Picasso’s portraiture) reminds me of Johnny Rotten’s famous quote, “Ha ha, ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”
Aha! Now it makes sense. I was a high school exchange student in Hamburg in ’85. Very impressed by the wealth of the place; my host family lived on Eppendorfer Landstrasse. Was lectured to repeatedly about the evilness of USA and the superiority of the Germans. Easy to be superior fueled by cheap Russian gas and coal!
@Willem “many in the US who have only 200-300 years…” You understand that none of our histories are that short as Americans. My father’s family is Roman Catholic so we obviously trace our traditions to the Classical era. My mother’s family is Lutheran so there was a deliberate break with tradition, but please don’t condescend to Americans as ahistorical. The country was founded on classical principles. Cultural traditions among especially rural people in the US reflect in some cases 1000s of years of hard-won knowledge and experience. You don’t need to live next to a medieval castle or ancient temple to have history.
@Dr. D Excellent posts today. “They don’t give the Americans any credit. …Our holding the line is also holding the world to some extent.” Totally agree. I live in Flyover Country, grew up here, know the people and culture, yes, a practical people. This was frustrating when I was younger; now I appreciate the culture as truly sensible and sustainable. Who cares what the world thinks of us? They’re probably wrong anyway. I disagree with only one of your points: the US IS the last bastion of Western values. During the Cold War an Italian journalist came to cover Kruschev in my home state of Iowa. The Italian said, “Look, it’s like original Americans preserved in amber.”
@kultsommer camera obscura is from the 15th century. That’s why I used the term. Again, I still have no idea what your point is.
@kultsommer Logical Fallacy: Strawman Argument. I did not say the painting was a photo. I said it was photorealistic, meaning its desired effect was to artfully capture the essence of the subject as realistically as possible in absolute physical terms. You are only correct in your final sentence: this is going nowhere.
@kultsommer incorrect; this painting represents the era’s closest approximation of photo realism in an era obviously demanding portraits of that level of accuracy. Of course the artist has made choices to emphasize certain spiritual and psychological “tells” and diminish others for a desired emotional effect; this is the artistry. Photorealism and artistry are not mutually contradictory. It’s disingenuous to compare with modern photorealism, which revels in pure technical verisimilitude with little or no artistry. When I say “photorealism,” I have in mind, say, Picasso or impressionists by way of comparison. Even a painterly baroque artist such as Rembrandt is much less photorealistic typically than this painting. I stand by my original statement.
@Susmarie108 The tripartite nature of human existence is of course as old as Plato and Aristotle (classical logos/pathos/ethos corresponding roughly to the head/heart/soul). Augustine rebranded this classical formula as the Holy Trinity, wherein Logos becomes flesh in the person of Jesus. You correctly mention the power of contrast in the painting; of course you can’t have dark without light and a neutral ground for perspective. Positive/negative/ground (as in electricity) is another permutation of the classical trinity. You are also correct that modern culture is clearly out of balance (away from ethos, I would argue).
@kultsommer sorry but respectfully disagree. I did not say I disliked the painting; on the contrary. However this painting is most definitely photorealistic within the bounds of the strong tracing lines characterizing throughout. In general I am amazed by pre-modern portraiture; yet it’s folly to think that the artists did not use every tool available to achieve verisimilitude, including mirrors and tracing. The charm of this painting lies in capturing and revealing the inner state of the sitter, which transcends paint.
Photorealistic painting looks suspiciously like it was painted using a camera obscura.
Orlov is not to be trusted. He lived in metro Boston and thinks he understands America. He doesn’t. He lived on a houseboat before decamping to St. Petersburg; thinks he understands Russia. He doesn’t–the definition of rootless and disconnected. Always willing to point out the shortcomings of the US. Less willing to explain how a rich country encompassing 12 time zones has an annual average salaries at a fraction of the West. There are reasons. This engineer thinks highly of his own intellect but fails to see how economic engineers ruined his country in the 20th century. Take him with a grain of salt.
@Mister Roboto Agreed. I think political spectra are actually circles, not lines. Extremes on both sides tend to resemble one another in tactics, if not in outright objectives. The left claims to abhor violence until they want to punch a Nazi. Free speech until they disagree, then shut ’em down. As for health care, my companies rates went up 20% this year. Insurance is a scam. I’d like to compare premiums with payouts. I bet my company could negotiate group rates, self-fund, and still come out ahead. A crime.
@Mister Roboto Madison has changed so much since I moved to Wisco in the 90s. Used to be so many interesting used book stores, funky restaurants, etc. Now it’s got a def. corporate techno Marxist vibe. As for attractive young people, it seems like the left was just waiting for an excuse to go full burqua. All that beauty hidden behind veils.
@Mister Roboto Correct! I’m at an East Side coffee shop, in for the morning from a county to the south. Downtown Racine and Kenosha are also masked up. Makes me sad. Rural, not so much if at all. Makes me happy.
