Modernity

Millennials

Q&A with demographic analyst Neil Howe

Are Millennials Actually Lazy, Narcissists?

P.S. Harry Potter is not comparable to War and Peace. I’ve read both. Tolstoy is timeless; Rowling, might be a fun read,  but her works will not stand the test of time.

P.S.S. I’m happy to hear that Millennials are readers. I am a bookseller after all.

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What I’m Reading:

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In Death of the Grown-up  Diana West explores the decline of Western civilization, the disappearance of adults, the rise of political correctness, Islamic terrorism and multiculturalism. It has been at once a depressing and inspiring read . . .

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Alice Thomas Ellis was a fascinating woman, a talented catholic novelist, and an anti-feminist. When she was nineteen she became a postulation but had to leave the order due to health problems. She later married Colin Haycraft. They were happily married and had seven children. Her book,  The Serpent on the Rock   is a non-fiction work  which examines the changes within the church after Vatican II. It has been described as irreverent, spicey, passionate – combative.  Well,  it is certainly fast-paced, witty and straight-forward. Ellis does not mince her words. I enjoyed her candor and humor although I could see many Catholics taking offence at her tone. As one book review stated, You won’t find this one at your local Catholic bookstore! 

 

The Myth of Progress in the Arts

Excellent article: The Myth of Progress in the Arts

“What is progress? In culture, and especially in high culture, progress is the attempt to make something better, which implies hierarchical thinking: if there is something better, this means that there is also something worse. During the Italian Renaissance, artists strove to make things better, to paint better, to build better, to compose better (read Giorgio Vasari’s The Lives of the Artists). In their time, they were modern as a result of their intention to be better, and not the other way around.”

A Mirror for Artists

The furious pace of our working hours is carried into our leisure hours, which are
feverish and energetic. We live by the clock. Our days are a muddle of “activities,” strenuously pursued. We do not have the free mind and easy temper that should
characterize true leisure. Nor does the separation of our lives into two distinct parts, of which one is all labor–too often mechanical and deadening–and the other
all play, undertaken as nervous relief, seem to be conducive to a harmonious life. The arts will not easily survive a condition under which we work and play at cross-purposes. We cannot separate our being into contradictory halves without a certain amount of spiritual damage. The leisure thus offered is really no leisure at all; either it is pure sloth, under which the arts take on the character of mere entertainment, purchased in boredom and enjoyed in utter passivity, or it is another kind of labor, taken up out of a sense of duty, pursued as a kind of fashionable enterprise for which one’s courage must be continually whipped up by reminders of one’s obligation to culture. – Donald Davidson.

Modernity & Great Religious Fiction

But I don’t believe that we shall have great religious fiction until we have again that happy combination of believing artist and believing society. Until that time, the novelist will have to do the best he can in travail with the world he has. He may find in the end that instead of reflecting the image at the heart of things, he has only reflected our broken condition and, through it, the face of the devil we are possessed by. This is a modest achievement, but perhaps a necessary one. — Flannery O’Connor

Come, Hang man! Come, Vulture!

Lewis Mumford on Roman Decadence in his 1961 book ‘The City in History’:

“From the standpoint of both politics and urbanism, Rome remains a significant lesson of what to avoid: its history presents a series of classic danger signals to warn one when life is moving in the wrong direction. Wherever crowds gather in suffocating numbers, wherever rents rise steeply and housing conditions deteriorate, wherever a one-sided exploitation of distant territories removes the pressure to achieve balance and harmony nearer at hand, there the precedents of Roman building almost automatically revive, as they have come back today: the arena, the tall tenement, the mass contests and exhibitions, the football matches, the international beauty contests, the strip-tease made ubiquitous by advertisement, the constant titillation of the senses by sex, liquor and violence—all in true Roman style. So, too, the multiplication of bathrooms and the over-expenditure on broadly paved motor roads, and above all, the massive collective concentration on glib ephemeralities of all kinds, performed with supreme technical audacity. These are symptoms of the end: magnifications of demoralized power, minifications of life. When these signs multiply, Necropolis is near, though not a stone has yet crumbled. For the barbarian has already captured the city from within. Come, hangman! Come, vulture!”