Above: Antonio Vivarini. Adoration of the Magi, ca. 1445, tempera on poplar wood. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Occasional Reflections on Splendor and Decline
The Late, Great American Anglo: An Omaggio and Appreciation
“At home, ere I sailed o’er the billowy brine,
A large and a liberal outlook was mine,
The faults of the Briton
Appeared to be written
In letters remarkably fine.
--Punch, “Caelum, non animum,” Sept. 26, 1906
During the summer of the 2020 Antifa and BLM riots, select members of the Great Unwashed stormed the grounds of my longtime family condo in the Kalorama section of Washington, D.C., in a thick ooze of gelatinous body mass that loudly vibrated with the usual potty-mouth patois of “millennials,” i.e., late Rome’s deaf, dumb, and blind kids urging Gaiseric to the gates. They positioned themselves at two main entrances of the building while attempting to smash its exterior wrought-iron-barred windows and massive front doors in a dazed and confused outrage over Trump’s postmaster general, who lived there. (What the kerfuffle was about, exactly, I no longer recall but will assume that les cheques du stimulus of that free-sh*t belle époque had eluded the sweaty clench of their collective fat fist.) With our trusty manager and so-called concierge crouched down and cringing behind security cameras, there suddenly appeared in the lobby the calm silhouette of an elegant woman, verging on elderly but beautifully dressed and athletically alert, gliding assuredly toward the main door, golf club in hand.
This particular building, once home to White House cabinet members, ambassadors, the equestrian mistress of a Saudi king, and a renowned classical musician who risked his neck decades ago rehabilitating artists tortured by Reds, was now inhabited by Squishy Libs who erstwhile stayed locked in their Caesarstone palaces of doom, shaking like bunnies. In a good burst of bravura, the grande dame swung open the door and told the crowd where they could shove their Molotovs and, if they persisted, the golf club as well. Please continue reading here
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Old Masters Painting & Sculpture
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On the Beautiful Violence of Old Masters Painting
“To define art is to define life.”
—William R. Bradshaw, 1890
Once upon a time, there was a rape that changed the course of world history. The event was immortalized in a stunning work of art, Titian's Tarquino e Lucretia. The scene depicts the soldier Sextus Tarquinius, the son of a sixth century (BC) Roman king, dagger in hand, implacable anger, insatiable desire in his eyes, about to assault the “chaste and virtuous” Lucretia, wife of his cousin and kinsman Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus. The intensity of the image captures the aggressor’s passion and his victim’s horror as his body lunges forward and she recoils in fear—a voluptuous figure of blonde waves and alabaster body engulfed by the lonely luxury of her dark bedroom. Tarquinius has come one evening to visit the home of Lucretia and her husband, Collantinus, and other visiting fellow soldiers. Aware of and aroused by the noblewoman’s famed dignity and reputation, Tarquinius stealthily enters her room that night and threatens to kill her if she does not consent to his advance, stating that he will defend the murder to her husband as an honor killing of an adulterous discovery between her and one of her slaves. Following the act, Tarquinius flees and Lucretia later tells the entire story of what took place before her husband and her brother. She then commits suicide before the two of them, declaring that in the choice between life and honor, death is the only way to preserve the latter. In the ensuing outrage, led by Collantinus and his friend Lucius Iunis Brutus, war is declared on the royal Tarquinius family and the Kingdom of Rome is destroyed. In its place, the ancient Republic of Rome is established, built on the martyrdom of Lucretia, who lives on in Western memory as one of the nine great heroines of antiquity. “Alas, Tarquino!,” the poet Ovid would write during the reign of Augustus nearly five centuries later. “How much that one night cost you your Kingdom! Please continue here
The Lost Continent of Novanglus--Or: Is the Constitution Anti-American? July 4, 2023
“What do they know of England who only England know?”
--Sir John Seely
Of the various forms of existential menace that besiege the attention of any conscientious conservative these days, I have found myself particularly harassed by the question of why and how the United States of America only 250 years into her peculiar existence is already in decline—and what a breathtaking fall from grace it has been, indeed. Melancholic reflection tends to concentrate one’s focus with both profundity and fervor, and when this search for answers began after some time to assume the lantern-in-hand labyrinthine quality that poor Diogenes was warned would make him no friends, I realized that I might have struck upon the secrets of the strange democratic-republican alchemic process by which a nation’s golden youth matures into lead. As abhorrent as it might seem to the right-leaning American mind, an honest investigation into the foundations of our phenomenal founding reveals certain truths about the character of our country that presaged its current collapse. That is, neither the Left nor the libertines, the speculators nor the central banksters, the Sino-globalists nor l’etat profond are the source-origin of this oppressive state of affairs. Rather, the reasons are fundamentally philosophical, which is to say that the principles that once defined the nature our excellence have been recast as the instruments of our own self-subversion. This corruption has permeated so deeply into the exalted language and ideals of our founding that, at this point, nothing can reverse the decline without an overhaul of our character of government, which I argue must be secession, or ‘allied secession’, described below.
Let me begin by summarizing the conclusions of a long night’s intellectual journey into the dawn and now the dusk of our once-upon-a-time fabled great experiment:
First, that it was a mistake, a grave one, to have organized the United States as a federal republic; second (Please continue here).
The State as a Work of Art
"Lorenzo ‘Il Magnifico‘, on his death bed, turned his face away from Savonarola to look outside at his City as the priest exhorted him to repent of Florence. The prince refused to answer, gazed at the Duomo, sighed and died."
Jacob Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, 1860
It was an excellent friendship between Monarch and Republican: King Charles I with his implacable Stuart pride in Divine Right and Absolutism, and James Harrington, champion of the philosophy of the Commonwealth, later to write his famous Oceana (1656), a constitution of the Perfect State based upon the exalted model of Venice--La Serenissima, as She was better known: the mythological and mystagogical sorceress-city of stability, independence and gloire. The hated King wanted none of Harrington’s hoary disquisitions on balances-of-power and wills-of-people but loved his companion’s intellectual company, finding his powers of mind without peer. When the time came that the great Charles I fled his first round of imprisonment under charges of high treason, Harrington refused to take an oath of loyalty to incoming Cromwellians and to report His Majesty’s escape. And when the hour of execution arrived, Charles I requested that his utopian friend accompany him to the scaffold where the proud monarch would breathe and behold his final moments of sceptered isle, other Eden, and precious stone in silver sea that gray January day, 1649. Please continue here