Friday, September 06, 2002

The men in white are gone from across the street, but they have been at work at the top of the enormous black-shrouded shell of the Deutsche Bank across the site of the World Trade Center from my usual cafeteria table: two small fragments of rib and one perhaps of skull have been recovered, nearly a year after they were blown there.

For that year the media have drawn an implicit but sharp contrast between the valiant heros in uniform of September and the hapless civilian victims, who had the bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As far as I know this is not the attitude of any firefighter or police officer in New York, but of the militarists of the communications empires.

The accident in the mine a few weeks ago, and the miraculous rescue of the trapped miners, reminided me forcefully of the real heroism of ordinary people who just go to work every day, and Homer Hickham's Coalwood stories drove the lesson home. But this doesn't apply to the bond traders, administrative assistants, deliverymen, and janitors vaporized on September 11. Or does it?

Everyone who went into the towers on a windy day and felt them move from side to side knew in his gut that they were coming down some day whatever the engineers said, and after the first Islamicist attack we all had a pretty good idea how. Women working in the Trade Center faced more immediate danger. The product of the socialistic megalomania of the Lindsay years, the buildings were never fully rented, and many floors were virtually unpatrolled. I don't recall any murders, but it is generally understood that many rapes, any of which could have led to murder, were unreported or covered up. We all know people who refused to work there.

Men and women went up into the towers for the same reasons men go down into the mines, a few to prove their machismo, but most to make a life for their families, the same reason we have faced danger and death from time immemorial. It is no disrespect to the uniformed services to recognize that here too is heroism, no less real for being unspectacular and uncelebrated.


© 2002 F.P.Purcell. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 04, 2002

The Fourth of July: here are some thoughts a libertarian is handing out as a leaflet today

Happy 4th of July!

As we celebrate the Declaration of Independence, let us keep in mind what truths the founding fathers felt were self-evident. Our media doesn’t give us all of the information that a free press should. Below are just a few facts that you might not have been aware of.

· US citizens are being held in military prison, deprived of their constitutionally protected rights, such as the right to a lawyer, a trial, or even the writ of habeus corpus, which allows citizens to petition the federal government to right and unjust arrest.

· The FBI has gone down the path of COINTELPRO, a counter intelligence program that was used in the 50s, 60s, and 70s to hold down the civil rights movement (according to the FBI’s own files, “The purpose of this new counterintelligence endeavor is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” certain organizations). The new program allows federal agents to dig through library records of ordinary citizens, conduct surveillance of religious or political organizations without a warrant or even probable cause.

· The “War on Terrorism” has turned into an excuse to put down dissent. On May 30th, Jaoudat Abouazza was stopped on the pretext of a minor traffic violation, but when the police found leaflets of a legal, permitted protest, he was handcuffed and brought into the police station without being read his rights. From there he was turned in to the FBI and the INS, who have held him since, even from appearing at his own trial on the orders of the court. On June 16th, the prison guards pulled him from his cell, restrained him in his chair, and pulled 4 of his molars against his will and without anesthetic. Similar cases of the federal government putting down dissent can be seen with Ahmed Bensouda, an activist who just graduated from UIUC, and Faruk Abdel-Muhti, an activist in New York.

· The “War on Terrorism” has turned into a witch hunt, encouraging people to turn in people they don’t like. For instance, the Haitian bus driver in Boston who, after getting into a petty argument with another bus driver about a parking space, was turned in to the FBI the next day as a “suspicious character”.

· Strong evidence of US war crimes by US troops against Taliban prisoners has been ignored by the media and the government, amid calls for an investigation by Amnesty International

· The US media has been censored from publishing anything critical of the current administration. Not only are articles questioning US policy pulled from news sources, but US based news outlets are not sending reporters to cover the millions of people standing against the current administration’s policies in the US and abroad.

