Category Archives: History

Your Morning Cup of Links

“But what really works about Houston — and about America — is that line of guys saying, ‘I have a bass boat, a raincoat, and some rope — what can I do to help?’ There’s no army in the world that can replace that, and no amount of treasure that can buy it.”

The American Genius of Twin Peaks“But for all its ethereal whooshing and surrealist impressionism, this season of Twin Peaks is some of Lynch’s most grounded, humane, and contemporary work.”

Surfing religiously

Correct

My alma mater’s handling of its symbols has just been embarrassing.

LMAO

Four art biographies to read this autumn

Bacon’s lost pope

A delightful and affectionate history of the American cocktail (which the government almost killed)

A new collection of letters between Tolstoy and his wife, Tolstaya, casts light on the couple’s difficult and complex relationship

Does this mark the end of Spain’s three-hour lunch breaks?

How Artsy convinced galleries to sell fine art online

The drawings of the Old Masters

The Negroni fools no one – it’s easy to make and contains nothing but booze”

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, History, Politics, TV/Movies, Uncategorized

Your Morning Cup of Links

JFC. Can people just do the plays the way they’re written? Is that so hard? It makes no sense to have a female Henry V. None. It’s absurd. “Let’s make a movie about Queen Victoria in which she’s a dude,” said no one ever. You know why no one has ever said that? BECAUSE IT’S FUCKING RETARDED.

Unbelievable

Netflix, heir to Dickens?

Important journalism here by Matt Labash. A must-read.

An alternative history of jazz

Handwritten letters are the best

Unbelievable. Say goodbye to Gone With The Wind. What a dumb time to be alive. 

Wut #TheWorstGeneration

Yes. The main reason to like Taylor is that she’s smart enough to do the one thing no other entertainer will do: just shut the fuck up with your opinions and perform for us. That’s all we really want. I don’t want to know what you think about anything.

It’s amazing to me that this needs to be explained but Leftists are dumb.

Sheriff Joe is a terrible human being. Stop pretending otherwise.

First Amendment Protects Cinema’s Right to Show Unicorn Masturbation Scene While Serving Alcohol, Says Judge.” Well I should hope so.

“Does anybody understand what these New Trumpers think they’re achieving?”

What a dumb time to be alive

Does physical labor have a future and is anything lost if it doesn’t?

A brilliant history of U.S. Special Ops

A look at the life and work of American poet A.R. Ammons

Revisiting the phenomenon of Gef, the talking mongoose

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Politics, Uncategorized, Unusually Stupid Primates

Afternoon Links

This is so good:

What does an angry white boy really want? “A girlfriend,” comes the mocking answer, and there’s probably more to that than mockery. The proprietor of one of the nation’s premier websites for neo-Nazi knuckleheads advised his colleagues in Charlottesville that, after the protest — which included a murder — “random girls will want to have sex with you.” I ran this proposition past a few random girls, and I suspect that the apfelstrudelführers are going to go home disappointed. There are many shades of white, and Mom’s-basement white is the least popular crayon in the box.

The angry white boys do not have a serious political agenda. They don’t have any straightforward demands like the Teamsters or PETA do, and they do not have a well-developed ideological position like the Communists do, though it would be inaccurate to say that they lack an ideology entirely. Their agenda is their anger, an anger that is difficult to understand. Middle-class white men in the United States of America in anno Domini 2017 have their problems, to be sure. Life is full of little disappointments. But their motive is not to be found in their exterior circumstances, which are pretty good.

Maybe too good: A great many of these young men have an interest in evolutionary psychology and evolutionary sociology — they like to think of themselves as “alpha males,” as though they were living in a chimpanzee troop — but it never occurs to them to consider their own status as rejects and failed men in that context. Online fantasy lives notwithstanding, random girls do not want to have sex with them. How do we know this? Because they are carrying tiki torches in a giant dork parade in Charlottesville. There’s no prom queen waiting at home. If we credit their own sociobiological model, they are the superfluous males who would have been discarded, along with their genetic material, by the pitiless state of nature. The fantasy of proving that they are something else is why they dream of violence and confrontation. They are the products of the soft liberal-democratic society they hold in contempt — and upon which they depend, utterly. James Alex Fields Jr. is angry at the world, and angry at his mother, probably for the same reason.

