Author Archives: Matt

More Off the Shelf Remarks

The following quote by William Hazlitt originally appeared in a delightful essay by Prof. E. J. Hutchison of Hillsdale College (“The Hedonism of Reading Good Books“). In praising the habit of making and maintaining the acquaintance of a venerable tome, … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Culture, Literature

Silent Friends

There are some passages in Kierkegaard’s essay “Be Satisfied with Being Human” which contain marvelous insights. Speaking of sorrow and commiseration, the Danish writer notes that [E]veryone who sorrows… is perhaps also tempted to impatience and does not want to … Continue reading

Posted in Existentialism, Philosophy, Religion

Rethinking Political Science

The best known volume by Eric Voegelin is The New Science of Politics (1952). His discussion of philosophical and revolutionary “gnosticism” is the most popularized aspect of the work; however, in this post I want to examine the concept of … Continue reading

Posted in Eric Voegelin, History, Philosophy, Politics

Sainte-Beuve’s Literary Portraits

The French writer Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804-69) is deemed the founding father of modern literary criticism. He was a latter-day Plutarch. But unlike the prolific Greek biographer, most of his subjects were intellectual figures rather then generals or statesmen. Some … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Culture, History, Literature

The Quiet Desperation of Caryl Bramsley

Maurice Baring’s novel “C”, published in 1924, is a fictional memoir about a late Victorian/Edwardian character named Caryl Bramsley (nicknamed “C” by his friends). The book is similar to Baring’s stories Cat’s Cradle, Tinker’s Leave and Coat Without Seam—repeating many … Continue reading

Posted in Literature

Out West with Max Brand

For many years I have been a devoted fan of Frederick Faust (a.k.a. Max Brand), whose novels and short stories have been continuously in print for the past century. So it’s high time I put in a mention for this … Continue reading

Posted in Literature

Ernst Jünger as Cultural “Anarch”

I have been working my way through a rare, and very rewarding, series of conversations with Ernst Jünger, the First World War hero and author. The volume, The Details of Time (1995), was published toward the end of the writer’s … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Culture, Literature, Philosophy

Stalin’s Short Cuts and the Judgment of History

Stalin’s attempts at “short-cutting” history are numerous. They are also rather ironic, since classical Marxism took a more “evolutionary” than “revolutionary” approach to politics. According to Karl Marx the transition from feudalism to capitalism to socialism was both gradual and … Continue reading

Posted in History, Politics

When Words Fail

There are two ways in which words can fail us: either we find them wholly inadequate to the intensity of our feelings, or else speech is appropriate yet the words chosen are done so without care.  As an example of … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Culture

Enlightened Skepticism

Israeli philosopher Yoram Hazony has penned an interesting essay in The Wall Street Journal (“The Dark Side of the Enlightenment”) about Stephen Pinker’s Enlightenment Now. I have not read the volume in question, but the fact that Bill Gates calls … Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy