The Thinking 

January 18, 2013


Still Life with Peaches, James Peale (1824-1831) Courtesy Library Company of Philadelphia


Found in a Book

January 18, 2013


ONE OF THE interesting things about used books – that is, books bought secondhand — is that they often bear traces of their former owners. On the negative side, there are the underlinings and notes on the pages themselves, sometimes revealing personal obsessions or preoccupations in the passages marked with exclamation points or double lines. I find these distracting, a form of literary graffiti that is often a desecration of a book.

There are also book plates and dedications on the first pages or inside the cover, such as “To Cindy — Merry Christmas/ Love, Aunt Margaret, 1962.” These dedications are charming and seem to leave a book with traces of living affection.

Then there are bookmarks or other papers, such as store coupons, left in the books themselves. Recently a piece of paper flew out of a used book when I picked it up from a shelf. I absent-mindedly put the paper on my night table. I then came across it later and read it. Written in a trembling hand, it said:

A Possible Prayer

Please, Please Lord heal me, let me live for I have much I desire to do, but if I must die, let it be peaceful and let me go this path with great love.

The page was dated January 19, 1997. As I read it, I felt an uplifting connection with the person who had held the same book, whomever he was and wherever he is. Alive or dead.

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Beautiful Gowns, Ugly Movies

January 18, 2013


AT Camera Lucida, Kidist Paulos Asrat writes about the Golden Globe Awards:

None of the films sounded attractive, imaginative, interesting, beautiful, thought provoking, educational, or any of the normal reasons one goes to the movies. Instead, they sounded like horror movies with grotesque story lines, or with over-the-top sexually active characters, or just plain boring. Also, it costs about $15 to watch a movie these days, which is about 2/3 the price of a dinner in a restaurant, which [is] preferable to sitting in a dark room being terrorized by a sadistic film director.

So, I was surprised when all (98%) of the women came to the Golden Globes dressed in classic – and I mean those classic Golden Ages of American Cinema – gowns. I shouldn’t be surprised, though, since this has become the standard actress persona: make ugly films, but dress up in beautiful gowns in public appearances.

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January 18, 2013


Portrait of the Artist's Brother, Arthur Hacker


“Consensual” Parenting: The Latest in Child Abuse

January 18, 2013


JAMES P. writes:

The simpering lack of manliness described by Wheeler MacPherson in your recent entry is, in my opinion, the product of the leftist dogma that equality is good, and that hierarchy and authority are bad. When applied to the family, this means leftists do not believe that parents should exert authority over their children. Crazy as this may seem, I have seen it in action. Time after time, other parents weakly ask — even plead — for their children to do something, instead of exerting their proper, loving authority and telling them what to do.

The absurd leftist formula is captured in this article about “consensual living,” which advocates that parents and children should have an equal say in family decisions. Some excerpts with my comments:

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“My Dream College Won’t Accept Me”

January 18, 2013


A WOMAN named Elif Koch writes in The Atlantic of being denied admission to Deep Springs, a liberal arts college located on a cattle ranch and alfalfa farm in the desert of California. Miss Koch, who believes the world is interested in this utterly trivial infringement of her personal desires and is wholly oblivious to the recent feminization of colleges, argues that higher education is limited for women because it does not offer them the sort of experience available at Deep Springs, which emphasizes learning and rugged, dude labor. This is similar to a man stating that because he was not accepted onto the Notre Dame football team, higher education is closed to him.

The all-male outpost of Deep Springs has only remained all-male by court decree. Even the current board of trustees, no doubt worried to death of lawsuits by the likes of Miss Koch, wants it to go co-ed. Nevertheless, Miss Koch smells a conspiracy.

She writes:

The fact of the matter is that young women face a lack of diversity in their higher education. Young men do not pine over all-women schools like Bryn Mawr or Scripps because there are reasonably similar co-educational programs. However, there is not a school like Deep Springs that is available to young women. Read More »


St. Louis Institution Folds

January 18, 2013


 ALAN writes:

The second-oldest Catholic high school in St. Louis announced last week that it will close this year because of operating expenses and declining enrollment.  St. Elizabeth Academy for girls opened in 1882.  Today it has only 133 pupils.

There are still many decent people and beautiful old houses in the neighborhood around St. Elizabeth Academy. But that neighborhood is now poisoned (“enriched” in Orwellian Newspeak) by the presence of rappers, freelance thugs, arsonists, robbers, and militant agitators for queers.  None of them or anyone equivalent to them was there 50 years ago.

I suggest that they are the reasons for the declining enrollment that is causing St. Elizabeth Academy to go out of business.

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On Manly Honor

January 18, 2013


DANIEL S. writes:

Brett McKay of The Art of Manliness website has written several worthwhile columns exploring the history of the idea and importance of manly honor, a concept much lacking among the majorty of postmodern males in the West. He starts:

Across cultures and time, honor and manliness have been inextricably tied together. In many cases, they were synonymous. Honor lost was manhood lost. Because honor was such a central aspect of a man’s masculine identity, men would go to great lengths to win honor and prevent its loss.

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