What does an angry white boy want? The fact that they get together to play dress-up — to engage in a large and sometimes murderous game of cowboys and Indians — may give us our answer. They want to be someone other than who they are. That’s the great irony of identity politics: They seek identity in the tribe because they are failed individuals. They are a chain composed exclusively of weak links. What they are engaged in isn’t politics, but theater: play-acting in the hopes of achieving catharsis.

I agree, in part, with all of these pieces on the Confederate statue issue…

First, at The Federalist:

The statue and the name should remain, not because they represent a history and heritage worth celebrating, but because they represent the history and heritage we have. It is not uplifting or inspiring, but haunting. And that is the point. Lee’s cause is an everlasting stain on this country’s history. It is not to be romanticized, but it must be remembered. Our rejection of it does not erase its existence or change the fact that we must deal with its aftermath. What one should see in a statue of Lee is a ghost: a remainder from a past we cannot banish. It is important to remember that we live in a country built by strife and bloodshed, as well as hope and prosperity. That is the value of a Lee monument in a society that has largely rejected him: to remember he existed, remember his mistakes, and preserve that memory to avoid repeating it. Having it in a public space can be a reminder that this sordid history is still with us, no matter how we try to bury it.

It is important for everyday people, most of whom try to be decent as well, to remember Lee—not as a hero, but as a man who devoted himself to the wrong ideals and, whatever sort of individual he may have been, found himself on the wrong side of one of the most decisive and morally laden moments in history. Instead of tearing down the monuments that stand in his name, we should build more right next to them and remind ourselves not only of the man but also of the trail of suffering and dead his decision to fight for the Confederacy left in its wake. Accompany his statues with displays that affirm the great service his defeat did to this country, and pay tribute to the progress made possible by it and the people who overcame the challenges he left behind.

These lessons shouldn’t be confined to museums. We have to make people confront it in their daily lives. That, after all, is where the past still confronts us and where our takeaways from his life’s story have their impact. The white-nationalist mobs who see Lee as a hero of Western civilization are proof themselves that the true lesson of Lee and his legacy still needs to be taught—evidently, some of us aren’t getting it.

Next, from Rich Lowry:

Some discrimination is in order. There’s no reason to honor Jefferson Davis, the blessedly incompetent president of the Confederacy. New Orleans just sent a statue of him to storage — good riddance. Amazingly enough, Baltimore has a statue of Chief Justice Roger Taney, the author of the monstrous Dred Scott decision, which helped precipitate the war. A city commission has, rightly, recommended its destruction.

Robert E. Lee, on the other hand, is a more complicated case. He was no great friend of slavery…After the war, he accepted defeat and did his part to promote national healing. Yet, faced with a momentous choice at the start of the war, he decided he was a Virginia patriot rather than an American nationalist…He betrayed the U.S. government and fought on the side devoted to preserving chattel slavery…Lee himself opposed building Confederate monuments in the immediate aftermath of the war. “I think it wiser,” he said, “not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavoured to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.”

And from Kyle Smith:

Even if taking down the statues is a good idea, this isn’t the moment to do it. Emotions are running hot. When a mob is in a frenzy, maintain order until tempers cool. Don’t give it space to destroy. Rich believes that the statues need to go because they are becoming “rallying points for neo-Nazis,” but I can’t believe that the white supremacists, small and feeble as their movement is, would disappear if all of the old Confederate statues were taken down. If anything, that would give them a fillip of energy, a recruitment tool. The best response to white supremacists is to let them march and let them speak — then ridicule and marginalize them. This isn’t hard: They’re already ridiculous and marginal. Civil War statues may be beloved by white supremacists, but they are a kind of speech, and the antidote to bad speech is more speech. Don’t care for a statue of Robert E. Lee? Fine. I don’t either. Let’s recontextualize it. Let’s put up a statue of Harriet Tubman next to it. History is an ongoing discussion.

Bottom line: These decisions cannot be allowed to be made by a mob and a distinction needs to be made between actual monuments to the Confederacy and statues that are not monuments to the Confederacy (i.e. the Castleman statue in Louisville). But that would require thought and mobs are unthinking, so here we are, in an unnecessary situation where everyone is pissed. I believe the conservative instinct is the answer here: Do nothing. Let it be. As usual, Kevin Williamson says it best:

Many of the monuments and statues now being abominated and disassembled were not erected in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War but some years after, often in reaction to such modest advances in the political and social condition of African Americans as the early 20th century produced. Some were nothing short of consecrated shrines to white supremacy erected to Southern political powers in league with such miscreants as the Ku Klux Klan. To the extent that today’s reaction against these monuments is in essence Democrats cleaning up their own mess, there is some justice to it. But there would have been some justice to it in 1938 or 1964 as well. The current attack on Confederate monuments is only another front in the Left’s endless kulturkampf.

We should not, in any case, accept the fiction that what is transpiring at the moment is a moral crusade rather than political opportunism…The older and wiser cultures learn to absorb, to repurpose, and to allow the patina of age to cover up the lingering pangs of historical wrongs. Which is good: You cannot walk 25 feet in Rome without seeing a monument associated with some ancient horror or a statue of some god-awful emperor, but it would be a shame if they’d all been knocked down for political or moralistic purposes. And not all of these are important works of art: Some of them are simply old.

Keeping non-whites in a state of panic and agitation is necessary to Democrats’ political aspirations…The Democrats’ motives here are tawdry and self-serving, for the most part. As cheap and silly as Southern sentimentality can be, the desire to reduce and humiliate one’s fellow citizens is distasteful. We would all do better to take Abraham Lincoln’s advice: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.”…What ought conservatives to do? They should listen to the oldest and most widely applicable of all the councils of conservatism and do — exactly — nothing. The ancient conservative bias in favor of inertia here points toward the wiser course…In the words of the conservative philosopher Paul McCartney: Let it be. Republicans were on the winning side of the Civil War the first time around. There is no need to join the losing side after the fact.

Yes

Do you have what it takes to be a sommelier?

Why I have special contempt for the “at least Trump fights!” people: “The real threat to traditional conservatism is the mindset that made it possible to form even a theoretical alliance with the alt-right in the first place: the idea that winning and fighting are self-justifying.”

A new history of the Donner party

Jonathan Meades reviews an anthology of Hipgnosis’s vinyl cover art

The day you discover Jane Austen is a great day.

A walking tour of London’s forgotten libraries

A history of plywood and how it helped the Allies win WWII

Earliest known mosaic of Jonah and the whale discovered in Israel

What libraries lost when they got rid of card catalogs

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Literature, Politics, Uncategorized

Afternoon Links

Explaining Trump’s Charlottesville behavior

How DARPA shaped modern life

What Philip Larkin’s personal objects tell us about the poet

Why I love album rock (I refuse to call it progressive rock) in a nutshell: “Not only did prog lyricists eschew the themes of resentment and cynicism we find in other rock music, but the musicians drew from more staid traditions of classical music and even Anglican hymns…In one of the most infamous sections in The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom complained that young people were listening only to rock music and not to classical music—and that rock music appealed exclusively to the passions, leaving no room for refined, more rationally guided sentiment. Bloom’s assessment of rock music could not be less true of prog, with its elaborate concept albums and musical complexity—to say nothing of the way it was influenced by and carried forth the tradition of European classical music. Here was music that was challenging to compose and to enjoy, and that did not appeal exclusively to the passions…The rise of prog rock shows that it is possible to have artistically ambitious and intellectually sophisticated modern music that embraces and draws on rather than rebelling against artistic tradition.”

“Smartphones are destroying my generation”

Meet Nevada’s ‘cow cops’

Why kids can’t write

Trump’s horrifying ‘Take 3’ on Charlottesville: the press conference of the alt-right’s dreams

Why Hollywood stopped making John Grisham movies

“The vulgar manliness of Donald Trump”

A great David Brooks column on how to roll back fanaticism. Here’s an excerpt:

We’re living in an age of anxiety. The country is being transformed by complex forces like changing demographics and technological disruption. Many people live within a bewildering freedom, without institutions to trust, unattached to compelling religions and sources of meaning, uncertain about their own lives. Anxiety is not so much a fear of a specific thing but a fear of everything, an unnamable dread about the future. People will do anything to escape it.

Donald Trump is the perfect snake oil salesman for this moment. He lacks inwardness and therefore is terrified by the possibility of anxiety. He has been escaping self-scrutiny his whole life and has become a genius at the self-exculpating rationalization. He took a nation beset by uncertainty and he gave it a series of “explanations” that were simple, crude, affirming and wrong.

Trump gave people a quick pass out of anxiety. Everything could be blamed on foreigners, the idiotic elites. The problems are clear, and the answers are easy. He has loosed a certain style of thinking. The true link between the Trump administration and those pathetic loons in Charlottesville is not just bigotry, but also conspiracy mongering.

The age of anxiety inevitably leads to an age of fanaticism, as people seek crude palliatives for the dizziness of freedom. I’m beginning to think the whole depressing spectacle of this moment — the Trump presidency and beyond — is caused by a breakdown of intellectual virtue, a breakdown in America’s ability to face evidence objectively, to pay due respect to reality, to deal with complex and unpleasant truths. The intellectual virtues may seem elitist, but once a country tolerates dishonesty, incuriosity and intellectual laziness, then everything else falls apart.

In fact, the most powerful answer to fanaticism is modesty. Modesty is an epistemology directly opposed to the conspiracy mongering mind-set. It means having the courage to understand that the world is too complicated to fit into one political belief system. It means understanding there are no easy answers or malevolent conspiracies that can explain the big political questions or the existential problems.

The vanishing world of the Transylvanian aristocracy

Highland retreats

Ezra Pound’s asylum years

One of the world’s most confounding literary mysteries may finally be, in part, solved

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Music, Politics, TV/Movies, Uncategorized

Your Morning Cup of Links

Dunkirk and our crisis of national identity

Today in “if Obama had said it”…This is also rich coming from a guy whose actual house looks like it was decorated by Flavor Flav’s dentist.

The long and strange quest to discover where babies come from

The slow death of the electric guitar

There is no man on a horse coming to solve our problems, no matter how ‘tough’ he is — or pretends to be.”

The GOP has become the party of the grotesque

Special Forces test out ‘Boba Fett” combat helmet

It’s not good to see so many generals in the White House

A reporter’s journey through Tripoli: Long lines, kidnappings, and murder

Remember all those left-wing pundits who drooled over Venezuela?

A history of the short story

Why Broadway’s “1984” audiences are fainting, vomiting, and getting arrested

Leave a comment

Filed under Around the World, History, Politics, Uncategorized

Your Morning Cup of Links

On health care, bipartisan dishonesty is the problem

Exhumation of Salvador Dali’s remains finds his mustache still intact

Goethe: Life as a Work of Art

The limits of a history of the cross in Christian art

Mary Beard on voting in the ancient world

The dumbest thing you’ll read this week

Civil asset forfeiture is un-American and incompatible with a free society

How capitalism saved the bees

Insanity

No, it’s time to actually teach people something in high school, where algebra is supposed to be taught.

Every word of this

“One of the great enduring stupidities of modern economic life is the belief that buying American is somehow beneficial to the United States as a whole.”

What was Wagner like?

“Trump was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.”

Disband this Party. Unfit to govern.

A new theory of how the moon formed

Hillary’s White House would be no different than Trump’s

Julius Caesar in Gaul

A history of heart surgery

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Literature, Politics, Science, Uncategorized, Unusually Stupid Primates

Afternoon Links

Idea: Don’t do a live-action version. It will be garbage, like all the others have been.

Today in things that shouldn’t have to be explained, but apparently do because Americans have lost their minds

It’s been sad to watch Tucker Carlson’s descent to idiot carnival barker troll. He’s smarter than this, but Trumpism corrupts.

Lol

Game of Thrones: A Game For Our Time

Great job, everyone!

More high school teachers are handing out A’s. But the bad news is that students aren’t necessarily learning more. Recent findings show that the proportion of high school seniors graduating with an A average — that includes an A-minus or A-plus — has grown sharply over the past generation, even as average SAT scores have fallen. In 1998, it was 38.9%. By last year, it had grown to 47%.

That’s right: Nearly half of America’s Class of 2016 are A students. Meanwhile, their average SAT score fell from 1,026 to 1,002 on a 1,600-point scale — suggesting that those A’s on report cards might be fool’s gold.

When did people lose the ability to sit still and silent and focus on one thing for a couple hours? How hard is that? Are we all infants now?

“But we don’t live on an alternate earth, one in which almost any other 2016 Republican candidate for president was elected. We live on this earth, and on Monday, the day that the health-care bill died, the new president was literally playing around in a firetruck on the White House lawn.”

Is film serious art?

Spanish police recover three stolen Francis Bacon paintings

How Pixar lost its way

The return of Italy’s pipe organs

The bizarre world of the Guardian newspaper

Why do we love Jane Austen? Because of her timeless morality.

A history of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth in art

How religion shaped London and its architecture

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, History, Politics, Religion, TV/Movies, Uncategorized