Category Archive 'Der Untergang des Abenlandes'

21 Feb 2020

Oxford Considers Removing Homer and Virgil

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You are a member of the Classics faculty at Oxford. It has been recognized that the influence of Modernism has significantly reduced serious study of Latin and Greek at secondary schools in Britain and the performance gap between well-prepared students from a small number of elite schools and the generality of students, particularly between male and female students has grown conspicuous.

How do you suggest this national educational decline should be addressed?

The Oxford Student:

[There is on the table] a proposal by the Classics faculty to remove the study of Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid from the Mods syllabus, a decision which has surprised many across the faculty.

This proposal forms part of a series of reforms aimed to modernise the first stage of the Classics degree, known as Moderations (Mods), which take place during Hilary term of second year for all students taking Classics courses across the university.

The Mods course, which is assessed by a set of ten exams at the end of Hilary, has been increasingly criticised in recent years, due to the attainment gaps found between male and female candidates, as well as between candidates who have studied Latin and/or Greek to A-Level (Course I) and those who have not (Course II).

The removal of Virgil and Homer papers, which take up two out of the ten Mods papers, have been marketed as a move that will reduce the attainment gaps and thus improve access to the subject. However many have questioned why the solution to this problem involves the removal of Homer and Virgil.

There have been a number of other recent reforms proposed by the faculty, including changes to the way in which students are streamed based on previous levels of study as well as an increase in the amount of language tuition available to all Classicists. However, this most recent reform has accused of being an unnecessary step by members of the Classics faculty who claim that the removal of the compulsory study of Homer and Virgil would result in an incomplete and less fulfilling course of Classical study.

RTWT

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There were, and there are still, here and there even today, some who would take a different approach.

“You know,” [the headmaster] said, “we are starting this year with fifteen fewer classical specialists than we had last term?”

“I thought that would be about the number.”

“As you know I’m an old Greats man myself. I deplore it as much as you do. But what are we to do? Parents are not interested in producing the ‘complete man’ any more. They want to qualify their boys for jobs in the modern world. You can hardly blame them, can you?”

“Oh yes,” said Scott-King. “I can and do.”

“I always say you are a much more important man here than I am. One couldn’t conceive of Granchester without Scott-King. But has it ever occurred to you that a time may come when there will be no more classical boys at all?”

“Oh yes. Often.”

“What I was going to suggest was—I wonder if you will consider taking some other subject as well as the classics? History, for example, preferably economic history?”

“No, headmaster.”

“But, you know, there may be something of a crisis ahead.”

“Yes, headmaster.”

“Then what do you intend to do?”

“If you approve, headmaster, I will stay as I am here as long as any boy wants to read the classics. I think it would be very wicked indeed to do anything to fit a boy for the modern world.”

— Evelyn Waugh, Scott-King’s Modern Europe, 1947.

11 Feb 2020

Douthat Sees Decadence Without Drama

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Eric Fischl, The Old Man’s Boat and the Old Man’s Dog, 1982. –Our time’s version of The Raft of the Medusa.

Ross Douthat penned a pretty decadent essay last Sunday, contending that, yes, Virginia! we are living in a time of generalized decadence, and then, arguing that, though decadence ought to be resisted, at least, a bit, really decadence is not so bad after all. Yup, there is decadence for you, alright.

Following in the footsteps of the great cultural critic Jacques Barzun, we can say that decadence refers to economic stagnation, institutional decay and cultural and intellectual exhaustion at a high level of material prosperity and technological development. Under decadence, Barzun wrote, “The forms of art as of life seem exhausted, the stages of development have been run through. Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable result.” He added, “When people accept futility and the absurd as normal, the culture is decadent.” And crucially, the stagnation is often a consequence of previous development: The decadent society is, by definition, a victim of its own success.

Note that this definition does not imply a definitive moral or aesthetic judgment. (“The term is not a slur,” Barzun wrote. “It is a technical label.”) A society that generates a lot of bad movies need not be decadent; a society that makes the same movies over and over again might be. A society run by the cruel and arrogant might not be decadent; a society where even the wise and good can’t legislate might be. A crime-ridden society isn’t necessarily decadent; a peaceable, aging, childless society beset by flares of nihilistic violence looks closer to our definition.