· Attorney General John Ashcroft is attempting to exempt the department of Homeland Security from the Freedom of Information Act and the Whistleblower’s Protection Act, citing national security claims, even though those acts specifically allow for national security exemptions. In effect, he is trying to create an unaccountable federal security force.

· The US has kept the G8 summit from addressing the AIDS epidemic in Africa so that we can rally support for our “War on Terrorism”

Thank you for coming out today to celebrate the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Stand up and speak out against these actions. Contact your representatives in congress and demand change, write your newspapers and insist on fair and complete coverage of the world’s events, and get involved!

“Those who give up liberty for the sake of security deserve neither” – Ben Franklin

Interesting. I hope some of these stories will upon investigation prove baseless. Even so, the main points would remain. On which please see, not National but Rational Review. --FP

Saturday, June 29, 2002

Cé hé John Doe 2?

My 9/11 web page carries a link to an article about the Oklahoma City bombing, Was Tim McVeigh an agent of Iraq? A friend in the Russian Catholic community who recalled this sent me a very interesting piece published in Belfast, in the Irish language, Cé hé John Doe 2?. For those of us who have the Irish, here it is. And for those of us who do not, I am hoping to see a translation soon over at the blog Between the Worlds.

John Berger is the blogger whose site has done most to spark interest in the Oklahoma City-WTC connection. Take a look at it.

In late September and October, working sporadic night shifts on a New Jersey mountaintop, I was able to follow the aftermath of the incident, and reflect on it. I was fascinated by the responses of some Traditionalist followers of Julius Evola in favor of bin Laden, and realized that his movement may be limited to Muslims, but it has warm sympathizers among Americans of what is mistakenly called the extreme right. That's probably why I picked up on McVeigh'a alleged Iraqi connection.

Like most Americans, I was deeply moved by the outpouring of sympathy from every nation on earth. Every nation but one. The response of the government of Israel struck me as brutal and bullying. I was somewhat prepared by Jewish friends who said things like, Well now you people know how it feels to be an Israeli, with almost a sneer of satisfaction.

There was something very wrong there, and I read with interest European reports that the Israeli agents expelled from the United States early this year had had the hijackers under close surveillance in the weeks up to September 11. Their government's response to the attack would make sense as the guilty reaction of those who had some prior knowledge of the plan, which they did not see fit to share with the Americans. If so they must have been as horrified as bin Laden was elated by the unbelievable success of it. Or so I would like to think.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

In a former life, never mind which, I was given to falling in love with books, even with dictionaries. In my present occupation one flirts more with file formats, even graphic ones. I first heard of the Century Dictionary while researching the life of Charles Sanders Peirce, who wrote the scientific, mathematical, and philosophical entries. When I finally got around to reading Barzun and Graff's Modern Researcher I learned that it was one of the great dictionaries of all time, edited by William Dwight Whitney, author of what was still the great first year Sanskrit text. Visiting a used bookstore in Nyack I found a copy, twleve enormous and lovely volumes bound in leather I still despair of reconditioning, for a not unreasonable price of (I think) forty dollars. It occupies the place of honor in the great red bookcase which dominates my livingroom, though the bookcase is, alas, hard to get to, and the binding leaves red stains on the reader's shirt. A new graphic file format and the kindness of strangers now allow me to share it with you, if you will be so kind as to download the browser plugin via the button on the lower left corner of The Century Dictionary Online.

Speaking of dictionaries, that greatest of all lexicographers, our good and dear friend the late Dr. Samuel Johnson now has a blog devoted to his wisdom as illustrated in the reflections of a contemporary Brooklynite. I refer you to The Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page. Yes, Ed, some good comes from Brooklyn.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Again, I leave the apartment to the strains of the War March of the Priests on WQXR, almost thirty seven years to the day since we played it for our graduation from River Dell Regional High School.

Life goes on.

I was going to continue the theme of New Jersey and anti-New Jersey, but got distracted by thoughts of perverted priests and corrupt bishops which I still haven't formulated for publication. And when I do, I may well post them elsewhere.

