The Thinking 

Sex at the Opera

January 16, 2010


At a dialogue with the Metropolitan Opera’s general manager Peter Gelb that was partly broadcast on public radio today, directors of controversial new productions spoke of the small-mindedness of audiences that have the audacity to boo.  Bartlett Sher, director of the new Les Contes d’Hoffmann, called booing “a self-interested expression of ownership.” Gee, that’s weird. I thought booing was a self-interested expression of contempt. Read More »


The Mind of the Craftsman

January 16, 2010


Craftsmanship is more than skill. It is a disposition, a state of mind, and a stance toward the world. The crafted object is idea and spirit made manifest. Robinson Crusoe was the craftsman par excellence. No one has more vividly described the inner world of the craftsman than Daniel DeFoe in his classic tale of the shipwrecked man on his island. Crusoe cured his solitude. He cured it with manual effort and small acts of creation. The most radically isolated of men, he lived in peace. 

Here is DeFoe on Crusoe’s work to make an umbrella:

“After this I spent a great deal of Time and Pains to make me an Umbrella. I was indeed in great want of one; I had seen them made in the Brasils, where they are very useful in the great Heats which are there. And I felt the Heats every jot as great here, and greater too, being nearer the Equinox; besides, as I was oblig’d to be much abroad, it was a most useful thing to me, as well for the Rain as for the Heats. I took a world of Pains at it and was a great while before I could make anything likely to hold; nay, after I thought I had hit the Way, I spoil’d two or three before I made one to my Mind; but at last I made one that answered indifferently well: The main difficulty I found was to make it to let down. Read More »


Why Gnosticism Works as a Term for Liberalism

January 16, 2010

James Fenimore Cooper

Upstate Conservative

In an excellent essay at Upstate Conservative, Thomas F. Bertonneau explains why ‘gnostic’ is an appropriate label for today’s liberal. As defined by Eric Voegelin, gnosticism stands for religious, and profoundly anti-spiritual, political radicalism. No other word encompasses this toxic combination of religious fervor and existential disappointment. Bertonneau writes:

The term “liberal,” like the term “change,” lends itself rather more to mendacious abuse than to just employment, especially when adopted as a label by the Left, which likes to hide its havoc-making program of transforming the un-transformable beneath the “L-word’s” ointment-like blandness. That the term “liberal” had long since devolved into something meaningless or misleading struck Voegelin already in the 1960s as a hindrance to transparent discourse.

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Kristor on Awe

January 16, 2010


Kristor writes at VFR:

It seems to me that when Darwinians express awe or reverence for nature, they are not so much dishonest as inconsistent. Honestly and straightforwardly carried through to their logical conclusions, their principles make a mockery of such feelings. Yet they cannot help having these feelings that they do have. They have these feelings because it is bliss to be alive, bliss to exist; it is bliss to know, and so to know is to love, to adore, and willy nilly to worship. Read More »


Watching Little Mermaid

January 16, 2010


The blogger Justin at Truth Shall Set You Free  argues that Walt Disney’s The Little Mermaid is a perfect introduction to female psychology for young boys. He writes:

… The Little Mermaid contains everything you need to know to understand women. It is exactly the movie you would want to show your sons, and make sure they fully understand its lessons. Which may seem odd at first, because it is usually identified as a girl movie, being, in fact, one of Disney’s big five Princess Movies.

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Theological Musings

January 16, 2010


Reader Larry B. asks this question:

Who suffers more: a perfect being in an imperfect world, an imperfect being in a perfect world, or an imperfect being in an imperfect world? 


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The Idea in a Craftsman’s Mind

January 16, 2010


N.W. writes:

I’ve often wondered how one can take joy in a thing which the one who made it took no joy in making. For instance, which of these two toys would a child prefer to be given: 


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