Nor does this definition imply that decadence is necessarily an overture to a catastrophe, in which Visigoths torch Manhattan or the coronavirus has dominion over all. History isn’t always a morality play, and decadence is a comfortable disease: The Chinese and Ottoman empires persisted for centuries under decadent conditions, and it was more than 400 years from Caligula to the actual fall of Rome.

“What fascinates and terrifies us about the Roman Empire is not that it finally went smash,” wrote W.H. Auden of that endless autumn, but rather that “it managed to last for four centuries without creativity, warmth, or hope.”

Whether we are waiting for Christians or barbarians, a renaissance or the Singularity, the dilemma that Auden described is now not Rome’s but ours.

RTWT

25 Jan 2020

Yale Kills Renowned Art History Survey Course

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Jan Matejko, Stanczyk during a Ball at the Court of Queen Bona after the Loss of Smolensk, 1862.

July 1514: Stanczyk, the famous jester of Sigismund the Old, was renowned for his cynical humor, but Matejko shows the jester in a private moment of despair in a palace anteroom outside the royal ball being given by Queen Bona Sforza. On the table next to the jester, we see dispatches announcing the fall of Smolensk to the Muscovites. Alone among the denizens of Poland’s royal court, only Stanczyk the jester forsees with dread the rise of Moscow and the destruction of the Commonwealth.

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If Stanczyk were employed as jester these days at Yale Universuty in New Haven, Connecticut, he’d probably looked similarly after reading this Yale Daily News story.

Yale will stop teaching a storied introductory survey course in art history, citing the impossibility of adequately covering the entire field — and its varied cultural backgrounds — in one course.

Decades old and once taught by famous Yale professors like Vincent Scully, “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present” was once touted to be one of Yale College’s quintessential classes. But this change is the latest response to student uneasiness over an idealized Western “canon” — a product of an overwhelmingly white, straight, European and male cadre of artists.

This spring, the final rendition of the course will seek to question the idea of Western art itself — a marked difference from the course’s focus at its inception. Art history department chair and the course’s instructor Tim Barringer told the News that he plans to demonstrate that a class about the history of art does not just mean Western art. Rather, when there are so many other regions, genres and traditions — all “equally deserving of study” — putting European art on a pedestal is “problematic,” he said.

“I believe that every object I discuss in [“Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present”] (with the possible exception of one truly ghastly painting by Renoir) is of profound cultural value,” Barringer said in an email to the News. “I want all Yale students (and all residents of New Haven who can enter our museums freely) to have access to and to feel confident analyzing and enjoying the core works of the western tradition. But I don’t mistake a history of European painting for the history of all art in all places.”

Instead of this singular survey class, the Art History Department will soon offer a range of others, such as “Art and Politics,” “Global Craft,” “The Silk Road” and “Sacred Places.” Barringer added that in two or three years, his department will offer a substitute class to “Introduction to Art History.” But the new class “will be a course equal in status to the other 100-level courses, not the introduction to our discipline claiming to be the mainstream with everything else pushed to the margins,” Barringer said.

RTWT

It’s essential, you see, to flatter the amour propre of representatives of Identity Victim Groups (specially recruited and affirmatively actioned into Yale) by assuring them that the crude carvings of devils and bogeys their Stone Age ancestors turned out are the equivalent of Michelangelo’s David.

15 Sep 2019

Europe Faces Death by Bad Conscience

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Pascal Bruckner, in a must-read essay in Quillette, describes how Europe is allowing its own virtue to destroy it.

Western Europeans dislike themselves. They are unable to overcome their self-disgust and feel the pride in their heritage and the self-respect that is so strikingly evident in the United States. Modern Europe is instead mired in shame shrouded in moralizing discourse. It has convinced itself that, since all the evils of the twentieth century arose from its feverish bellicosity, it’s about time it redeemed itself and sought something like a reawakened sense of the sacred in its guilty conscience.