Meanwhile, I see there is a Thomas Love Peacock conference coming up, but not in New Jersey or even Indiana, so I shall have to content myself with being there in spirit.

Monday, June 17, 2002

The Pot and the Kettle

Or, A Brooklyn Look at New Jersey

From: EMacDonald
Subject: Blog
Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 10:51:05 -0400

Dear Frank;

I am very gratified to discover that my quasi-encomium upon the State of New Jersey and its folk has been found worthy to be posted on your blog.

Let me add this note. I have been a Tolkien fan since 1965. In all these years, I have never found the slightest evidence that New Jersey provided him the model for the Land of Mordor. New Jersey's resemblence to Mordor is, in general, but slight and is restricted to a relatively few localities such as Elizabeth. Green things do grow there, too; just ragweed and stunted trees perhaps, but, still, real vegetation. Doubtless Samwise, Treebeard or Galadriel, finding themselves in Jersey, would seek to make hasty exits, but that does not make it a bad place.


I shall merely comment here that the late Howard Lovecraft did not see fit to set any of his stories in the Garden State; on the other hand, The Horror at Red Hook speaks pretty much for iteslf.

Saturday, June 15, 2002

From our Mailbag

From Ed MacDonald

Thanks, Frank. This just goes to illustrate my argument that NJ is not, contrary to the opinion of all these snotty NYC'ers, just an industrial sink-hole to be loathed, despised and mocked by us sophisticates. While NJ bears very little resemblance indeed to the New Jerusalem, it does have its points. Not many points, assuredly, but some. Well, a few. Or, at least a couple.

Why here is evidence of it! Frogs! Lovely green slimy frogs. Who make noises of various kinds. Which the Jerseyites record for the edification and listening pleasure of mankind. The kindly Jerseyites don't have much, but what they do have, they share with the world. Frog noises. One is forcibly reminded of the Widow's Mite, is one not?

But not only do the humble and generous Jerseyites regale us with the vociferations of their frogs, they offer us a guide to the amphibians and reptiles of their state! How many nature-lovers will now be enabled to fulfill their dreams of sloshing about in the filthy and polluted swamps of New Jersey with a reliable guide to the misshapen creatures to be found there in their possession? I myself do not actually know any such worthy souls, but, being an occasional bird-watcher, I do know how many very odd people there are out there in nature-land, and have no doubt that some have such an ambition.

And let us not forget that among the, um, several interesting things about NJ is the fact that none other than the Rev. Jonathan Edwards spent the latter years of his life at what became Princeton, thereby illustrating what can happen to sinners in the hands of an angry God.



-----Original Message-----

Sun Jun 9, 6:33 PM ET

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Some unlikely tunes are leaping up the charts in New Jersey.

A new CD featuring frogs croaking is selling so fast that state wildlife officials are having trouble keeping it in stock.

"It's pretty amazing," Linda Tesauro, executive director of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "We never expected these to be as popular as they are."

Performers include the indigenous Pine Barrens Treefrog, the chirping Northern Spring Peeper, and the Carpenter Frog.

Frog fans also are buying the accompanying "Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of New Jersey."

Initial runs of 1,000 copies for each item sold out in 10 weeks - a record for the state Division of Fish and Wildlife's Endangered and Non-game Species Program. A second run of 2,000 is expected within days.

The frog sounds were recorded in the woods and streams of the Garden State. The CD is meant to teach listeners to identify the calls and chirps of the tiny amphibians.

The CD and book sell for $10 each or $18 for the set.


On the Net

His Grace responds:

The Toxic Avenger of course is from New Jersey
although I understand his love interest Phoebe
Leger lives in New York and goes to Grace Episcopal.


For shame, for shame! You of all people should know that Tromaville is in reality Ossining. Or is it Peekskill? Somewhere around Pleasantville, to be sure, where black helicopters airlift hosts consecrated by traditionalist Brazilian priests to the secret martial arts training camps of the Tradition, Family, Property sect. The only part of the world bearing even a remote resemblance to the New Jersey of our imaginings.