@Dr D Your post is spot on regarding the Biophobes. I have come to this conclusion slowly then all at once in my fifties. Half suspected and knew it when I was a kid, the emperor had no clothes–or was it me that was missing something? Covid clarified it for me. The masks dropped when the masks went on. Now I’m sitting in a hip coffee shop in Milwaukee facing 20 something barristas all masked up. The new normal. Musn’t inhale those nasty germs.Their bearings and bodies bespeak a sort of comforting relaxed slacker vibe. The art on display is fun and multi cultural. But yet what a far cry from the fiber of individual that built this city. I can still enjoy but see it for what it is. Thanks again for your thoughtful and clarifying post.
@Veracious Poet No, that’s not the European tradition I’m talking about.
@willem No need to use quotes; it’s the European tradition. Agreed, it’s fading fast among the elite ruling classes. They want to control us like the CCP. It will never work here in heartland America. They tried and failed round 1. People here do not want live like Chinese. They want enough land and space to be left alone to spend time with their families, tinker out in the shop, barbecue with friends, watch sports and drink beer at home. Maybe reconnect with the community every Sunday at church. Kind, hard-working people. They know how to fix things, tough as nails, no b.s. Clear-eyed and straight shooting. That’s the America I know. Seems very English in a way, our ancestors came here to be left alone on their big island. Got a vampire squid, Matt Taibbi’s words, slowly and stealthily sucking them dry.
@tinfoilhatted canuck Agreed, it’s good to hear all sides and make up one’s own mind. There’s negative spiritual/psychological energy used to correct course, and there’s negative energy used simply to destroy. Orlov does not give two $hi+$ about America or the West. He claims to understand America, having grown up here to Soviet immigrant parents. However he does not get America or Americans–at least the heartland where I live, the harsh prairies my ancestors helped settle. He has no skin in the game here, a bad actor. PCR gets us, his Cassandra warnings carry weight. Be forewarned.
Dmitri Orlov doesn’t get it. Natural resources alone don’t make a country prosperous. Nor do smart engineers (Orlov being a smart engineer entirely too impressed by his own intellect). It’s respect for and maintenance of sound traditions. Orlov is essentially a Soviet — an atheist materialist, the kind that thought could engineer Russia’s vast material wealth into a prosperous future. That experiment failed, yet the fond delusion persists. Face it, young, intelligent people don’t want to live in Russia or Ukraine; they want to partake in the freedom afforded by the 2,500 year old European tradition. The bloated lifestyle in the West must needs be trimmed to a much more sustainable lifestyle. Yet Orlov is entirely too sanguine about Russia’s prospects moving forward vis a vis the West. His writings should be taken with a grain of salt.
@Ororborus on point. Great notes
Formerly T-Bear, I already gave an historic example of the growth of the money supply linked to the exploitation of natural resources: viz. the gold rush of the 19th century. This process continued unabated until after WWII, when EROEI coeffecients finally proved unsustainable and more traditional checks on the money supply were almost entirely abandoned for fiat currency.. I agree that I wouldn’t be able to heat my house without unbacked paper securities. I am not arguing this with you. My point is simply that infinite growth on an finite planet is unsustainable. Infinite growth of the money supply with increasingly more costly and rare resources is likewise unsustainable. You are missing my point as evident in your hostile tone.
@Formerly t-bear, gold and precious metals are wonderful natural checks on unsustainable human growth. The idea is that, as new territories are opened up and explored, new sources of precious metals are found. This idea underlies the gold rush mentality of the 19th century. Of course, the modern mind does not accept limits even on a finite planet. A much more stable (and smaller), more beautiful, natural order would be in place without unbacked paper money.
@V. Arnold Thanks for your kind comments.
@phoenixvoice Wikipedia is good a place as any for a list of basic logical fallacies. There’s also this: https://utminers.utep.edu/omwilliamson/ENGL1311/fallacies.htm
Recognizing logic fallacies is important defensive armor to give young people going out in the world. However I encourage students to avoid engaging with people who don’t recognize basic logic — it’s foolish to argue with fools. My own views have taken a decidedly Platonic turn. I believe the West went far off the rails in favoring Aristotle over Plato during the dark ages. Unfortunately this mistake has led to the imbalance we see today. I’m currently considering writing a book called “H.E.L.P. (How Ethos, Logos and Pathos Can Save Modern Education).” I’d be happy to share some links or ideas for further research if you email me at email@example.com.
Re: Ugo Bardi. The pandemic forced me to rethink my own teaching. Now I begin every class with Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and an introduction to basic logical fallacies. Everything else is fashion.
democritus, sounds like you’ve already made up your mind regarding vaccines despite the clear objective evidence to the contrary presented daily on this news aggregate source.