Thursday, February 14, 2019

Bishop Robert Barron on Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve

My experience reading Greenblatt's book was similar to the Bishop's.

Jefferson was more Thomist than he was Epicurean.  Natural theology is Jefferson's concern, and the place of Lucretius's (nascent and undeveloped) theory in his thinking is minor. Atomism is  subsumed in Jefferson's larger interest in studying nature comprehensively, and--more to the point--Jefferson's goal is Aristotelian:  a quest for Happiness, the pursuit of Eudemonia.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Fellini Haiku

facial cameos
sudden objects, disclosures
normal is not real

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

About Michael Butterworth

Highbrow readers are familiar with Michael Butterworth, who is a member of the International Authors Board of Editorial Advisors, as well as a regular contributor to Emanations. His novel My Servant the Wind is soon to be be published by Null23 in association with International Authors.

Please click HERE to view his new web site.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Thursday, February 7, 2019

More highbrow advice from Aristotle

Aristotle teaching Alexander

 “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” 
                 --Aristotle, Metaphysics
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Read more at:
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle
Read more at:
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle
Read more at:

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Highbrow advice from Aristotle

Thus it is manifest that the best political community is formed by citizens of the middle class, and that those states are likely to be well-administered in which the middle class is large, and stronger if possible than both the other classes, or at any rate than either singly.

             -- Aristotle, The Politics, Book IV, Part XI
Buzz Aldrin, Tranquility Base

Please click HERE for more highbrow advice.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

20th-Century Modernism as Secular Religion

Modernism--early-to-mid 20th century modernism--seems to want to place poems (or any variety of creative articles) in the position of some kind of sacred object that we should "mindlessly venerate" in the same way that St. Augustine would have us privilege faith over reason. In the case of Augustine, however, he has pretty good reasons for having us do so. In Modernism, the privileged article of veneration is rather something that occupies a place in our psychologies, a sort of daemonic "fixation" that compares to consumer products, screeching rock musicians, waving flags, dubious political shibboleths, and the opinions of "authoritative" critics and scholars.

I remember discussing such ideas with my father as we strolled together through the Toledo Museum of Art, when who should we run into but Cleanth Brooks, who was walking with one of my professors, Wallace Martin. In later years, Prof. Martin was to become my mentor and one of my closest friends.

As we approached Wally and Prof. Brooks, my father encouraged me to share my concerns. I told Prof. Brooks that I sometimes felt that "great critics" were a validation for obscure professors to share in some of that "greatness" as they repeated "great" things in the classrooms of provincial universities. Prof. Brooks agreed to my point. The brief conversation that ensued was marked by a "matter of course affect" that normalized my observation, and we turned to the more appropriate subject of the museum, which is a remarkably good one for so small a city.

Though not being rude, I was of course being awkward--and moreover encouraged by my father, who was an ambivalence artist, of sorts. These days, I should have a better question for Prof. Brooks, or maybe a follow up... If my father could be there, too, and standing in the aura of his mystique, I might follow my point, suggesting that, "But after all, critics, particularly in the field of critical theory, often have interesting things to say.  What is the most interesting thing you've had to say, Professor Brooks?"

And if he went for that, another question I might ask is, "What do you think of Nabakov characterizing Faulkner as "corn-cobby?"

See here, at 3:25:

Nabokov says:
I've been perplexed and amused by fabricated notions about so-called Great Books. For instance, Mann's asinine Death in Venice; and Pasternak's melodramatic and vilely written Doctor Zhivago; or Faulkner's corn-cobby chronicles.
And I'll leave it at that.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Wednesday, January 30, 2019


A simple yet pleasing enough image. Please click HERE if you feel so disposed.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Physician, heal thyself

Last September, an article in Collective Evolution entitled "Renowned Doctor Slams Medical Education & Says We Have 'An Epidemic of Misinformed Doctors'" begins:
Dr. Asseem Malhotra is known as one of the most influential cardiologists in Britain and a world-leading expert in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. Currently, he is leading a huge campaign against excess sugar consumption. What also makes him unique is something he recently admitted took him decades to figure out: that our entire medical system, one of the main ‘protectors’ of the human race, is completely corrupt. He now believes that medical education is a state of “complete system failure,” causing “an epidemic of misinformed doctors.”  He also stated that honest doctors can no longer practice honest medicine, and that there is also a growing epidemic of patients who are being harmed.
This calls to mind a note from a friend (whom I originally met in a 17th century literature class) after his first semester in medical school: "We really know very little about medicine, disease, the human body. Burton was right!" He was referring to Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. Most of what for-profit science (i.e. bad science) is treating physically is rather rooted in our emotions, how we live... John Locke, who was first of all a physician, and who "wrote the book" on real modern science, basically says the same thing. And Rabelais, too, says the same thing, and so on.