Monday, June 10, 2002

Some folks say that the most boring thing in the world is reading user manuals for computer software. To them I say, you have no idea what boredom is until you have had to write the stuff.

Had to get out a little while ago and walked down Broadway to Bowling Green Park, that little circle just past the big brass bull. A notice posted by the Gummint informs all and sundry, or at least those who stop to read it, that the park is a top location for watching the peregrine falcons which have come back from the brink of extinction to build their nests on Wall Street, the Brooklyn Bridge, places like that. Good to know.

Even better to learn, through Yahoo, that nostalgic Jerseymen can now purchase CD guides to the singing treefrogs of the Garden State. Nontree frogs, too, for all I know.

I just deleted an email from one with the subject line, It's me again. Maybe next time I'll open it.

The sun will have set in New York before the eclipse begins. An astrologer I met recently says that this is very bad news for Israel if the accepted birthchart is correct. The eclipse, I mean, not my missing it. I mentiion this just in case something spectacular happens tonight. I mean in Israel, not with Jenifer.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

I found myself on Washington Heights Saturday evening, and dined at a restaurant that would be worth the trip on the A Train, Bleu Evolution. Meanwhile, on the Upper West Side, I see that the number of blogs registered at Broadway and 72nd Street has grown to twelve, the newest being New York City Bartenders & Patrons.

The latest post, announcing the commencement of the pig roasting season in the meatpacking district, gives the flavor of it: "Nothing beats eating meat and drinking beer in the sunshine on Tenth Avenue, with scores of amazing Harleys parked all over the place. The crowd is good and the food isn't to be missed. The bar is hopping and crazy busy. Bring your appetite and you'll have a great time at Red Rock!"

On the main site, to which the blog is connected, the emphasis is on the bartenders, who are are preponderantly female, some of them quite preponderantly so. (Bartendresses? I like the sound of that.) I'm not going to link to it -- find it yourself! I'm a moral sort of guy, after all. Seriously, though, only one of the blogs at my stop is that of a porno professional (I'm not going there either), which speaks well of our fair city, at least on the nerdy side.

John Zmirak's new column is out, this one on Revolting France. Speaking of Bastille Day, as we were the entry before last or the one before that, it was of course John who organized that wonderful garden party in Alphabet City two years in memory of the martyrs of that unfortunate revolution. The proprietress of the garden almost refused to allow it to be used, as she is, alas, a Republican, that is to say, not a Monarchist.

Those of us in the Russian tradition should host a similar event some day, perhaps not in February or even October, but on the Sunday of All the Saints of Russia, which falls a week after All Saints, that is, two weeks after Pentacost, generally in June.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

I was back on Barclay for a meeting this morning and found my old cube dismantled and my new one not yet constructed. Good thing I got my stuff into boxes, which are now in the custody of the movers. My things here at Broad Street, opposite the Stock (not Stocking!) Exchange will have to be boxed at the end of next week.

At the North Fork Bank (formerly the Keshkerrigan Irish bookstore) I picked up a couple of local papers, with some details on the reconstruction effort. Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill has designed a rather nice tall prism in the form of a parallelogram to go up over part of the site of WTC 7, between Washington and Greenwich Streets, the latter being extended from Barclay to Vesey. A little park might go in the triangle left over.

And I see that the magnificent Hoboken ferry house is finally being renovated, to be completed for its centenary in 2007. My father took an early retirement when the ground started to be cleared for the World Trade Center at the end of the '60s. He particularly disliked having to ride the PATH, the Tubes, as he called them, rather than the ferries he had taken for so much of his life, at least since he graduated from eighth grade to work on the Hoboken docks.

