The poetic question

Whoever wants to become a Christian must first become a poet. That’s what it is! You must suffer. You must love and suffer–suffer for the one you love.

- Holy Elder Porphyrios

What a subject to write upon; it is difficult to even know where to begin. There is no doubt that most people believe – rightly or wrongly – that poetry is pretty much dead. Now, I don’t think I can definitively agree or disagree with this opinion, and not because I have no opinion on the matter, but rather, far too many for a simple assent or denial.

The problem is simple: no great poet has arisen in our generation, or at least, none that we know of. We cannot tell the difference between the Great One laboring in obscurity and the Great One having been aborted as a fetus when his erstwhile mother was a co-ed at Berkeley. Our lack of knowledge is an impenetrable wall, but not for lack of information. Certainly there are thousands writing poetry, if not millions… and how many would love to vie for the title reserved for Dante or Virgil? It may just be that there is a lull, since every generation is not equally blessed in any department.

But furthermore, most people feel alienated from poetry itself; not that we cannot find a poem we like or a poet we like — but rather, what seems to be thought worthy of being poetry – say, not that rhyming stuff – is to most of us academic, almost purely intellectual, ‘revolutionarily conservative‘, or even obscene or objectionable in content, and us with no real good argument that ‘this isn’t what poetry should be’, other than our own lying philistine eyes.


OSS Jefferson State 2

Has the Jefferson statehood movement stalled?

That was the narrative coming off this series of votes, which saw a union-backed opposition defeat the referendum in Del Norte County, even though the one in Tehama County passed.

The Shasta County supervisors voted down a Jefferson proposal last month too, but according to this letter in the Redding Record-Searchlight, the room wasn’t happy about it:

I went to the Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning and was very disappointed. The room was standing room only with supporters in favor of the State of Jefferson. Those in favor outnumbered opponents 7-to-1. The supervisors who voted against supporting the State of Jefferson movement said they haven’t seen any proof that such a state would be economically viable. How do you explain in three minutes something as complicated as dividing a state into two separate states?

This Tuesday, Sutter County’s board of supervisors is expected to adopt a resolution in support of Jefferson secession:

Interesting discussion was held by the Sutter Supervisors on Tuesday, July 8th, who all stated their frustration with the State of California and said they support the 51st State of Jefferson project. But the supervisors decided to write their own resolution regarding withdrawal from the state. So it will be during their July 22nd Board meeting, when they will finalize a resolution with a vote.

According to this article, the board is unanimous:

Each board member told the room packed with State of Jefferson advocates on Tuesday they supported withdrawal of North State counties from the rest of California.

So, no, it doesn’t really look like things have stalled at all.


Sacred Harp 39t: ‘Detroit’

The song used in this awesome scene from the John Hillcoat/Nick Cave collab “Lawless”:
Do not I love Thee, Oh my Lord?
Behold my heart, and see,
And turn each cursed idol out,
That dares to rival Thee.

Do not I love Thee from my soul?
Then let me nothing love;
Dead be my heart to ev’ry joy
When Jesus cannot move.

Thou know’st I love Thee, dearest Lord,
But Oh I long to soar
Far from the sphere of mortal joys,
And learn to love Thee more.

Buzzfeed and the War Party

My latest at TheDC:

Ben Smith appears to have been convinced by one of the neoconservatives’ top operators that neoconservative is no longer a useful label, and has now endorsed that person’s replacement term. Quite a trick, isn’t it? Imagine Lila Rose convincing the Associated Press to start using “pro-life” again and you’ll get a sense of the journalistic malfeasance at work.

Jamie Weinstein, Funniest Celebrity in Washington, sticks his fingers in his ears and doesn’t seem to like that I mentioned his friends.




Mottes and Mottes and Mottes

The skillful traveller leaves no traces of his wheels or footsteps; the skillful speaker says nothing that can be found fault with or blamed; the skilful reckoner uses no tallies; the skillful closer needs no bolts or bars, while to open what he has shut will be impossible; the skillful binder uses no strings or knots, while to unloose what he has bound will be impossible. In the same way the sage is always skillful at saving men, and so he does not cast away any man; he is always skillful at saving things, and so he does not cast away anything. This is called ‘Hiding the light of his procedure.

-Tao teh Ching, 27

In a very interesting and thoroughly harmless essay, Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex introduces what is to us, a very important concept. That is, the Motte-and-Bailey doctrine. Rhetoric has many tactics, some deceptive, some forthright, some effective, and some foolhardy. Properly speaking, Motte-and-Bailey is itself based on a rhetorical technique, like ‘shoot the moon’ (where you ask for something you know you won’t get in order to retreat to a position more favorable than you could ask for outright) or most forms of strategic retreat. Motte-and-Bailey however takes this idea to another level by repeatedly strategically advancing whenever it can.

To imagine this in other terms, imagine the MPAA really did want to be able to charge whenever a song anywhere was played, no matter how long, no matter the medium.