Burton writes:

Melancholy, the subject of our present discourse, is either in disposition or in habit. In disposition, is that transitory Melancholy which goes and comes upon every small occasion of sorrow, need, sickness, trouble, fear, grief, passion, or perturbation of the mind, any manner of care, discontent, or thought, which causes anguish, dulness, heaviness and vexation of spirit, any ways opposite to pleasure, mirth, joy, delight, causing forwardness in us, or a dislike. In which equivocal and improper sense, we call him melancholy, that is dull, sad, sour, lumpish, ill-disposed, solitary, any way moved, or displeased. And from these melancholy dispositions no man living is free, no Stoic, none so wise, none so happy, none so patient, so generous, so godly, so divine, that can vindicate himself; so well-composed, but more or less, some time or other, he feels the smart of it. Melancholy in this sense is the character of Mortality... This Melancholy of which we are to treat, is a habit, a serious ailment, a settled humour, as Aurelianus and others call it, not errant, but fixed: and as it was long increasing, so, now being (pleasant or painful) grown to a habit, it will hardly be removed.
Have a look at the book, HERE.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Emanations in Korea

Professor Hodges is finding Emanations: Chorus Pleiades hard to pin down.

Please click HERE for the story.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Lunar Eclipse, January 21, 2019: Three Observations

It was very clear last night, and I observed with binoculars. The shadow made the craters stand out in sharp relief...

The shadow also enhanced the spherical 3-D appearance of our orbicular neighbor...

The orange-red color made me wonder how the Moon might have appeared long ago when the surface was largely molten...

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Very fey... But is it highbrow?

          Bells and Harps
If the wind should moan and crave
Merry I go to the churchyard grave
But if one kite should cry
I'll light a candle and close my eyes
If two doves should call
Peace will swell and burst withal
If three ships at sea should sink
All ships' hands the sea shall drink
If four stars fall from the sky
Heaven's watchers wonder why
If five rings on one hand gleam
The other jealous will poorer seem
If six days are passed in rain
The seventh sees the sun again
If seven days touch the sun
Another week will have begun
If eight priests bless the way
In hallow joy we'll sing a lay
If nine swords are raised on high
'Tis a sign for you and I
If ten bells should ring
The lizard's dead, long live the King
If eleven harps by air are brushed
Then in the wind our fears shall crush
For in those airs of circles spoken
We touch life's dreams in passing token

"Mount of Five Treasures (Two Worlds)" Nicholas Roerich

Saturday, January 19, 2019

A Poem in "Second Sight"


A Vision of the Peak of Ben More
           (glimpsed from St Andrews)

Upon the ruin of that broken cone
Where an elide notion may pause and linger
And float a riddle there, sidelong
That broad ocean plain of running colors
Channeled in rivulets of wavering form
As cool and flowing as the inconstant sky
Ah, some trick of time, that three-side darkness
A form too geometric, could this be
The repercussion of mere erosion,
Broken stone condensed from sacristan fumes?
But there it stands, a portal nonetheless:
A scree triangle breaks wide to worlds ulterior,
A diadem glimmer of crag-hung moods
Drawn in the wake of swift sensation.
In that triangle gapes a deep
Knotted passage that sounds low
In tones unheard but full as chorus
Memory down through darkness plunging
To sway periodic, to swing and sweep,
Now decrescendo, now diminuendo
A pendulum moved by odd alignments,
Insight again, and sacred laugh,
The vision lights, the astral flights
That pleat against the spheres, then see
Susceptible henchmen run forth
To seize the heavens as they fall
Thus though dead as ordained life,
All that’s born wakes to crawl
Pushed between thighs of sleep
In visions bred or borrowed
Or fed upon Promethean liver, we
Grow as maps of blood vessels, webs
Of radiance condensed upon calcified bands
And on the opposite coast at the foot
Of St Rule’s Ruins, high church canticles
Casting tentacles like shore lights and sea glare
Beneath partial clouds and shrieking gulls—
Fagin rooks castle on crow’s step gables.
While alone the tale of empty cliffs
Where the martyrs’ marks in brick are set
Here on this spot the pole-stake was driven
The mad fire raised high, pacing smoke
Carried away the prayers and the cries
And what else but now only
Silent sorrow condescends a clue,
And reason with a furrowed brow
Takes a seat and repeats oblique
Syllogisms that speak of
Rebirth—the rune that spells
Return to the tale’s essentials….
Yet curtains will fall on this scene of passage
And bursting with dull elementals
Who turn out again and again, and reiterate
The cast of heaven eternal,
A troop beyond the millions
Like flint points condensed through thunder
From vapors that scud through a vision,
A horde of thoughts, a host of glimmers
To pinion the clouds that opinion round
A scree triangle against the azure.
"A Vision of the Peak of Ben More" is among my poems appearing in the first volume of Emanations.