After a late shift chalking freight in Hoboken for stronger men to lift, he and his cronies would cross for the 2 a.m. Mass which was held for the printers who worked for the newspapers around what is now Pace University. After communing with their God (and mine) they would gamble, whether with dice or with cards I am not certain -- perhaps with both. (He never told my mother that he bought her first present with the winnings of a poker game; she would have disapproved most strongly.)

In late middle age Western Electric transferred Dad from the great Kearny plant to AT&T headquarters at 195 Broadway. I remember singing carols in Christmas Eve in the grand lobby of this too little known architectural masterpiece, and it was one of the first places downtown I went after September 11, to see that, so close to Ground Zero, perhaps as close or closer than I myself had been, it was still all right.

I think that, as he commuted from a job he didn't really like to our suburban home, he took pleasure in embarking on the familiar boats to the grand terminal only two years younger than he, to take a train over the same railroad, I imagine, that his grandfather came over from Ireland to build, or rather, to carry water to the boys big enough to swing a pickax.

Monday, June 03, 2002

If you should happen to go to my remarks on Teachers College of a few weeks ago and click on the name of Lawrence Cremin, the link won't link; an excellent article critical of the man and his work has been removed from the WorldWide Web. The official tribute remains. The man's words speak for themselves to those who know how to read them, and the pictures are true to life -- Martin Dworkin took many of them, including some he isn't given credit for. Martin was a better critic than philosopher, better poet than critic, better photographer than poet. His one published book was a manual of weight training. With a physical therapist working on the range of motion of both shoulders, I could use that one now.

Friday, May 31, 2002

Incidentally, the date, the eve of Bastille Day, is perhaps not inappropriate, as Bernard Roy, the founding moderator of the event, was inspired by Marc Sautet's cabinet de philosophie, which met at the Café des Phares on the Place de la Bastille. For more on this, see Roy's Philosophical Value of Coffee-House Debates.

Cafe Philo does not exhaust the public philosophy scene in New York. Every Tuesday evening, starting at 6:45, Evan Sinclair hosts a Socrates Cafe at Sony Plaza, 550 Madison Avenue. His inspiration is Chris Phillips, a former student of Matthew Lipman, whose post-doctoral training in philosophy for children I was privileged to attend early in 1990. Phillips' Society for Philosophical Inquiry boasts Lipman on its Board of Advisors, along with Robert Coles and Jacob Needleman, whose Heart of Philosophy is a book I wish everyone I know would read.

And once a month Lou Marinoff, author of Plato, Not Prozac leads a spirited discussion at the Barnes and Nobles on Sixth Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets.
Interesting discussion of beauty last night at New York's Cafe Philo, meeting at the Bamiyan Restaurant on 26th and Third. As before the meal was pleasantly priced, though a single appetizer would have satisfied my immediate hunger, and I have sated my curiosity about garlic noodles in yogurt sauce, and will most likely not order it again.

These philosophy discussions are held over dinner on alternate Thursday evenings, and are open to the general public. The crowd they attract is somewhat middle aged, with about equal numbers of older and younger folks, and as interested in listening and responding to each other as in sounding off, a pleasant change from other gatherings of the sort. The next topic, for June 13: How do we decide?

Thursday, May 30, 2002

From the pictures I have seen, it was not a flag draped stretcher that was carried out this morning, but a flag draped girder. Maybe there were both.

Mike and Liz at NYC Bloggers have begun a registry of the blogs of Gotham grouped by the nearest subway station. So far, 13 in the Bronx, 45 in Queens, 157 in Manhattan, 130 in Brooklyn, and 5 on Staten Island have announced themselves there. There are 28 on the Upper West Side, 10 of them at my own stop, Broadway and 72nd Street.

I have started a Blog Between the Worlds for the patrons and friends of Sophia's Pub at the same location -- I mean between the worlds, not at 72nd and Broadway. I hope that the emerging blog culture will prove less geeky than the wikiwiki culture. Certainly it will have the advantage over my Yahoo groups, that you don't need an ID to read, only to post, and the whole ID business is much less onerous than at Yahoo, or... don't even get me off on the subject of Swiki. I hope many of the folks on the First Hour list will join us there as well, though I am inviting a certain number of people who would run the other way at the first signs of anything devout.

