Author Archives: Matt

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

The Observant Traveler

English writer Hilaire Belloc was observant not only in his travels, but also in his journey through life. Consider the essay “On Wandering” in Places (1941): A man wanders in order to entertain himself with new discoveries and experiences…. But … Continue reading

Posted in Hilaire Belloc, Literature, Philosophy

Detectives and Philosophers

I picked up a new set of the Bantam two volume edition of Sherlock Holmes to replace the tattered copies acquired during my college days. I started with “A Study in Scarlet” a  novella length story, published in the 1887 … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Literature, Philosophy

A Habit of Silence

“And over and above all else we must keep at hand… the saying of Simonides, that he had often repented of speaking, but never of holding his tongue.”—Plutarch The idea of talking (or writing) about silence is admittedly ripe with … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Plutarch

Some Notes on Living

The time that I have not spent recently in blogging has been devoted to an online course on Communist Russia. Taking a momentary break, and picking through my accumulated notes from recent weeks’ reading, I thought this comment by Samuel … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Religion, Samuel Johnson, Stoicism