What better example of this proclivity exists than Angela Merkel’s embrace of about a million refugees fleeing war-torn Syria in 2015? Even though this gesture that would help replenish a shrinking labor force was not strictly disinterested, for this pastor’s daughter it was also a spectacular way to repudiate Nazism and escape its shadow. After the catastrophe of the Second World War, the Federal Republic would now offer itself as an ostentatious example to the world. Germany would practice open-heartedness in a single country, just as Stalin in the USSR had once practiced socialism in a single country. Already pre-eminent in Europe, Berlin would call the shots, whether exercising toughness or kindness. Merciless with the Greeks in July, when the Chancellery wanted to eject them from the eurozone, but beneficent with the Syrians in September, it could demonstrate severity or an ever so imperial charity. …

Many people are wondering why it is only Europe that feels guilty, not only for its own past crimes, but also for the faults of others? The answer is simple: we dominated the world for four centuries. The empires have collapsed but their memory remains, and this has given rise to an ever-expanding discipline: post-colonial studies. We have become the continent of the uneasy conscience and we wish to show the rest of the world the face of moral law in all its purity. Europe sees itself as a sacrificial offering, through which the entire world can expiate its sins. It offers to assume the shame for every misfortune that befalls the planet: famine in Africa, drowning in the Mediterranean, terrorism, natural disasters, they are all directly or indirectly our handiwork. And when we are attacked—by terrorists, for example—it’s still our fault; we had it coming and are undeserving of compassion. Since we are overcome by such a torrent of sins, all we can do is bear up and attempt to correct and atone for them all, one by one. An unctuous discourse intended to edify is replacing what was once political and historical analysis; an ideal society must replace the existing one of ordinary men, and be cleansed of its impurities. Two areas in particular reveal this delusion of sanctity—immigration and ecology.

RTWT

21 May 2019

Liberal Democracy is Dying

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Brett Stevens:

We have given in to mundane, socially acceptable evil that we now accept as good, and that starts with individualism/equality, which is the backdoor into the human psyche. All of the stuff that the far-Right detests — diversity, decay in behavior, shattering of the family, international finance, Idiocracy, mass/pop culture, ethnic crime — has its origins in equality or being used to justify equality as a workable program. We target the root, where everyone else is swatting at flies and missing the big point. …

The core of politics for me is realizing that most people mean well, but do not understand how their actions translate to reality. They see a thing, want that thing, and desire that some all-powerful force will make it so, but that is religious thinking, not leadership. Democracy means that whoever sells the most pleasurable lie wins, and as a result society has drifted Leftward. At the close of the twentieth century, however, it had become clear that the liberal West was dying just as the Communist East had done.”

and

CLS:

Successful civilizations lead to weak populations. Weak populations know they are inferior. They know this instinctively. They have no purpose for existing. They don’t articulate this directly. They act it out indirectly by throwing themselves into acts of symbolic importance because they are not capable of acts of importance.

23 Apr 2019

Camille Paglia: “The Movement Towards Androgyny Occurs in Late Phases of Culture, as a Civilization is Starting to Unravel”

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“The movement towards androgyny occurs in late phases of culture, as a civilization is starting to unravel. You can find it again and again and again through history. In the Greek art you could see it happening. All of a sudden the sculptures of handsome nude young men, athletes, that used to be very robust in the archaic period, suddenly begin to seem like wet noodles toward the end. And the people who live in such periods (late phases of culture) — whether it’s the Hellenistic era, whether it’s the Roman Empire, whether it’s the Mauve decade of Oscar Wilde in the 1890s, whether it’s Weimar Germany — people who live in such times feel that they are very sophisticated, they’re very cosmopolitan: “homosexuality, heterosexuality, so what, anything goes, and so on…” But from the perspective of historical distance, you can see that it’s a culture that no longer believes in itself. And then what you invariably get are people who are convinced of the power of heroic masculinity on the edges. Whether they be the Vandals and the Huns, or whether they’re the barbarians of ISIS, you see them starting to mass on the outsides of the culture. And that’s what we have right now. There’s a tremendous disconnect between the infatuation with the transgender movement in our own culture and what’s going on out there.”

