Archive for the ‘Culture’ category

A Tale of Two Hazlitts

March 22, 2008

I had no idea that the great economic journalist Henry Hazlitt was indeed related to the great essayist William Hazlitt. Turns out, according to this archival Time article about H. Hazlitt succeeding H.L. Mencken as editor of the American Mercury, William was Henry’s great-great-great uncle. I’m grateful to Scott Lahti for bringing this to my attention.

Quick Links: Heinlein and Kirk

August 1, 2007

Thought I would call attention to Brian Doherty’s Reason essay on Heinlein, which is now on-line, and to R. J. Stove’s review of The Essential Russell Kirk, which comes to Kirk with fresh eyes..

Something For the Weekend: Thomas Woods on Culture and Enterprise

March 31, 2007

Last Thursday I attended the Culture of Enterprise event at the Cato Institute, “What Should Be a Culture of Enterprise in an Age of Globalization.” Thomas Woods gave a talk that was an absolute tour de force and, fortunately, it’s available on-line. Hear it here (MP3), or watch it here (Real video). Those links also inclue Olaf Gersemann’s talk following Tom’s; Gersemann was thought-provoking in his own right, though he acknowledged that coming after Tom’s talk put him at a tremendous disadvantage.

The later panel with Ed Stringham, Bryan Caplan, and the Acton Institute’s Kevin Schmiesing is also worth a viewing or a listen, particularly for Caplan’s discussion of “political culture” versus “personal culture” as factors in producing prosperity.

Power Plays

March 27, 2007

Stephen Greenblatt on “Shakespeare and the Uses of Power,” from the New York Review of Books. The best thing in the April 12 issue, though, is Hayden Pelliccia’s “Let Virgil Be Virgil,” which reviews the new Aeneid translations by Robert Fagles and Stanley Lombardo. (Maybe I should be more circumspect about claiming that the Pelliccia piece is the best thing, since there are a couple other promising essays in this issue that I haven’t read yet, such as Richard Holmes’s piece on Wordsworth and Coleridge.)

Jonathan Bate’s cover story on Shakespeare in the April Harper’s is also well worth picking up.

Mencken’s House

September 26, 2006

Scott Lahti brings to my attention this article about Mencken’s house on Hollins Street in Baltimore. The city has neither the means nor much will to take care of the place (which was a museum at one point). Luckily, the Maryland Historical Society and the Friends of the H.L. Mencken House might soon have a greater say in what becomes of HLM’s family home.

“A.N. Wilson Is a S—“

September 3, 2006

I don’t have strong feelings about A.N. Wilson either way, but bravo for Bevis Hillier if he really was the one who tricked Wilson into including a fake letter (complete with coded insult) in his John Betjemen biography. Auberon Waugh — who once sabotaged the Spectator‘s list of contributors to credit George Gale as “Lunchtime O’Gale” — would be proud.

Skepticism About Islamo-Democracy Gets Mark Helprin Fired

August 17, 2006

From Kelly Jane Torrance’s fascinating interview with Mark Helprin (be sure to read the whole thing here):

MH: …I gave a speech that lasted 45 minutes or an hour, followed by a long question period. And one of the questions was about the democracy initiative, about changing Iraq into a democracy, and I am on record as saying—I don’t quite remember exactly, but I said more or less—I think it’s insane. I emphasize it like that, because among other things, if you count intensive language courses I took there in the summer as preparation, I spent almost three years in graduate school at Harvard in Middle Eastern Studies learning about Middle Eastern history, Arabic. And it was very clear to me, from the very beginning, that it’s impossible. If you know anything about Islamic civilization, or about the contemporary Middle East, about the sociology and the anthropology of the people who live there, and their recent history, and their religion, and their motivation and everything, then you realize that it’s not going to happen.

Even if it could be done, I don’t think it’s a desirable goal. Particularly as a Jew, I don’t like missionary work. I’ve had it focused on me, and I don’t like it. Let people be what they want to be. Now that doesn’t mean that we can’t explain what our point of view is. I would never back down from the American ideals, and we should make them known, whatever way we can, but the idea of actually embarking upon—and a crusade is a perfect word for it—a crusade to transform a culture, another culture . . . well, has it ever ended up in anything other than war? When we did it with Japan and Germany, it was after the war. They made on war on us, we hit them, and then we said, Okay, this is what we’re going to do. But the object of the war was not to—even though the propaganda may have said so—was not to change Japan and Germany into democracies. They both were democracies, to a large extent, already, but the object was to check them. My positions on this are complicated, but simple—and they’re all available.

DT: Have you found that your colleagues at places like the Wall Street Journal are unhappy with your criticism?

MH: Yes, I no longer am with the Journal.

DT: Is it because of this? Your thoughts on these issues?

MH: Pretty much, yes…