Right about now, a few blocks from here, a stretcher, empty except for an American flag, will be carried ceremonially from the World Trade Center site as a symbol of the thousands whose mortal flesh mingled with the elements on September 11 without leaving behind any identifiable remains. I feel no need to be there, having watched the North Tower collapse quickly into dust from a few blocks away.

By that time, I now understand, nearly everyone still alive had been evacuated; the greatest loss of life had occurred when the South Tower, the second hit, fell quite soon thereafter, as I stood on a bridge sixteen stories above the atrium of my own office tower, covering the windows with a brown pall of debris. But it was as I was walking homeward as rapidly as I could after descending innumerable stairs, turning back to see the spectacular collapse, that I was struck by the overwhelming weight of human lives extinguished.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Yesterday the last steel girder was taken away from the World Trade Center site; there will be a solemn commemoration service tomorrow. A week from Friday the Messaging Software Division of... never mind which Wall Street bank... will move back to Barclay Street. I have been back twice, to secure things from my old cubicle, box some for the move from the thirteenth floor to the twelfth, carry some here to Broad Street opposite the Stock Exchange, throw many papers away. The atrium has been cleaned up and the windows which gave such an impressive view of the Towers are covered by an American flag fifteen stories high.

When I was first moved out of the cube, but locked in the building with five thousand other technologists, I was lucky to have an email account outside the Bank. I found my way to a terminal and sent out the following:

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 06:31:41 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Frank Palmer Purcell"
Subject: I am all right

The North side of 101 Barclay has been evacuated. I am sending this from the printer room. It is not safe to leave the building yet.

I could see the fires raging in both towers, and a tiny body falling.

The claim that I was all right was somewhat premature, to say the least... but the details can be read on my 9/11 page.

Sunday, May 26, 2002

"Did Sherrard consider "Western Civilization" as heretical? I don't see how an abstraction can be accused of heresy."

How like a Westerner (never mind that I'm one myself) to assume that only the individual is really real, and that that which he participates in is mere abstraction! From a Traditional point of view, which I may not be able to represent very well because it is not fully my own, this assumption is not merely intellectual error or spiritual blindness, but enthrallment to a very particular Spirit of Lies, to whom the Papacy opened the Roman Church in the time of St. Photios, which eventualted in the demonic practice of autonomous sciences of nature, and the equally demonic pretention to individual human rights.

Such was the belief of a dear and good man, sadly deluded, his delusion shared less by Orthodoxy in general than by his fellow Traditionalists, many of whom were converts from European occultism to Islam.

Friday, May 24, 2002

Ed MacDonald writes, "I don't think referring to the RusCath church as a 'denomination' is quite right. Makes us sound like Free-Will Baptists."

It does sound a bit grand for an outfit with no bishops, maybe ten priests, and a couple of hundred communicants. I was thinking of denomination in the sense of variety, as in, "There are three denominations of Russian Orthodox in New York, the OCA, the ROCA Synod, and the Patriarchal." and ourselves as a would-be fourth, I suppose. It's all right for Roman canon lawyers to call us a Church sui juris, but that is precisely what we are not. Our mandate from the Holy Father was to preserve the customs and traditions of Orthodoxy intact, except for any incidental accretions that might be contrary to the Faith, such as, I suppose, the veneration of St. Peter the Aleut. But on the whole we steer a middle course between the innovations of New Skete and the ossifications of Jordanville.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Shortly after I announced the ArisBlog on the First Hour list, I saw that Gerard had placed a link to it on his Blog page, under Catholic blogs. I found this a little embarassing, since I haven't called myself a Catholic (without further qualification) since I left the Roman Catholic Church three years ago.