23 Mar 2019

I Didn’t Make this Culture, I Just Report on It

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Tyler Durdin tells us that looking poor is hip this year, but looking poor can also be expensive.

A pre-soiled, distressed pair of Gucci sneakers will set you back $870.

17 Nov 2018

The Mission of the University

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University of Bologna, the oldest in the world, founded 1008.

A Facebook friend shared this:

Several weeks ago, a FB friend steered me to an essay on the decline of the university. It was pedestrian, as these things go; you likely know the reasoning as well as I do by now. But there was a reader’s comment attached that has haunted me since.

The reader argued that the essayist was upset because he (the essayist) assumed that the mission of the university was fixed. He (the reader) has a point. Most of the earliest universities in Europe and America were founded to glorify God and train clergy; that was the dominant university mission for over 600 years and only began to shift during the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment refocused (again, most) universities on the pursuit and dissemination of truth. (Note, that “t” is in the lowercase; truth, in the lowercase, is merely a correspondence between what is thought and said and a reality that exists independently of what is thought and said.)

Perhaps what’s going on now is yet another shift in the mission of universities–a shift away from the pursuit and dissemination of truth and toward a kind of bourgeois, psycho-therapeutic performance of collective identities and grievances.

If that’s what’s going on, then we are surely going to witness a schism within the university, a schism in which mathematics and hard sciences go in one direction (i.e., continue the pursuit and dissemination of truth) and the social sciences and humanities go in another direction (described above).

26 Apr 2017

If You Watch This Video, You’ll Be Sorry

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Bill Nye the Science Guy (if anyone were ever tempted to accept this bozo as an authority on “climate change,” just refer them to this) introduces Rachel Bloom who sings (in the intrinsically annoying rap style) the bizarre recent perspective of the Community of Fashion Establishment that holds that sex is not binary, there is some kind of spectrum (if so I’m on the very extreme male end), and whatever “feels right” (boy scout uniforms, 1936 Bendix wringer-type washing machines, mashed potatoes and dwarves?), go for it!

13 Mar 2017

Camille Paglia on Transgenderism and the Late Stages of Culture

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21 Dec 2016

How Things Have Changed

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19 Mar 2016

2016 Election Not Important

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NewZealanderLondonRuins
Gustave Doré, A Traveller from New Zealand Contemplating the Ruins of London.

“[W]hen some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s” — Thomas Babbington Macauley.

Selwyn Duke explains that the presumably-disastrous next presidential election doesn’t really matter all that much. America (and the rest of the West) is doomed anyway.

Many people lament that “Obama has destroyed America these last eight years” or, alluding to same, will say “I don’t recognize my country anymore.” This is much like viewing a woman who marries a greasy-haired, dope-smoking, heavily tattooed and pierced, unemployable reprobate and saying that her matrimonial decision destroyed her, when the real problem was that she was the kind of person who could make such a choice in the first place. Do you really think Obama isn’t a symptom at least as much as a cause? Do you think the 2008 A.D. America that elected him would have been recognizable to 1950 Americans?

And even if the next president is an anomalous good result, he won’t even be a pause that refreshes, but will at best slow down the runaway train racing toward the precipice. This is because our main problems aren’t illegal migration, trade deals or health care, as significant as those things are. Our problems are more fundamental.

Do you really want to save America? Okay, then completely transform the media, academia and entertainment so they’re not brainwashing citizens 24/7 with anti-American, anti-Christian, multiculturalist, socialist, feminist and a multitude of other lies. End legal immigration, which, via the importation of massive numbers of Third Worlders, is changing our country into a socialistic non-Western culture. Even more significantly, convince the 70-plus percent of Americans who are moral relativists to believe in Truth; these are people who, as the Barna Group research company put it, believe that what we call “truth is always relative to the person and their situation” and whose most common basis for moral decision-making is “doing whatever feels right….”

Read the whole thing.


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