Before Attila the Nun comes at me with her mil. spec. razor sharp steel ruler, let me hasten to add that I was received into the Russian Catholic Church sui juris by order of the late John, Cardinal O'Connor, acting on authority granted to him by Pope John Paul II. Like most members of my tiny denomination I prefer to think of myself as an Orthodox Christian in communion with Rome, but I do not insist on this, largely out of respect for my true blue Ortho friends who claim that they just haint no sech animule, though the Melkite Greek Catholic Church is a marvelous counterexample.

If you ask why I did what I did the way I did it, I can only say that I want to live the integral life of an Orthodox Christian, but I cannot in good conscience repudiate the graces I experienced in the half century of my life as a Roman Catholic, which indeed brought me to where I am now. Further, I am a product of modern Western civilization. Much as I revere the memory of Philip Sherrard, with whom I studied, all too briefly, in 1969, I cannot agree that it is heretical root and branch, particularly in its unique ideal of science and human dignity.

I have an email from John Zmirak, announcing that his latest column, reflecting on the problem of priestly paedophilia, is out. If, for whatever reason, you cannot avoid thinking about this sad, sad, matter, take a look at it. And if you are still interested in the intellectual history of the conservative movement, it sheds some light on the current preoccupations of one of the leading lights of the 1960s, long since assimilated by the establishment.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Today I find myself brooding over something in my inbox from Lew Rockwell, a reflection by Paul Gottfried on the dubious and dangerous legacy of Leo Strauss, a figure highly respected in the conservative movement of my youth, but whose thought I as a student of philosophy could never seem to get a handle on.

I might say the same about my own Straussian professor, Martin S. Dworkin, who was never known as a conservative, though his open anti-Communism made him a persona non grata at Teachers College after his best friend Larry Cremin became president and his courses were given to Maxine Greene, the queen of political correctness who had chaired the selection committee. At Cremin's funeral the eulogist remarked that his deepest convictions were hidden from all who knew him. It would seem paradoxical to say the same of Martin, whose scornful opinions were expressed with brutal tactlessness, yet his unwillingness to engage in any real dialogue about ultimate questions argued a profound inability to expose the premises of his thought to the light of discussion.

My dialogue with Martin Dworkin continues in a poem I began soon after I heard of his death a decade or so ago, and may never finish, and in a review of The Closing of the American Mind, which I will almost certainly not finish, or at least publish.

Leo Strauss was (or claimed to be) a Platonist, but one who held that what we normally think of as Plato's philosophy is merely a Golden Lie to be told by the Guardians, or would-be Guardians, to keep civilization going, and the lower orders in their places. This is perhaps why the Allan Bloom's beloved Western Civilization is something that simply doesn't exist between the end of the Roman Empire (in the West) and the (so-called) Enlightenment.

Charles Sanders Peirce, the fountainhead of American philosophy, proved to my satisfaction, and to the satisfaction of minds more learned and acute than mine, that the nominalism which has dominated official philosophy in the West since the days of Occam is absolutely fatal to the practice of science, which is one of the glories of our civilization. Just before I was born Richard Weaver showed to my (eventual) satisfaction, that it is equally fatal to all grace, decency, and polity.

I owe a great deal to Weaver, and to his great book Ideas Have Consequences, which I read the summer after my first year at Earlham. Without his eloquent defense of Platonic and Scholastic realism, I might well have dismissed the pragmatic mainstream of American philosophy, which presupposes it, as casually as professional intellectuals, including self-described philosophers, habitually do.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Well, my Blog has disappeared. Let's see if it comes back if I publish a new entry here.

Monday, May 20, 2002

What oddities? I thought you would never ask! The latest, well, almost the lastest, was a swiki, that is to say, a wikiwiki written in squeak. Is that geeky enough for you? Don't even ask.

Friday, May 17, 2002

Inspired by Gerard Serafin, I have decided to add a Blog to my collection of internet oddities. Having done so, I find I have not much to say, but may in the future.